Like a long lost friend, Benton Academy welcomed back golf into the athletic curriculum this year under the tutelage of Clay Ellis.
Ellis, a transplant from New Hampshire, though originally a New Yorker, moved to Benton to find that the town, despite having a country club, did not have a golf team for its only school.
That did not sit well with him.
“I retired and moved to Mississippi three years ago,” Ellis said. “I joined the Benton Country Club, and I began to wonder why Benton Academy did not have a golf team. It took a while, but I was finally able to discuss it with Mr. Flemming, and we were able to put one together. The Benton Country Club is the sponsor, so I think it is good for the school, the boys, the club and the community.”
In their return to action in years, Benton hosted a mini-tournament at the Benton Country Club on Wednesday that included Canton Academy and Leake Academy.
Despite having no match play as a team heading into the tournament, the Raiders did surprisingly well, placing second in the three team tourney.
Canton won the tournament with a combined score of 391, and they were led by Lane Martin, who shot a personal best of 88.
Benton placed second with a 423.
Anthony Ward led the way for Benton with a 99. Cole Ables had a 102 on the day. Grayson Lacey shot a 108. Zac Nesbit rounded things out with a 114.
Ellis was a bit surprised by his team’s performance, though he believes the best is still to come.
“I thought this was going to be a building year with raw materials,” Ellis said. “But we’re looking better than I thought. I’m very excited about our team. Most of our guys are young, eighth and ninth graders.”
Leake placed third in the tournament with a 441.
Benton will compete in the district tournament at Live Oaks on April 27.