Hannah Walker’s two previous times competing in the Region 7-AAAAA golf tournament were, if nothing else, consistent. Each time the Forsyth Central golfer shot an 82, good enough to advance out of the region to the state sectional, where she eventually qualified for the state championships.
Walker disrupted her consistent past performance with a milestone breakout, shooting a 1-under 71 to win low medalist at the region tournament at Woodmont Country Club in Canton on Wednesday.
It was the first time Walker had shot under par in a varsity match, and as low medalist she will bypass the state sectionals for the first time. The next time she competes will be at the Class AAAAA state championship May 16 in the Augusta area hoping to eclipse last year’s top-10 finish.
“I was really happy with how I played,” Walker said. “I had two three-putts, which was a little frustrating, but it’s all relative.”
Walker was familiar with Woodmont, shooting a 77 on March 20 to win the Grizzly Classic, an event hosted by region opponent Creekview. Despite her win that day, Walker had identified holes at Woodmont that had given her trouble, particularly Nos. 3, 6 and 10.
It was all about club selection for Walker.
“Mainly driver,” Walker said, “because with the tees we play sometimes driver gets me into trouble, so I have to choose a different club.”
Walker found her 4 Hybrid fit the job, and her choice was put to the test immediately. Her round started on the back nine, at No. 10, but it became her strongest stretch of the day. In wet morning conditions, Walker said she could shoot for the pins and leave herself short putts. Through the first nine, she was 2-under (34) with birdies on 13 and 18.
The course dried out by the time Walker began her second nine, and “it was like playing two different greens,” Walker said. Still, Walker’s 1-over 37 was good enough to give her a four-shot victory.
So continued Walker’s remarkable rise into one of Class AAAAA’s top golfers. A state champion gymnast growing up, she eventually turned to basketball after moving from Florida and entering Central. She was among a young group hoping to replace a decorated senior class, but her plans were derailed by an ACL injury in just her third varsity game.
Walker turned to golf as a sophomore and found immediate success, qualifying for the state sectional and eventually state championship where she tied for 24th. Buoyed by the experience, she devoted herself to golf full-time and qualified for the state championship the following season, cutting her score by 12 strokes to place ninth.
Her final state championship in three weeks away, but Wednesday felt like a great start.
“A ton of great things happened,” Walker said.