By Jeff Nations
QUICKSBURG -- The trait Stonewall Jackson High School golf coach Roger Wilkins might remember most about senior Andrew Good could be any number of attributes -- his amazing work ethic, his undeniable talent on the course, his impressive academic achievements off it -- there's plenty to be proud of as a coach.
Wilkins might well go another direction, though, when it comes to Good. While the Generals' top golfer displayed all those other traits during his career, the first thing Wilkins spoke about was another -- first and foremost, Good was a great teammate.
Good, The Northern Virginia Daily's 2013 Golfer of the Year for the second straight year, garnered the award for his accomplishments this season. But Wilkins will tell you that he's been working the last five years to get his golf game -- and his team's success -- to the highest level possible.
"As a sophomore when he was the only one to make it to regionals, the first thing he says to me is, 'Next year, I want the team to come with me,'" Wilkins said. "So his junior year we go along and we made regionals. Then he made states as a junior, and after state was over he said, 'Next year, I'd like the team to go.'
"Even though it's an individual sport in some ways, his first comment to me was always, 'I want our team to come next year.' The kid's just a wonderful kid."
With Good leading the way this year, the Generals did indeed make it to the state tournament. Not satisfied to just get there, though, Stonewall Jackson nearly took the championship at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club in Front Royal. Tied with Graham for the lead after the first day of the two-day tournament, Stonewall had a rare off day in the finale to finish seven strokes back (662) at the state tournament.
That came at the end of the season, though, and there was much Good and his teammates had to accomplish simply to create that opportunity.
The postseason actually began for the Generals with the new Conference 35 tournament. Runners-up the previous three years in the Shenandoah District tournament (which eliminated its tournament this year) -- by two strokes, each time -- Stonewall was aiming for a long-awaited championship when they hit the links at Heritage Oaks in Harrisonburg.
It was on that day, one of the most important of the season for the Generals, that Good was at his absolute best. His 2-under-par 68 was good enough to earn low medalist honors and helped Stonewall to a 301. That score topped runner-up Strasburg by six strokes for the championship.
"Probably that would have to be my best round this year," Good said. "Just the 68 and winning it, that's the best I've played all year. And of course, helping us get to regionals at that point was really big for me, too."
Good said he struck the best shot of his high school career that day, as well.
"On 16, I had probably the best drive I've ever had on a hole," Good said. "It was a dogleg right, and I hit driver and caught it perfect for a baby fade -- it just went right with the course. Then I hit a seven-iron to the green, got the par 5 in two.
"It was sort of like two of the best shots I've ever had back-to-back. I put the seven-iron pin high on the back, then made an easy two-putt birdie from there. So I think that hole really helped me coming down the stretch. I only won that tournament by one stroke."
The Generals moved on to the Region 2A East tournament the following week at Kiskiack in Williamsburg, and that day provided its own challenges. Twice delayed by lightning and eventually shortened because of it, the regional tournament proved to be another showcase for Good's unflappable nature. He tied teammate Colton Harlow with a 39 to lead the Generals to another victory with a combined 159.
"Regionals, that was one of those times where we all came together and played how we needed to play in the conditions," Good said. "That was really fun for me. When we had the lightning break, the Strasburg coach [Ricky Bowley] actually went around and gathered up scores so we knew where we were going back out. Colton and I were on 8 and we had two players on nine, and I think we were two strokes in front of [Buffalo] Gap at that point. So we needed to finish with pars, no bogeys, and we had three people left to go."
Teammate Ben Rosenberger finished with a bogey, and Harlow managed to save par. That left it up to Good, who made a birdie on the No. 8 hole and two-putted on No. 9 to lock up the title.
"I felt we played clutch in that moment, going back out there in the rain with all the conditions," Good said. "We did what we had to do, and the fact that we were able to get it done is a great feeling."
The good vibes carried through the first day of the state tournament, where Harlow's strong opening day helped Stonewall forge the tie with Graham. Good wasn't thrilled with his 82 in the opening round, and the Generals as a group felt they could do more on the second day.
"It just didn't happen," Good said.
Good did improve by two strokes on the second day of the state tournament, but Stonewall collectively just didn't play its best.
"Colton was the only one that played how I think we all should have played," Good said. "He had a great round. But me, I should have been down there in the 70s -- high 70s, at least. I know some of the other guys wanted to be a little bit lower, but we did what we needed the first day. We were still in it. Then the second day, we just didn't do what we needed to do."
Good and his teammates were disappointed with the runner-up finish, but in retrospect a second-place state finish is still an accomplishment he's proud to have been a part of this year.
Harlow, a fellow senior, said Good set the tone for the Generals this season.
"Obviously he's an amazing golfer, probably some of the best work ethic I have ever seen," Harlow said. "He puts all the work into it. We would go to a two-hour practice, two-and-a-half hour practice and I would be getting in my car to leave after we already did putting drills and did extra work, and he's still out there till dark."
Wilkins, who first started working with Good five years ago when he and Harlow volunteered as team managers, echoed that sentiment.
"He might not be the top athlete in the school, but he outworks everybody to get every ounce of energy out of himself to be the best golfer he can be or the best wrestler he can be," Wilkins said. "That's what most kids don't have. Some kids just settle. He won't settle."
Good had a long list of people to thank for helping him achieve so much, including Wilkins, his parents and the other Stonewall golf parents for their support, teaching professional John Rogers at Lakeview Golf Club in Harrisonburg for improving his swing, and the staff at Shenvalee Resort for their unflagging encouragement and interest.
And of course, Good credits his teammates for making this year such a great one.
"We're all friends before we start playing golf, and I think playing golf just kept it that way," Good said. "Just playing loose and joking around with everybody, but we also knew this year could be something special if we were willing to put that work in. It wasn't like we were struggling along. We worked hard, but we loved it so it was fun."
Good is interested in playing collegiately next year, and has already been accepted into Methodist University and plans to apply for its PGM (Professional Golf Management) program.
"You fulfill all the criteria to be a PGA professional through that program," Good said.. "And also, that's one of the only schools where you can be in that program and also try out for the golf team, so I'm thinking to try out for the team. They have one of the top Division III programs in the nation, so it's going to be some stiff competition. But yeah, I'm going to definitely try."
Right now, Good is focused on wrestling season. But even with winter fast approaching, he'll still be out on the course working to improve his golf game.
"You're not going to find another young man who's worked as hard as he has at the game of golf," Wilkins said. "As soon as wrestling's over, he's out on the course. You're talking in the cold, in March, whatever. And he doesn't stop until the end of the season."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or email@example.com>