Lambert fell two strokes short on May 17 of winning its second straight state championship in boy’s golf, 296-294 to Johns Creek.
That night the team sat around the dinner table in an unfavorable mood, but once they stopped and reflected on the year that was the glee returned.
Lambert didn’t have Jake Fendt or Brennan Bogdanovich, the two golfers who led the Longhorns to a title a year ago. So when the season began, Spencer Ball and his teammates wondered if they would be able to keep the caliber of play at the same level.
The Longhorns surprised themselves, winning the first six tournaments of the season.
“That gave us belief that we could absolutely win state again,” Ball said. “We were unsure going into the year, but going into region we felt really good and we played very well, then we won sectionals which gave us even more momentum. We felt good going into state but it just didn’t materialize. It’s still pretty cool though. There’s so many great golfers in this area, even in the county.”
Ball shot a 72 at state, four strokes off the low medalist in Johns Creek’s Nic Cassidy and fourth-lowest in the field. For Ball, getting that close to low medalist was plenty enough to assure him that picking golf over basketball in the eighth grade was in fact a very good idea.
He said he got the golf bug after attending the PGA Championship in 2011, finally committing to the game. He picked Otis Smith, now a golf coach at Midway University in Kentucky, as his swing coach. Ball decided as a freshman that he wanted to work toward a career in pro golf.
Ball will attend Armstrong State University, located in Savannah, in the fall. He’ll major in business and keep his options open, but after going so low at state and receiving GHSGCA All-State recognition he thinks the sky might be the limit.
FCN: How does it feel to be named the FCN’s Boys Golf Player of the Year?
Ball: It’s definitely a nice consolation prize for not winning state. It’s a nice way to cap off my high school career. I feel like I’ve really progressed each year since my freshman season so winning this is a validation of all of the hard work paying off.
FCN: How did Armstrong State happen?
Ball: Well, because I started playing seriously a bit later many of the major schools got a look at me a little too late. I narrowed down what was best for me to Division II schools and focused on somewhere where I could play right away, go to a postseason and make an impact. I had offers from Lee University and Valdosta State, but Armstrong—I met their coach at the Georgia Open and went down for a visit. It’s going to be a spot where I think I can flourish and develop.
FCN: Your teammate Kate Owens is an up-and-coming golfer sitting right next to you. What is some advice you can give her about the recruiting process?
Ball: Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If a coach is out to see you that coach knows you can play. You don’t have to go shoot mid-60s any time a coach is watching. It’s also definitely about not just wanting to play at the best possible school, but finding the right fit.
FCN: Do you have a favorite moment from your senior season?
Ball: Going down to Jekyll Island and getting low-medalist. That’s a big tournament in Georgia and I shot a 70. I actually felt like I played okay. I had a lot of birdies and bogeys. I was even 4-under at one point, but held on. It was cool to win that, especially considering I’ll be playing down there in the fall.
FCN: Do you have a favorite club in your bag?
Ball: The 8-iron. I really have no clue why. I’ll go to warm up on the range with a few wedges and then switch to the 8-iron, so it’s – yeah I’m not exactly sure. But if I’m on the course and in between clubs like a 7 or a 9 I’ll just swing the 8 instead.