Destin boys golf team add to the hardware

Todd Seagle | Special to The Log

Terry Gulledge stood on the edge of the practice green early Monday morning watching his Destin Marlins golf team prepare for the Okaloosa County Golf Championships.

A cold front had moved through Niceville overnight. It was windy and the greens at Eglin’s Falcon course had just been aerated a week earlier. It felt more like one of those cool overcast days at St. Andrews in Scotland instead of sunny Florida. It would not be a favorable day for scoring. Finally, he said, “well, it’s the same for everyone”.

Once play began the Marlins again showed they are in a league of their own, posting a solid team score of 159 to easily beat second place Ruckel by 26 strokes and seven other area teams to win their fourth straight County Championship and 11th in school history. The Marlins finish their season undefeated while easily winning all their matches by at least 25 strokes.

Following his round of one under par, Destin’s No. 1 seed Blake Rigdon reflected on his round.

“The condition today made it hard to make birdies,” Rigdon said. “I just tried to stick my approach shot so that I would have a short putt.”

Rigdon won the overall title and was the only player who finished under par. His teammates Parker Seagle and Tyler Clark both carded 41s, placing them in a tie for fourth. Tanner Morlan finished with a 43, placing all Destin golfers within the top 6 overall.

This team drew comparisons to the 2012 team, which now has three players competing in collegiate golf. They will be remembered as one the deepest teams in Marlin history, with each golfer stepping up with a solid round when another player had an off day.

Next year, Rigdon and Clark plan to move on to Niceville High School to play golf.

Destin will return both Morlan and Seagle together with a youthful core of fifth and sixth graders who will have their chance to contribute.

Sitting in the clubhouse following the tournament, Gulledge was already thinking ahead to 2018.

“We have a lot of young talented players that can help us next year if they put in the hard work during the offseason to develop their game. I’m looking forward to it.”