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Golf: Central alum Walker named All-PBC for 4th straight year
Hannah Walker
Young Harris senior and Forsyth Central alum Hannah Walker became the first women's golfer in school history to be named All-Peach Belt Conference all four years. Photo courtesy Young Harris College Athletics

Hannah Walker has been named All-Peach Belt Conference each of her four years at Young Harris College.

There was her magnificent freshman year in 2016-17, when the Forsyth Central alumnus was named PBC Freshman of the Year after a trio of top-five finishes, becoming the first Young Harris women's golfer to earn a major postseason PBC award. Her 76.5 stroke average was eighth in the conference that year.

In her sophomore season, Walker snagged a career-best four top-five finishes, then set a school record for stroke average in a season (76.4) as a junior — each year ending with Walker on the Peach Belt Conference's second team.

Now, as a senior, Walker is only the third golfer in conference history — and the first in Young Harris history — to be named All-Peach Belt Conference all four years.

"I guess I was definitely blessed with some talent for the game, and then I had some great teachers in my life — Spencer Sappington being one of them," Walker said. "He was my swing coach when I started out in high school."

It was a chance meeting one summer, when Walker was at the Crystal Falls Golf Club in Dawsonville and Sappington happened to walk by. Enamored by the sound of her club hitting the ball, the five-time Georgia State Golf Association Senior Player of the Year offered to become Walker's swing coach.

"He's highly decorated, so I was lucky to get to work with him," Walker said. "Then in college, my college coach was really good at understanding the balance of being a college athlete and recognizing each of his players' strengths and just working with them to develop them."

Walker, who only began playing golf in high school, said she felt her mental game improve and her physical game become more consistent over her four years at Young Harris.

Walker's four-year stroke average of 77 is the lowest in school history, and to illustrate her consistency, the difference between her highest average (77.7, 2017-18) and lowest average (76.4, 2018-19) is a little more than one stroke. 

"Hannah rewrote the women's golf record books over her time in the Enchanted Valley," Young Harris women's golf coach Caleb Kelley said of Walker. "She will finish with the lowest four-year scoring average while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA and volunteering most of her free time in the community. Hannah's work ethic and competitive nature is special and is what sets her apart from her competitors. She has grown up so much over her time at (Young Harris), and I have no doubt that she is going to be successful in whatever she decides to do in her future."

Right now, that future is uncertain.

The NCAA voted last month to give spring sports athletes an additional year in college, but Walker is still weighing her options.

"I'm undecided right now whether I'm going to apply for another year of eligibility. We're given another year of eligibility, (but) I just haven't decided whether I'm going to use it or not. So I'm kind of undecided on that front. I'm just applying to environmental education type jobs right now, but if I were to play golf for another year I would probably go to grad school somewhere."

While an unprecedented five straight years on the All-PBC team is unlikely — though possible — Walker feels a sense of accomplishment when she thinks about the past four years.

"It's definitely interesting to look back on it now," Walker said, "because I definitely put in a lot of hard work, and those were definitely goals that I had."