The Gordon Lee High School girls’ golf team have had their share of outstanding players over the years, but they’ve never had a one-two punch quite like Macall Miller and Jessica Hickman.
For the second straight year, the two have been named the Girls’ Co-Golfers of the Year for Walker County. Together, the seniors combined to help the Lady Trojans earn a second consecutive Class 1A Public School state tournament runner-up trophy last month and did their part over the past four seasons to increase Gordon Lee’s mark on the statewide high school golf map.
“It’s really an honor (to get the award) because there are so many good girls’ golfers in our county,” said Miller, who has shared or won the girls’ county award the past four years. “It makes me feel like I’ve been playing well enough.”
Miller got off to a flying start to the 2019 season as she shot a girls’ school-record tying 74 at the Heart of Georgia tournament at the Ouchee Trail Country Club in Cochran. She later fired an 82 at the Heritage Five-Star Invitational at Nob North to help her team tie Dalton for first place (the Lady Catamounts would win the title on a tiebreaker).
She went on to shoot an 84 at the Area 3-A tournament at the LaFayette Golf Course, but bounced back with a vengeance at the state tournament. She shot rounds of 75 and 76 at the Southern Hills Golf Club in Hawkinsville to earn the individual runner-up trophy and help Gordon Lee take home runner-up honors in the team standings.
“The year started off really good with the 74,” she explained. “It got a little rough there in the middle, so I really wanted to finish well at state and I did. I shot the two most consistent (consecutive) rounds I’ve ever shot.”
Miller said her biggest improvement from last year has come in the mental aspect of the game.
“I’ve gotten a lot stronger with that,” she added. “As far as my playing goes, it’s my short game. I’ve gotten a lot better with my wedges.”
Miller, who signed to play at the University of Montevallo in Alabama back in December, said she is excited to get to play golf at the next level.
“My goal is to go down there as a freshman, make it into their top five and to play as many events as I can,” she continued. “I really want to help the team get better, but I’m going to miss all the people at Gordon Lee. We’ve all grown up together through middle school and I’m also going to miss Coach (Derrell) O’Neal. He’s helped us through so much.”
Meanwhile, Hickman was equally as excited to win a share of the county honor once more.
“It feels great,” she said. “I really wasn’t expecting it again this year, but it’s great to be able to share the award with Macall. We both had really great seasons and she did really great at state.”
Hickman played steadily throughout the season, but once again turned it on when it counted the most. She shot a season-low 79 at the Five-Star Invitational and followed it up with another 79 at the area tournament to win her first individual area low medalist title.
She went on to record another top-five finish at state (Hickman was individual runner-up at state as a junior) with rounds of 84 and 83 as she placed fifth overall.
“I started (the year) a little bit rough, but everything started to click at the end,” she said. “I’m sad I didn’t do as great at state as I did at (area), but I still had a good season.”
She said she has added distance off the tee, but that her mental approach to the game has also improved.
“I’m hitting the ball farther, but I’m trying to play the ball smarter and put it where I want it,” she explained. “I like to have my approach shots from about 100-120 yards out, so I’m just trying to play a little smarter. My putting and short game have gotten better too. It all really clicked this season.”
Hickman will attend Georgia Southern in the fall and while she said she will not play college golf, she does plan to keep playing for fun.
“I’ll really miss the team,” she added. “I’ll miss the four of us girls just hanging out every day after school and Coach O’Neal has been so great this season. He helps us with a lot more than just golf.”