Dawson County graduate Blake Palmer has had an illustrious career playing golf at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C. Palmer is the No. 1-seeded player for the Bulldogs under head coach Tee Burton entering his senior year.
One of the highlights of his career was leading the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship after one round. Palmer shot a 6-under par 65 at the Woodlands Course at Chateau Elan Golf Club in Braselton.
The three day event was held April 21-23. Palmer held a 4-stroke lead after the first round of play. Led by Palmer, the Bulldogs led the other nine teams by eight strokes.
Palmer recorded seven birdies, against only one bogey, in the first round. His first-round score matched the second lowest first-round score in Men’s Championship history and the third lowest 18-hole total for any round.
“I putted really well and hit the ball great too. I just got them started and they went in,” Palmer said.
The next two rounds were a different story for the Bulldogs. “I just let the pressure get to me, and it kind of went down hill from there,” Palmer said.
Palmer shot a 77 and 80 in the next two rounds to finish the tournament at a 9 over par 222 for the 3-day event.
Contacted at the pro shop of a local golf club in Boiling Springs, Palmer was very excited about the upcoming season.
“This will be my last time around here. I have been working at some weak areas of my game. I hope next year we can capture the team championship,” he said.
“Blake has been a very big part of our program since his freshman year. He has competed in every tournament we’ve had since his got here and has probably been our most consistent player throughout this time. He has been a second team all-conference performer and our low stroke average for the last three years,” Burton said about his number one player.
“The conference tournament, especially after the first day, has been the highlight of my career so far,” said Palmer. “I was leading the number two player in the nation from East Tennessee State by eight shots and I just couldn’t hold on,” he added.
“Blake’s work ethic has been very good. He likes to spend most of his time on the golf course instead of beating balls on the range. He really knows how to play the game. His technique may not be textbook, but he knows how to make the ball do what he wants it to do. This to me is the strength of the game. A lot of players today spend all their time working to have a perfect swing, then when they need to do something in competition they can’t do it. Blake plays his best when he goes out and lets everything happen and doesn’t try to force anything,” said Burton.
Palmer got serious about golf at Dawson County High School when he was 17 years old.
“Before then I would only play about five times a year,” Palmer said. “I thought that the best way to get a college scholarship was in golf, so I dropped all the other sports and concentrated on golf,” he added.
Blake has a goal to get on the pro tour after college, but most importantly he will finish his degree in business management in four years. This is almost unheard of from a college athlete because of travel and time commitments involved in playing sports.
“I took 16 hours every semester and went to summer school so I could graduate on time,” Palmer said. “I really love golf, but I know that I can’t do that forever. If the golf thing doesn’t work I want to come home and promote Old Dad’s wing sauce (chicken wings) for my dad,” said Palmer.
“He’s got many of the things you need to play on the pro tour. He drives the ball very well and his irons are normally very good. As his wedges and putter improve, you’ll see great things from Blake,” Burton said of Palmer’s chances at playing golf at the professional level.
“I thought about maybe starting on the Tar Heel Tour after college,” Blake said.
“This particular tour is in North Carolina and is pretty good. We will just have to see how my senior year goes.”
“I expect nothing but a great year out of Blake this year,” Burton said. “I think if he plays like he’s capable, he has a chance to be the player of the year in our conference. We’ve got a more competitive schedule this year and that should help him get some well deserved recognition,” Burton added.E-mail Pam Jacobs at email@example.com.