Justin Olive Brooks golf

Justin Olive, a rising senior at Brooks High, finished fourth in the Alabama Boys State Junior Golf Championships in Scottsboro. [PHOTO COURTESY ALABAMA GOLF ASSOCIATION]

Justin Olive picked up golf four years ago.

“It was just kind of something different to do in high school,” he said. “I’d played baseball and basketball my whole life and I just wanted to try something new.

“It’s more like a process. You can see the change faster.”

A rising senior at Brooks, Olive wants to play golf in college. He and his Brooks teammates were deprived of postseason golf this past spring — losing the chance to not only defend their 2019 Class 4A state title but also stand out to college coaches.

“If I just play well in a couple of tournaments, that would help out a lot,” Olive said.

Olive did just that last week in the Alabama Boys State Junior Championship in Scottsboro, finishing in fourth place with a three-round 207. Goose Pond’s Colony Resort Lake Course is a par-72, and Olive shot 69-70-68 over three days.

That fourth place is especially impressive given 63 golfers made the cut and dozens more were eliminated after two rounds.

“I definitely executed the par-5s well,” Olive said. "… I pretty much birdied them every time I played them. That was definitely the strength of my game (in that tournament).

“It definitely could have been better but the short game saved me.”

Olive said he has worked to improve his accuracy from the tee and fairway.

“Right now I’m doing drills to keep my right arm under control,” he said. “It’s getting better, but it’s going to take some time before it becomes natural.”

Things have been anything but natural lately for most athletes because of the coronavirus, but Olive plays at Cypress Lakes a few times a week and makes sure to keep his game sharp even when he can’t get to the course.

“I have a place where I can hit in the basement, and we have a couple acres of land where I can hit wedges and stuff,” he said.

Olive competed at Goose Pond with not only Brooks teammate Zach Ashley but many other golfers throughout the state he already knows. Max Johnson, a recent high school grad from Fairhope, won by four strokes with a 14-under 202.

“Congratulations to Max Johnson,” Olive said. “I’ve played with him in multiple tournaments. Super nice guy.”

Olive will be playing a couple more summer tournaments before returning to classes either in-person or virtually. But the weekend at Goose Pond was promising.

“I was definitely happy with it,” he said. “To score that well without having my best was pretty nice.”


Coaching change at Vina

Ben Guin has stepped down as head football coach at Vina, he told the TimesDaily on Thursday.

Luke Childers, who coached Vina to 10 wins from 2014-16, is the new coach, according to principal Brent Gillespie. Childers' best team at Vina was in 2015, when the Red Devils went 5-5 in the regular season and lost a first-round playoff game.

Guin coached the Red Devils one season, leading them to a 3-8 record. Vina qualified for the playoffs last fall for the first time since 2015, falling in the first round to Decatur Heritage.


Deshler’s Ramson commits

Deshler basketball player Donachia Ramson has committed to Gadsden State Community College, Deshler head coach Jana Killen posted Wednesday on Twitter.

Ramson helped the Tigers reach the Class 4A state championship game this past season.

She had four points, two assists and a rebound in a 64-52 state semifinal win over Sumter Central, and she added four points and three rebounds in a 61-51 loss to Anniston in the state championship game.


Locals featured at college event

Muscle Shoals graduate Sam Gargis finished tied for eighth in the Southeastern Collegiate Golf Tournament held last weekend at Cypress Lakes.

Gargis, who plays for the University of North Georgia, shot 70-74-71 for a 2-over 215.

Allen Michael Burnett, another Muscle Shoals grad who is at Wallace State-Hanceville Community College, finished tied for 16th with a 220.

Gargis and Burnett were part of a Muscle Shoals golf team that won three straight Class 6A boys golf championships.

Dakota Terry was UNA’s best finisher with a 224 that tied for 21st.

Keegan Bronnenberg, from the University of Indianapolis, won the event by three strokes at 7-under 206.

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Contact Craig at Craig.Thomas@TimesDaily.com. Follow him on Twitter: @TD_CraigThomas

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