ETOWAH — This season is about leaving no doubt for West Henderson golfer AJ Shaffer. That swagger has carried him into a season of dominance when it comes to Western Mountain Athletic Conference play.
It has also created a trickledown effect as the Falcon team has dominated the WMAC landscape as well.
That dominance on both counts continued at Etowah Valley Golf and Resort on Thursday. Shaffer shot a 73 to take medalist honors, and West as a team shot a 330, which was a whopping 30 strokes ahead of runner-up Tuscola.
“This looks to me like a potential state championship team,” West coach Burton Harris said.
The Falcons are a team of eight with one senior, three juniors, a sophomore and three freshmen. Behind Shaffer’s 73 were teammates Wyatt Hughes (78) and Jayden King (85). Will Parker shot a 94 and Jordan Gibbs a 104.
Tuscola finished second with a score of 380. Erwin shot a 432 and North Henderson a 441. North’s Aidan Dillingham shot a team-high 99.
Shaffer expected this dominance before the season even begun.
“This was the first year where I had a good winter practice and kept my body in shape for golf only,” the junior said. “Coming into the season, I had high confidence.”
As for the actual buzz saw that opponents have run into on the course against Shaffer, he expected that, too.
“Absolutely,” he said. “That’s my goal. I get ahead and I want to win by 10 shots. I want to win by 20. I don’t want to leave any doubt about who the winner is.”
He talks about that confidence with his teammates before the tournaments begin. He wants them to exude that confidence as well.
“I just try and lead by that confidence,” Shaffer said. “They get a good feeling when they see me do the same.”
The backbone of this team has been together since their freshman season, Harris said. He knew the talent his team had and has enjoyed watching it this season, he said.
“It’s been exciting to see the development,” Harris said.
West’s next match will be next Thursday at Etowah.