Coach Scott Varner fielded one of the youngest rosters of the program’s history, with one junior, four sophomores and two freshmen. As individuals, a player could walk off the course at any time if he was having a bad match, but that’s not how it works as part of a team.
It was Varner’s job to keep his young players focused on a much larger goal.
“The mental side of it is very much what I had to work on with them,” he said. “This group is really young, so there was a lot of — I’ll call it golf course management, or a lot of learning how to play the game in a team aspect as opposed to an individual one.
“When it’s an individual day, if you’re an individual and you just want to call it a day, you can do that. But when you’re playing a team game, you have to go out there and stay out there. You don’t know what the rest of your teammates are doing because you’re never playing with them, but you have to grind it out.”
Varner, the 2013 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Boys Golf Coach of the Year, saw during the Class A private school state tournament how Mount Paran was struggling, and he knew he had to intervene.
“Our Nos. 2, 3 and 4 guys turned after having a terrible front nine,” Varner said. “But I just kept trying to talk to them the whole time and explaining, ‘It’s a long day of 18 holes, and you have to finish it.’
“But on the back side, they shot a combined 6-over, which, considering how badly they played on the front, it was a huge deal for us and helped us to finish strong as the state meet.”
With junior Tyler Young, sophomores Davis Hall, John Busby, Mack Alford and Jameson VerSteeg and freshman Jake McWhorter, Mount Paran shot 322 to finish fourth among the Class A private schools in Pooler.
It was a solid end to the season for the Eagles, who also claimed the Area 4A title, one year after doing the same when it competed in Region 6A.
“It was a great accomplishment for them because, going into the season — they finished fifth the year before, and we wanted to improve on that,” Varner said. “That was one of the team’s goals. For them to see that will only help them grow for the future for next year and what we hope to accomplish then.
“It’s a great honor (to be the coach of the year), but it’s more about the kids. They put in the work. They put in the time. We help them as much as we can. Anything, I think, we get as coaches in any sport is attributed to what they can do on the playing field, not necessarily to what we can do on the sides.”
Varner was especially proud of the team for winning the area title after the GHSA separated Class A into public and private schools.
“It’s the second year in a row the team has won region,” he said. “But this year, I think, it was a bigger accomplishment for us with single-A changing and formulating areas instead of regions. The competition was tough this year. Walker was going in as a heavy favorite, but we just played exceptionally well. Tyler shooting 2-under par was a huge spark for our team. That was a catalyst for everybody else and they just fed off of that. We had four scores in the