According to Myrick, the Lady Raiders are in their best position to bring home a state championship because of their depth, and depth will be the key for any team wanting to win state titles from now on.
Previously, the two lowest scores from each team was used generate a team’s overall score. Now, the best three of scores will be used to determine winners in the top four classifications. The top two will still be used in Classes A and AA.
“I know this is the best team we’ve had in the eight years I’ve been here,” said Myrick, who has led Walton to two third-place state finishes. “By far, we’ll likely be the strongest team in the region and, I think, in the state.
“Milton and Cherokee were No. 1 and No. 2 at state last year, and they’re in the same region as us this year, but they don’t have the depth we have.”
Myrick returns his top two golfers in Abbey Williams, a two-time all-state selection, and Meredith Singer — both juniors. Williams and Singer helped Walton finish second in last year’s Region 5AAAAA tournament and sixth at the Class AAAAA championship.
However, the Lady Raiders’ roster also returns several others with varsity experience.
The senior core includes Taylor Andrews, Kathryn Kaish, Margy Long, Morgan Patterson and Lisa van der Ross.
“Those girls have worked hard and improved a lot,” Myrick said. “They’re playing well right now and have looked good at practice.”
One other golfer — freshman Autumn Gabe — has shown a lot of promise. She won three Atlanta Junior Golf tournaments over the summer and could factor into the scoring at several tournaments.
Because of Walton’s large varsity numbers, Myrick will have different golfers to choose from when it comes down to tournament qualifying, increasing the team’s odds that the best golfers will be performing in a particular meet.
The benefits of the increased roster will be seen this season with the new scoring format.
“I’ve been arguing for that change for a while now,” Myrick said, “and now that the state tournament is accepting three scores, that will help us, because we can use whichever four girls are playing well.
“We’re a lot deeper than most teams, and that third score will make a big difference. Whichever four players will shoot in the mid-80s on down gives us a chance to win.”
The Georgia High School Association implemented other changes as well, including the introduction of sectional tournaments, scoring limits and more region qualifiers.
Previously, only the top two region finishers advanced to the state tournament. This season, however, the top four teams will be based on team scores, and only those teams meeting the qualifying score requirement will move on to the sectional or state tournament.
Aside from Class A, which is split into areas among public and private schools, the winning team from each region tournament that posts a qualifying score will advance directly to the state meet. Region winners that do not post a qualifying score will advance to the sectional.
All other teams in the top four of each region tournament that meet the qualifying standard will move on the sectional.
Area champions in Class A will advance to the state tournament, with the second-, third- and fourth-place teams competing in the sectional meet for the remaining state tournament slots.
“These changes will eliminate teams that don’t have a chance to compete for the state title,” Myrick said. “It makes it a more competitive state tournament.”
Myrick tweaked the Lady Raiders’ schedule because of the changes, inserting more tournament-style events along with head-to-head matches.
“One of the biggest things that will help us is we’re playing in more tournaments,” he said. “In the past, we had 12 matches and one tournament before region. Now, we have 12 matches and four tournaments.
“This should help give them more tournament experience and help take the pressure off playing a tournament at the end of the season. It will help us get better, so I’m looking forward to seeing how we do this year.”