COVINGTON, Ga. — On the last shot of his Eastside golfing career, Sam Harper drilled a birdie. It just happened to be on the state championship stage at Cartersville Country Club, too.
Harper described the significance his last shot will carry about his high school career.
“I kind of had a rough state championship. It was a lot of fun, though. The second day, I was going out there and was trying to have a lot of fun,” Harper said. “When I made that birdie on the last hole, it really just put the exclamation point on my whole golf career here. It made it feel a little extra sweet.”
Harper’s Eastside career ended with being a back-to-back state qualifier and earned the low score of the entire field at the area tournament with a 1 under par this season.
However, Harper was swinging a golf club long before he became an Eagle his ninth grade season.
His dad, Lance, and grandad, Delano, plus a neighbor friend have been heavily influences on Harper gravitating toward his own golf career.
In fact, those individuals swayed Harper away from another sport he enjoyed playing at the time.
“My dad and grandad have always played it. But I grew up playing baseball. I played baseball forever until I was probably 11 or 12 years old,” Harper said. “I also had one of my friends play it who is also my neighbor. I was just always around it. It just kind of came to me like that.”
And, despite having a year-long adjustment period from a baseball swing to a golf swing, Harper found a home on the golf course.
“I usually like to go over there later in the day,” Harper said. “That’s my favorite time to play when it’s peaceful and not a lot of people are over there. It’s just out in nature. It’s one of the only sports where you go out and hit a ball around a field.
“When I’m out there golfing, there’s nothing else I’m thinking about at that moment. It’s what clears my mind for me.”
While discovering his passion for golf, Harper was a middle school student at Indian Creek Middle School. Indian Creek didn’t have a golf team for Harper to compete with but, as an eighth grader, he was allowed to practice and play in a few tournaments with Eastside.
Harper then became a full member of the Eagles’ squad his freshman season.
Now after Harper’s graduation from Eastside on Friday, May 26, he is glad to have pursued a high school golf career.
“Eastside was really like a home for me. I made so many memories there. I was there like half of every day. All of the teachers are pretty much perfect,” Harper said. “Mr. Cher, the principal, is probably the best principal I’ve ever had. He organizes everything so well.”
Upon reflection of his four-year career as an Eagle, many memories flood Harper’s mind. Above all, though, is last year’s area tournament match at Berkeley Hills Country Club in Duluth.
Then, there was this year’s experience playing at the Cartersville Country Club for the second time in Harper’s career.
But no other playing experience can compare to playing on Eastside’s home golf course — Ashton Hills Golf Club.
“It’s a very challenging course,” Harper said. “Everybody over there is cool. Ashton Hills is in good condition 99 percent of the year. I just really love that course.”
Next up for Harper is enrolling at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia. He plans to major in business and aspires to walk on to the golf team, too. In the interim, Harper is going to play a few tournaments over the summer.
No matter what his future holds, Harper is glad he’s enjoyed his high school golf career. So much so that he urges others to give golf a try if they have any inclination toward the sport.
“Definitely do it,” Harper said. “Coming into the game, don’t get too worked up or too frustrated on any one part of the game. It’s not going to come to you overnight. You just have to work at it over time.”