As the Walton girls golf team prepared to compete in the second day of the inaugural Cobb County Invitational in March, cold weather combined with wind and rain to make for a challenging round ahead for coach Richard Myrick and his players.
The Lady Raiders had finished the first day of the competition with a two-stroke lead, but the poor conditions threatened to make it much harder to keep it.
But with a back-nine charge from senior Angela Deng, Walton extended its two-stroke lead to a 25-stroke victory and claimed the county championship.
Myrick, the 2018 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Girls Golf Coach of the Year, usually likes to take the first few months of the season to gear up for competitive area and state tournaments in April and May.
However, with Walton having a chance to win the county tournament in its inaugural year, the longtime coach said he altered his practice plans to give the team the best possible chance to succeed.
“It gave us some motivation to work a little harder,” Myrick said. “We had to sort of up the stress level and requirements in practice because we wanted to win the first one, and that was a realistic goal we thought we could achieve.”
The Lady Raiders followed their county championship with a fourth-place finish in the Area 3AAAAAAA tournament, before finishing sixth in what was their 11th straight state tournament berth.
Myrick came to Walton in 2006 with an abundance of golf knowledge and experience. Following a 12-year professional career, he opted to remain in the game he loves as a coach, and he has done so ever since.
One of his favorite aspects of coaching is the challenge an individual sport involves. Because the pressure can be increased when it is all on an individual, Myrick said he never says anything negative to his players, instead opting to build constructively and offer advice in areas of their game he thinks they could improve.
“There’s no defense in golf,” Myrick said, “and there’s nobody to blame for mistakes but yourself. It’s just you against the golf course, so it’s always interesting to watch how the girls progress over time.”