Fort Mill High School's Tiffany Robbins is headed to Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., to continue her education and play golf on scholarship. She is The Herald's All-Area Girls Golfer of the Year.
Indian Land's Chase Hunter, The Herald's All-Area Boys Golfer of the Year, is staying close to home. He plans to play two years at USC-Lancaster with hopes of getting a scholarship to South Carolina for his final two.
Steve Gribble, a former USC football player, is The Herald's All-Area Golf Coach of the Year. He coaches Fort Mill's girls and boys teams. He'll be back next year for his 22nd season, and it's likely the other teams in Region 3-AAAA will be lining up to see which can finish second behind the Yellow Jackets.
During the fall sports season, Gribble and Robbins led the girls team to a 16-0 record and the Lady Yellow Jackets were fifth in the state. Robbins shot a 161 and finished tied for 11th.
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"This year, girls would have had a better record if there had been more teams in our region,'' Gribble said. "We had good senior leadership from Tiffany, our only senior.
"Thought our girls had a chance to do well. Even though we were young, our kids had a lot of experience and were returning region champs. With Tiffany back as all-state and region medalist as a junior, felt we could be as competitive as anybody.''
Robbins won region medalist honors again with a 76. She played on the varsity five seasons and was the team's No. 1 player the last three. She was also region player of the year the last two seasons.
Golf came early for Robbins, who started chipping in the backyard with her father, Lee, as a 4 year old. He cut down a set of clubs for her when she was a little older and Robbins started going to the golf course in Fort Mill.
Then came a shot at competitive golf on the York County Junior Gold Association Tour and Robbins was hooked.
"When I started playing junior golf, I fell in love with the game,'' she said. "I used to play soccer when I was younger, but stuck to golf only right before starting middle school.
"Putting is the strongest part of my game and the pro golfer I like best is Lorena Ochoa.''
Robbins' best for 18 holes is a 73. Her best for nine holes, the number in a regulation high school match, is 35. She had several scholarship offers, but said after she visited ORU the choice was easy.
"Oral Roberts was a school I was interested in going to because it's a non-denominational Christian school,'' she said. "They called the week we could sign and offered a scholarship. They have a building process going. The coach told me he's looking for good players and that I fit in.''
Hunter was medalist at the Class A state tournament, a good way to end his senior season after finishing fourth his sophomore and junior seasons.
He was second after this year's first round with a 75. The leader was Christ Church's Jordan Weede, at 72. Hunter caught and passed Weede the next day and won by a stoke with a 4-over 147.
"After last year, it was a relief to finally finish first,'' Hunter said. "If I hadn't done it this year, it would have been bad after coming so close the last two years.''
Hunter, who averaged 38 strokes for nine holes, has been on the varsity six years. His dad, Randy, got him started and they've spent many afternoons together watching tournaments on TV. Hunter said gold has helped him bond with his dad.
He fondly recalls sneaking onto a course and joining his dad's foursome. He had his bag of cutoff clubs slung over his shoulder, and the foursome let him play each hole from 100 yards out.
"That was at Fort Mill Golf Club, where I cut my golf teeth,'' Hunter said. "I grew up loving golf. My best for 18 was a 68 during my practice round before the state tournament.
"I haven't talked with the coach at USC-Lancaster yet because I just got accepted this week. But I want to play golf there, then at USC. Want to be like Harley Lail, who went to Indian Land. He played at a junior college and now he's starting for the Gamecocks' baseball team.''
Gribble's boys finished the regular season with a 23-0 record and, like the girls, won the region championship. But the team sprung a leak at the state tournament and finished 10th.
"We had some nagging injuries from the regular season,'' Gribble said. "Scott Boston was having back problems. We had another golfer who was 1-over par after the first day and had to withdraw him. He got ill on the course with pleurisy and had to admit him to the hospital in Greenville. So instead of counting a 73 or 74, we had to count a high 80.l
"On the second day, we had the second lowest team score of the tournament. But we shot ourselves out the first day and were too far back to come back. We'll do better next year.''
Barry Byers • 329-4099
• Complete All-Area Golf Team • 4B