High school gets off the tee box on Monday, July 24, and the Sixth Annual 5Star Preps Masters will really get the season going July 28-29 at Three Ridges Golf Course — as most of the area’s top talents and teams compete for 36 holes for the prestigious title.
Knoxville area high school golf is expected, once again, to perform well this fall.
The Christian Academy of Knoxville (CAK) boys golf program has won six consecutive TSSAA state championships and have a lineup in 2023 that’s fully capable of keeping the tradition going. Don’t sleep on the CAK girls come the postseason, either.
Meanwhile, the Kingston Yellow Jackets boys golf team is chasing a three-peat in Class A, and the Lady Yellow Jackets have two players who could usher their program into unchartered waters. They finished runner-up a season ago.
So, get up to speed on some of the area’s best players as the season gets going. And come out and watch them July 28-29 at the 5Star Preps Masters, presented by Brad Rose Golf Instruction.
Lauren Davis, Halls, junior
Davis finished solo 10th this summer in the Tennessee Girls Junior Amateur. The 2022 5Star Preps Girls Player of the Year tied for ninth at last year’s TSSAA Class AA state tournament after claiming medalist in the district- and region-tournament stages.
Brylee Crouse, Kingston, senior
Crouse recently committed to MTSU. The 2021 5Star Preps Girls Player of the Year followed up her stellar sophomore campaign by helping Kingston finish runner-up in the state in 2022. She was also Region 2-A Medalist. Crouse tied for 12 this summer in the Tennessee Girls Junior Amateur and also won the Tri-Star Match Play Championship.
Kailey Lane, Kingston, senior
Lane placed third last year in the TSSAA Class A State Championship, posting rounds of 73 and 68 at Sevierville. After a 15th-place showing this summer in the Tennessee Girls Junior, Lane looks primed and ready for another big season in 2023.
Sophia Gambini, junior
Gambini moved to Tennessee from Las Vegas this summer and announced her presence with a bang, winning the two-day Sneds Tour event at Willow Creek by nine shots with a 1-under winning mark. Just which school she’ll play for, at this point, is unknown.
Lorien Sweet, Greenback, senior
Sweet played her way onto the All-5Star Preps First Team last fall by tying for fifth in the Class A state tournament. She also shot in the mid-70s in the Region 2-A Tournament to secure her spot in the state tournament.
Grady Thomas, CAK, freshman
What a first season of high school golf Thomas had last year, playing up as an eighth-grader. She reached All-5SP First Team status after tying for 11th at the Division II-A State Tournament and after claiming medalist honors with a 72 at the region-tournament level.
Isabella Coughlin, CAK, sophomore
Coughlin, as a freshman last fall, shot 80 or better in all stages of the TSSAA postseason. She tied for 11th at state. And this summer, she placed 19th at the Tennessee Girls Junior Amateur.
Maya Hira, Bearden, senior
Hira had a tough go in the 2022 Region 2-AA Tournament, but her true game shone through in district tournament play with a 73. She’ll be one the Lady Bulldogs top players once again this fall.
Palmer Sykes, Webb, senior
Sykes broke through in the 2022 Division II-AA state tournament last year, finishing sixth after rounds of 75 and 79. She just may be gearing up for another solid season in 2023 given her Top-25 finish in the Tennessee Girls Junior Am this summer.
Alexis Fishel, CAK, junior
Fishel has been solid for CAK since arriving on the high school scene. She was All-5SP Second Team as a sophomore, shooting 75 at district, 78 at region and taking 19th at state.
Calley Holbert, West, junior
Holbert squeezed into the 2022 TSSAA Class AA State Tournament and made good on her opportunity there. She carded a pair of 78s to tie for 12th.
Brook Farmer, Gibbs, junior
Won the Sneds Tour East Tennessee Regional Championship this summer at Patriot Hills at 4-under 140. She and Jadyn Thompson will give Gibbs a nice 1-2 punch in the lineup.
Madison Miller, Halls, junior
Miller was a luxury to have for the Lady Red Devils in 2022, as her scores could always provide a quality safety net and keep Halls in the mix. But with Bailey McGaha having graduated, look for Miller’s scorecards to complement Lauren Davis’ on another expected successful Halls run.
Tessa Larmee, Bearden, senior
Larmee routinely shot in the low 80s during the 2022 postseason and played her way to the 2022 TSSAA Class AA state tournament field. She and Maya Hire will give Bearden a chance at many wins as a team in 2023.
Rylee Tucker, Maryville, junior
Tucker turned in a nice 76 in 2022 district tournament play and narrowly missed out on a trip to state with her play in the region tournament.
MORE PLAYERS WE’RE WATCHING
Anna Claire Gibson, West, junior
Maylei Hildenbrand, South Greene, senior
Jadyn Thompson, Gibbs, junior
Tori Tampas, Catholic, senior
Sydney Courtney, Morristown East, senior
Malerie Taylor, CAK, senior
Lilly McKinney, TKA, senior
Teagan Walker, Catholic, freshman
Leona Patel, HVA, sophomore
Ethan Whitaker, Halls, senior
The 2022 Co-5Star Preps Player of the Year is committed to Chattanooga and claimed 11th in the TSSAA Class AA State Tournament a season ago. He was the area’s lowest finisher in late June 2023 at the Tennessee Junior Amateur. Whitaker claimed seventh there with rounds of 68, 71 and 72 at Spring Creek Ranch near Memphis.
Will Bacon, Kingston, senior
Bacon led the Yellow Jackets to their second consecutive TSSAA Class A State Tournament title with a third-place finish in the season finale. He also was medalist in Region 2-A play.
Drew Bolton, Central, senior
Recently committed to Tennessee Tech, Bolton is arguably the most-improved player in the area over the last two years. He won the Tri-Star Match Play Championship on July 7 and he qualified for the Tennessee State Junior Amateur, finishing tied for 36th there in a 72-man field.
Cooper Roberts, FBA, senior
One of the more talented Class of 2024 players in Knox County, Roberts had a solid postseason in 2022 but will be looking to pop even more this fall with a big finish in the state tournament.
Owen Queener, Farragut, senior
After posting a nice round of 69 in district-tournament play last fall, Queener had a rough go of it in region play. But make no mistake, he’s one of the top players around— evidenced by him making the field at the USGA U.S. Junior Amateur (July 24-29, Charleston, S.C.).
Jaden Morrell, Bearen, senior
The reigning District 4-AA medalist is always a legitimate threat to go low any given week. But his 2022 postseason didn’t go as he had hoped. Look for him to make up for it this time around.
Collin Keino, Maryville Apostolic, junior
A highly touted left-hander, Keino finished fourth in the 2022 TSSAA Division II-A state tournament.
Cooper Russell, CAK, junior
Russell played a big part in CAK winning yet another Division II-A state tournament by tying for individual medalist honors. Though he lost in a playoff for the first-place prize, Russell signaled he’d arrived in the Division II ranks as one of its top players.
Bryson White, CAK, junior
After placing sixth in the 2022 Division II-A state tournament as a sophomore, White is looking to improve his stock even more this fall. And he just may do it. He shot three rounds of 72 in the Tennessee Junior Amateur this summer.
Riley Parsons, Alcoa, senior
Parsons placed ninth in the 2022 Class A state tournament, opening with a solid round of 73 after claiming medalist honors in Region 1-A.
Jacob Rose, Grace Christian, junior
A district medalist from a year ago, Rose has improved significantly this offseason and is primed for a big 2023 campaign.
Tate Woodruff, Webb, senior
A staple in the Spartans’ lineup for the last several years, Woodruff — who had rounds of 73, 74 and 74 last postseason — will be a steadying presence one more go-around for Webb this fall.
Blake Russell, CAK, sophomore
Blake Russell came up big in the region round last year, posting a 74 and then following that with an 11th-place finish individually at state. He’ll once again help comprise a CAK lineup capable of winning state.
Jack Bentz, Oak Ridge, junior
After shooting a sub-70 round in the district-tournament round, Bentz wound up playing his way into the Class AA state tournament — where his final-round 73 helped him leap up the leaderboard into 19th.
Noah Witten, Alcoa, senior
Witten’s final-round 74 moved him into a tie for ninth. He and Riley Parsons will spearhead an Alcoa squad that once again hopes to reach the state tournament.
Tanner Varney, CAK, freshman
Varney contributed on varsity as an eighth-grader last year, even posting a round of 71 in the region tournament. He can absolutely bomb it off the tee but has worked diligently on refining his game even more for 2023. He won the Sneds Tour East Tennessee Region Championship on July 17-18 at Patriot Hills in 4-under 140.
Bryce Harmon, Bearden, junior
An All-5Star Preps selection last season, Harmon used rounds of 72 and 74 to ultimately play his way into the Class AA state tournament. But he won’t be a surprise player this fall.
Kolben Gregg, South Greene, junior
Gregg played extremely well in last year’s Class A state tournament, finding his way into a fourth-place finish with rounds of 73 and 75.
MORE PLAYERS WE’RE WATCHING
Brady Harville, Farragut, senior
Conner Williams, HVA, sophomore
Will Rhoton, TKA, senior
Lane Stokes, FBA, sophomore
Kaden Shropshire, Cocke County, senior
Leo Huddleston, Maryville, sophomore
Grant Odom, Knoxville Catholic, junior
Landon Dyer, Berean, junior
Blake Dawson, Karns, senior
Gavin Sells, Greeneville, senior
Grayson Smith, Morristown, junior
Jake Sheffield, Hardin Valley, sophomore
Ethan Arneson, Kingston, sophomore
Jack O’Quinn, Maryville, junior
Owen King, Maryville, junior
Hudson Capps, Farragut, sophomore
Brady Orr, Maryville, senior