Andrew Gregory, HVJI 2021 Champion, reflects on an eventful year

“It is a quite nice tribute to the Hope Valley Junior Invitational Tournament that Andrew Gregory, the Boys Champion from 2021, and his dad, Lance, opted to come back again this year. There had to be many, varied and tempting competitions for their time as they sorted through life’s priorities. To their decision we say, “Thank you for coming back.”

It is also a treat that the two of them were willing to talk about their past year and would be willing to share some of their experiences. Dad told me, “Playing Junior golf is about so much more than golf-related activities. There are many life lessons to be experienced.”

And nobody can know what might be waiting around the next corner.
For these two Gregorys, let’s begin with the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, OR, just last week. Andrew had qualified to play there in the USGA Junior Championship. For lodging, they had to settle for a Vrbo residence about 30 minutes south of Bandon. The second day of play had them heading north on Hwy 101, well ahead of the tee time. But they didn’t get far; soon there was gridlock on the two-lane road. After not moving for about fifteen or twenty minutes, Lance approached a trucker ahead of them, who, on his CB, learned there was a head-on crash of a car with a logging truck about one mile ahead. The road was going to be blocked for at least an hour or two. Time for Plan B.

Andrew and his dad left the car, clubs on a shoulder, golf shoes in hand, walking. When the two walkers arrived at the crash site, there was an available trooper who Lance spoke with, and along with his help was able to convince one of the other onsite officers to escort Andrew to the golf course, traveling along the open-but-wrong-side of the road. Andrew made his tee time with 10 minutes to spare. Dad had to go back and get the car, was able to maneuver up to the crash site, and the officers let him pass through after doing some initial site clean-up.

Andrew and Dad had navigated beyond what lay around that particular corner.

But before Brandon Dunes this summer, there was the trip to Scotland for Andrew to be among nine others who would play on the South Carolina Junior Golf Association team and go up against Scotland’s Juniors, match play, ala Ryder Cup, in the Tom Watson Cup. They played at Muirfield, Royal Burgess and Gullane. And Andrew got to meet and personally visit with the great Tom Watson, the person who originated this new competition. Wow! The team also got to meet several players who were in Scotland for the Irish Open, along with Brandel Chamblee, and the grand finale was that, after the team won the cup, they got a surprise visit following dinner from the CBS golf broadcasting team including Jim Nance who took some time to chat with the boys and take some photos.

During the past year for Andrew there has been some other, continued, golf success, as he picked up a couple of SCJGA wins. And there has also been school, but not exactly school as usual. Our HV Junior Invitational Champ was “dual-enrolled” in Boiling Springs High as well as in South Carolina Upstate near Spartanburg. He will graduate with about 20 college semester-hours in the bank.

So, where does Andrew go from here? Short answer: he will attend Liberty University in Lynchburg on scholarship. Lance, a Clemson Alum, and who says he “Bleeds orange,” was torn in helping his son decide about college. In the end the choice settled on Liberty because of (1) the school has a great academic and overall reputation, (2) the golf coach is described by the duo as being an awesome guy, and second to none, who has had great success during 22 years of tenure so far at the school, and (3) the Liberty golf team has qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 10 of the past 11 years. So Andrew is looking forward to competing at the highest level in college golf.

Oh, and Andrew’s Boiling Springs Golf Team has won the SC 5A State Championship the past two years in a row.

Finally, Andrew wants to THANK the HVCC community for “hosting such an awesome tournament!”