New Cavalier coach has lengthy course ahead

Published 8:43 pm Thursday, August 6, 2009

For most Group AAA golf teams around the competitive Eastern Region, the upcoming season is about finishing at the top of the district and making it to the regional and state tournaments.

Head coach Brandon Frye, in his first season coaching Lakeland’s golf team, has a different, but arguably even more valuable goal, in front of him as the Cavaliers will start their season next week.

“We’re going to have some fun. That’s our main goal, and it shouldn’t be too hard,” said Frye.

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Frye has a group of golfers who are nearly brand-new to the sport, so getting them to love and stay with the game is his primary aim. Bringing their scores down and competing for postseason honors might come down the road if this new crop of Cavaliers stays with the sport.

Lakeland has a record of outstanding golfers in recent years. For four years, Ben Hunter was the Cavaliers’ top golfer. Hunter’s gone on to a golf scholarship at Jackson State University. Other top Cavalier golfers from the past few years include Augie Camacho, who’s now playing at Lynchburg College and Morgan Chaney, who’s playing club-level golf at Clemson.

Ayana Pugh, a transfer from Bethel High School in Hampton, hadn’t played a full, 18-hole round before Lakeland opened practice on Monday. Stephen Blanchard, said Frye, has played a handful of rounds, but not in anything approaching a high school match or tournament.

“(Ayana) is going to be the most improved, I can already tell. She’s improving every day just by being out here and practicing,” said Frye, who played four years of golf at Churchland High School.

Along with getting better scores with each match, Frye is teaching proper golf etiquette and the rules of the game.

“This year is about learning. It’s definitely a goal to get to the point where these guys won’t need me with them during a match,” Frye said.

Frye heard of the job opening at Lakeland when he was playing in a Tidewater Amateur Golf Tour tournament with the husband of Lakeland’s activities director, Teri Tucker. Tucker coached last fall’s team, but is now coaching volleyball this season at Lakeland.

The timing of the golf season makes it doubly difficult on Frye, or any golf coach, to recruit new players for the team. With only four Cavaliers out at practice during the first few days, Frye would happily accept anyone thinking about playing. By the time school starts however, Lakeland will have played nine of its 10 regular season matches, so getting the word out is tough.