Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

April 12, 2013

Valwood’s Patel to play golf at Berry

VALDOSTA — Since picking up a golf club as a child, Ajay Patel knew golf was going to be his thing. After a successful three-plus years at Valwood, Patel was given the opportunity to continue playing competitive golf when he was offered a spot on Berry College’s team next year.

On Wednesday, Patel signed with the Division III school, surrounded by his family and Valwood teammates.

“I used to be deciding between the professional golf program or college golf,” Patel said. “I said, ‘College golf is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You can’t miss that.’”

Located in Mount Berry, a small mountain town located northwest of Rome, Ga., Berry College offered everything Patel wanted in a college: a competitive golf team with an opportunity to grow, a beautiful campus that offered a piece of home, smaller class sizes built to help students succeed, and, yes, the opportunity to possibly meet a future Mrs. Patel.

“Overall, I was in love with the campus when I went up there; it was by far one of the prettiest campus I have ever seen,” Patel said.

“I like the smaller classes and I felt the size was right. Also, 70 percent woman; you can’t argue with that.”

On the golf course, Patel has been the anchor for the Valwood team over the last few years, and he continues to be again this season. Shooting an average round of 78, Patel is ranked 75th in the state of Georgia according to the Junior Golf Scoreboard Rankings and he is the reigning Region 3-AA champion, after winning the championship last April.

He followed that performance up by finishing 12th in the state tournament last May.

One of Patel’s strengths on the golf course is his ball striking, saying he likes his ability to drive the ball far off the tee. His weakest part of his game? Putting, of course.

“I think it is just lack of confidence,” Patel said, of his putting. “I’m sure when I get to college, it will be back. Just have to build it back up again.”

Along with playing at Valwood, Patel has worked with several instructors from the area, including the golf professionals at both Stone Creek and Kinderlou Forest.

“I want to thank a lot of people: My past instructor Bob Burke for helping me and supporting me along the way; Bill Robinson, the head teaching pro at Kinderlou; and also Rob Williams for being supportive of me,” Patel said.

Outside of Valwood, Patel also finished first in the Junior Tour Summer Series at the Atlanta Athletic Club, shooting a one-round score of 75. He also won the GAPGAJT at Kinderlou Forest, shooting a 72 and 71.

At Berry College, Patel will join a rather large recruiting class next year, giving him an opportunity to compete against other players his age for the opportunity to play and count towards the team’s score in the tournaments.

“We have a rather large recruiting class for next year,” Patel said. “I want to say there are like six of us....I am really interested to see how it all works out.”

An academic Merit Role recipient three of the last four years at Valwood, and nominated for Valwood’s Byron Scholarship, Patel said he plans on majoring in business management at Berry. He will begin classes in August.

Text Only
Local Sports
  • 0728-Lowndes practice4.jpg Vikings working out with padded practice, scrimmage on the horizon

    The look was familiar Monday at Martin Stadium.
    The Lowndes High football team’s conditioning practice was essentially a duplicate of the workouts the Vikings have completed throughout the summer.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thomasville_Ryals.jpg South Georgia special for high school coaches

    Phillip Johnson remembers when he had a “Wizard of Oz” moment.
    The North Carolina native moved to Georgia when he was 26 and Johnson, now Lanier County’s second-year head coach, recalls a 7-on-7 tournament leading to the realization that he wasn’t in Kansas — or in his case, North Carolina — anymore.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Nolin settling in as new VSU soccer coach

    Meet Rebecca Nolin, VSU's new soccer coach.

    July 28, 2014

  • Induction Crowd: Honorees were genuine, down to earth

    More than 48,000 people gathered under the scorching sun at The Clark Sports Center for the 75th National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Sunday, including one woman who carpooled to the event with more than 40 other people.

    July 28, 2014

  • Braves trio all business at inductions

    The Braves seemed almost businesslike in their approach -- something you might expect from a trio that won so consistently.
    Managers Joe Torre and Tony La Russa also remained calm and collected throughout their addresses.
    Frank Thomas took care of the emotional side, his voice breaking and his eyes moist during a heartfelt speech Sunday at the Clark Sports Center.

    July 28, 2014

  • Cooperstown Merchants: Weekend was a success

    Cooperstown merchants are elated about the exceptionally prosperous Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, several storekeepers said Sunday.

    During an afternoon lull in business, when the National Baseball Hall of Fame's induction ceremony was taking place, area shop and restaurant owners took a quick breath, reflected and expressed satisfaction with their sales for the weekend.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hall of Famers thank fathers for stepping up to the plate

    Great ballplayers thanking their dads at a Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is about as original as oil and vinegar are to an Italian restaurant.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hall_Maddux.jpg Hall of Braves

    The weird part was that Jeff Idelson didn't take a lot of time to answer.
    "Is there any word or description that unifies this class?" was the query posed to the National Baseball Hall of Fame's president.
    "The common thread among the six is profound humility," Idelson said of former managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, and former players Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, all of whom will be inducted into the Hall today. "I don't think I realized that fully until I spent time with them in December. It was uncanny to me, for the cumulative star power in that group, the humility among them. I think that's felt really strongly with baseball fans."

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos 1 Story

  • Hall_Cox.jpg Cox’s willingness to defend players stands out to local coaches

    Bobby Cox will be able to add Hall of Famer to his resume when he is inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame today in Cooperstown, N.Y.
    But the former Atlanta Braves manager’s legacy will remain the same to area baseball coaches: his willingness to defend his players.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Valwood_Henderson.jpg Area teams hoping to get over the hump

    Past successes lead to present and future expectations.
    That’s the task faced by pretty much all 12 area high school football coaches present Saturday at In The Game Magazine’s South Georgia Football media day at the Holiday Inn conference center.
    It’s a task that also has the elite group searching for answers as to how to get past the state championship road block in recent years, aside from Valwood’s GISA Class AA crown in 2012.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

Blazers Blog