On the “sure-thing” list in South Carolina golf, count on Columbia’s Robert Dargan collecting championship trophies in the SCGA’s Lefthanders Championship and the Lefty-Righty competition at Lake Marion Golf Club in Santee.
He worked his magic again last weekend, earning the Lefthanders’ title for the 10th time and playing on the winning team in the Lefty-Righty event for the 11th year. He fired a two-round total of 6-under 138 to capture the individual title and joined with brother David to win the team competition for the second straight year at 20-under 124.
“David played great and I did OK,” Dargan said. “He made a bunch of birdies and I helped out here and there.”
Playing and succeeding at a high level is nothing new for the soon-to-be 47 year old. The two-time winner of the State Mid-Amateur title has a summer schedule that includes the South Amateur, the Columbia City Tournament and striving to qualify for the U.S. Mid-Amateur. This spring, he experienced winning from another perspective, that of a coach.
Dargan took over the highly successful A.C. Flora High boys’ program and the Falcons added another state title to their collection. Harry Huntley coached A.C. Flora to 10 titles in 16 seasons, including the past six years. He turned the reins over to Dargan, and a seventh straight followed this spring.
“That’s been a great experience and a lot of fun,” said Dargan, who coached the girls team in the fall for the fourth year before taking over the boys squad. “Harry’s teams had a ton of success, and we had a lot of players who had been part of that success. We built on that.”
South Carolina Golf Association executive director Happ Lathrop often talks to players about “giving back to the game,” and the words rang true to Dargan, whose daughter played for the girls team.
“I had coached kids’ teams in soccer and basketball, and I thought, ‘Golf is one thing I do know about,’ ” he said. “I remembered what Happ always told us and believed this would be a chance to do what he talked about.
“When they asked me to take the boys team too, I thought it might be fun and I hoped I could make a positive impact. Harry had done so much. I hope I can help good players become great players. I told them about things I did at their ages, and they could learn from my mistakes.”
Success likely will continue. The boys’ program included 17 players, and the junior varsity dominated its competition. Add Jack Parrott, one of the state top juniors who will transfer to A.C. Flora from Heathwood Hall, to an already stout lineup and more championships could be on the horizon.
“The younger players see how the older guys work and what it takes to do well,” Dargan said. “They learn how to practice and how to figure out the game. We need the same thing to happen for the girls’ program.”
Meanwhile, the coach looks toward the summer and playing better than the “just OK” at Lake Marion. His players are watching.
Gracyn Burgess (Lexingtoin) posted a two-day total of 145 to win the Twin States Girls’ championship by four strokes at Windermere Club. … Levi Joiner (Prosperity) led qualifying for the South Carolina Amateur with a 6-under 66 at Oak Hills GC. … Fitz Woodrow IV (Lexington) shot 68 to lead qualifying for the CGA Carolinas Amateur at Westcott GC in Summerville. … At the Daniel Island Club’s Beresford Course, Mike Bodney (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Barry Chessman (Sarasota, Fla.) qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur. Marion Dantzler (Orangeburg) is second alternate. … Zack Gordon (Gaffney) won the boys’ title and Smith Knaffle (Murrells Inlet) earned the girls’ championship in the Carolinas PGA Junior tourney at the Hackler Course in Conway. Both qualify for the PGA Junior championship, set for August in Rumford, RI.