A collection of golf talent has accumulated at the foot of Lookout Mountain in the the team Chattanooga Christian coach Jim Whitaker has built.
He has three players who likely will play NCAA Division I golf.
The Chargers' Scott Stevens has committed to play at South Carolina. Lake Johnson is drawing interest from the likes of Tennessee and other SEC and ACC programs with scholarship money to offer. And Wil Manuel, who can compete with those two on almost any day on almost any course, will join the team before August ends.
"I can't picture a school having three better players than that around here, especially for a non-[TSSAA] DII team," said East Hamilton coach Jeff Stetzler. "CCS is going to be very strong."
Manuel, who started at Baylor, should be eligible to compete in late August. That would allow him to play in the prestigious City Prep as well as all playoff events that determine the teams that head to the state championship.
To compete as a team, the Chargers have been scrounging their grounds to find a fourth, and ideally fifth and sixth golfers who want to play.
"It's word-of-mouth," Whitaker said. "Scott and Lake have talked to guys who once chose to play football.
"We've got a chance to make a run at things and, as a team, get to state."
Stevens would love to play in Manchester with a full team instead of just one or two teammates. He's working his phone list of friends who play the game and attend his school.
"If we got one more person we could be really good," Stevens said during a trip back from an individual tournament in the Carolinas. "There's a chance to get one more guy. And maybe another if he hates football.
"But I think we may have to do it with three guys this year. I really hope we can get fourth, and maybe a fifth. But I don't know."
Chattanooga-area girls golf is taking a step back with the graduation of Blakesly Warren, Samantha Griffith, Katie Bishop and Anna Pope, who all signed Division I scholarships. Participation is down a hair, even at schools with girls' championship banners hanging in the gyms.
Several schools have individuals who should earn scholarships, but not enough depth to compete for state championships -- and that team title require just two counting golfers.
"Walker Valley ought to be pretty good. Boyd-Buchanan, too, and Signal Mountain, and Baylor goes without saying," GPS coach Rob Riddle said. "But it will be interesting this season."
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...