West Forsyth’s boys golf team captured the school’s first state championship for a boys team last year when the Wolverines coasted to a 10-stroke win at the Class 7A state championship.
This year might have been their second.
West Forsyth returned six promising golfers from last year’s run, headlined by the Wolverines’ talented one-two punch in Jason Quinlan and Peyton Balent.
Jackson Hilton started his senior season with a tie for first place in the North Gwinnett Invitational, just the second tournament of the year, while sophomore Jimmy Coleman was a consistent No. 4 for the Wolverines.
West Forsyth would have wrapped up their season last week, as the Class 7A state championship was scheduled for May 18-19, and Quinlan saw firsthand how the Wolverines likely would have performed.
“We had a really good team,” Quinlan said. “I even played with a few of the guys recently. We’re all playing real well — right on time.”
Quinlan, who will play at the University of South Carolina in the fall, is the Forsyth County News Boys Golfer on the Year.
Quinlan led West Forsyth at last year’s state championship at Hamilton Mill Golf Club, shooting a 1-over 145, just one stroke off the tournament’s low medalist.
He helped West Forsyth to a pair of second-place finishes this year before the season was canceled, carding a 4-over 76 at the North Gwinnett Invitational and chipping in 35 points at the Stableford-style Coal Mountain Classic.
Quinlan said he plays nine holes regularly at either Polo Golf & Country Club or TPC Sugarloaf, and even played 18 holes on Friday.
“I play with another South Carolina guy, Liam Shinn, at Sugarloaf a lot,” Quinlan said. “We do matches out there, so that helps quite a bit. I get some good competition.”
Quinlan landed with the Gamecocks following an impressive finish to last year’s junior golf circuit.
He tied for fifth at the Judie Oppenheimer Memorial Junior in July, then tied for 13th at the Boys Junior PGA Championship and closed the season with a tie for fourth at the AJGA Pinehurst Junior.
South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald spoke highly of Quinlan in December when he committed.
“Jason is as physically gifted as any player we’ve recruited,” McDonald said. “He has great club head speed and good hands. We have some work to do on trajectory and distance control, but the raw skills are there for him to be an outstanding collegiate player in my opinion. We were very fortunate to land Jason’s commitment late in the recruiting process.”
Quinlan, who stands well over 6 feet, knew he had a considerable advantage whenever he stepped into the tee box in high school, as his power allowed him to outdrive his opponents.
“It makes it a lot easier, especially in high school golf where the courses are a lot shorter, just hitting wedges into every green,” Quinlan said. “It’s a lot easier, that’s for sure.”
For now, Quinlan is focused on fine-tuning his mechanics before heading to South Carolina in the fall, working to prepare for the high-pressure situations he’ll face at the collegiate level.
“It’s not easy,” Quinlan said. “Sometimes I have a little bit of an issue putting; just getting relaxed over every putt and working on my routine, mainly. As long as you have good process, it’s a lot easier to perform.”