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BOYS GOLF PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Mitchell Taylor, Lambert
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Mitchell Taylor’s senior golf season at Lambert will always be colored by the disappointment of the state championship being cut short due to rainy weather, depriving the Longhorns of a second round and a chance at making a run up the leaderboard. Taylor heard the horn that stopped play right before he was about to tee off, in the middle of teammate Myles Jones’ backswing.

“It was sad,” Taylor said. “Because I was ready to go.”

Taylor has moved on, though, because he recognizes that he could only control certain things about that tournament, and the weather wasn’t one of them.

That measured, assured approach is one that Taylor has honed during his four years at Lambert and that his coaches have come to count on, and as a senior, the All-FCN Boys Golf Player of the Year was a paragon of consistency for both the Longhorns and the county as a whole. He averaged a team-best 73.6 on the year, regularly shot in the low 70s, and recorded one of the lowest scores in the state in the second round of the North Georgia Invitational at Dalton Country Club, shooting a five-under 67.

Taylor admits that he wasn’t always the steadiest golfer. He’d overanalyze shots during tournaments, but also lose composure if something didn’t go his way and see his whole round go downhill. At the same time, he worked to develop his feel for shots and the game, avoiding overcomplicated thinking.

“I’ve transitioned my game from thinking about every shot to more of a feel-based game, and I’ve seen that improve my game overall,” Taylor said.

Taylor is headed to college at Georgia Tech, where he plans to major in industrial engineering, and his current plans don’t include playing golf in college. When reflecting on the team aspect of the sport that he got to know in high school, Taylor expressed his appreciation for elements of cooperation it introduced, which made him more motivated to hone his mental approach.

“If you (lose your cool) in the team aspect, that means you’re letting everyone else down by freaking out if you throw away your round like that,” Taylor said.

It was a team-wide consensus that Lambert didn’t play its best during the first round of the state championship, when the Longhorns sat at 19-over, six strokes back of first-place Mill Creek. But Taylor and the Longhorns had set aside the discouragement of that first day, and after an encouraging showing on the range, he was full of optimism.

But as he’s learned, often to the betterment of his game, sometimes things in golf don’t go your way.

“We knew we could make a charge, and we were ready to go,” Taylor said. “I was definitely pretty bummed out. But you can’t really control it.”