CONYERS - The Heritage golf teams will be on two different paths toward the same goal this spring.
The Heritage boys will be counting on their experience, with several key golfers returning from last year's squad, which finished third in the Region 8-AAAA tournament. Meanwhile, the Heritage girls will face some growing pains with only one returning golfer and six newcomers on this year's roster.
Both squads will be looking to earn a state tournament berth at the region playoff in late April.
On the boys' side, the Patriots have plenty of experience in senior Robby Kalland, senior Cameron Smith, senior Brett Whitmire and sophomore Bennett Mitchell. All four golfers are playing in at least their second season on the varsity level.
Heritage coach David Buddenbaum also is looking for good things from freshman Harrison Elliott.
The Patriots had two key losses off last year's team - John Cheatham and Michael Johnston.
"The key for our boys this year is getting a solid third and fourth score," Buddenbaum said. "I think we will have two good scores each tournament, but the difference will be getting a good score from our third through sixth player so we can post a low number. Four of our six players have a lot of tournament experience and can play pretty well. Harrison Elliott, a freshman, is starting as our second player and has looked pretty solid. I look for some good scores from him as we progress through the season."
So far, the Patriots have played in two tournaments and three other matches. Heritage finished eighth in Saturday's North Forsyth Tournament and 14th in the Habersham Invitational. They beat Ola in a two-team match and have finished second twice in multiple-team matches behind Athens Academy and Eastside.
"We have a lack of depth," Buddenbaum said. "After our fifth player, we drop off quite a bit, so we are looking for some of our JV players to work hard and take that sixth position and help us out."
On the girls side, senior Brandi Carr is the only returning player for the Lady Patriots.
The key loss off last year's team was Ashley Upshaw, who played in every match the past two seasons.
"We have six new girls and all of them will get time to improve and help our team," Buddenbaum said. "We are very inexperienced, so it will be a year of learning how to play and gradual improvement. By the end of the year, we are hoping to have four players that can compete at the region tournament."
The Heritage girls will play their first match today against Union Grove on their home course at Honey Creek. The Heritage boys will also face Union Grove today.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: At a glance
Teams: Heritage golf
Coach: David Buddenbaum
Last year: Heritage boys finished third in Region 8-AAAA Tournament, Heritage girls placed seventh
Next match: Today vs. Union Grove at Honey Creek