DOBSON — As a retired first sergeant in the Army, the late Tom Pendergraft loved taking his Surry Community College golf team to the Intercollegiate Golf Championship at the Marine Corps Base in Camp Lejeune.
After shooting a record-low score of 289 over the weekend to best 15 teams in the Scarlet Division of the annual classic, the Knights dedicated the win to Pendergraft, who passed away in January.
“I am just proud of the guys. They said that win was for Tom because they said it was his favorite tournament,” said SCC golf coach Justin Young, who took over the program after Pendergraft retired in November. “All these guys were recruited by Tom. He did a lot of jumping out of planes and stuff like that and they wanted to dedicate this win to him.”
Last season, the Knights finished third on the Scarlet Course in Camp Lejeune, the program’s best finish in the three years Pendergraft took Surry to the prestigious invitational-only tournament before this weekend’s win. A soldier in the 82nd Airborne who served three tours in Vietnam, Pendergraft achieved master parachutist status and earned Bronze Star with V-device — fourth highest military decoration for valor. Prior to taking Surry to the Intercollegiate Golf Championship for the first time in 2015, Pendergraft spoke of what it meant to take his team to that particular tournament.
“It will be a great event and give these guys exposure to what the military is all about,” Pendergraft said at the time. “Being a retired First Sergeant, I am excited. I have always talked to these guys about the military, and just to expose them to the base and show them what goes on there, I think it will be an eye-opening experience for the kids.”
The Knights seemed to channel Pendergraft’s passion for the tournament over the weekend. Competing against 30 teams total, including several NCAA Division II and Division III schools, Surry competed on Friday on the Scarlet Course and Saturday on the Gold Course.
Sophomore Chris Dorsett from Mount Airy High School led the Knights with an even-par score of 70, missing medalist honors by one stroke on the Scarlet Course. Freshman Dylon Wooten of Alleghany and sophomores Dylan Ray (Forbush) and Brock Jessup (East Surry) all fired rounds of 73 to propel the Knights to the Scarlet Division championship. Hunter Maines, a freshman from Alleghany, carded a round of 75.
“I told the kids the first day was pretty good for us. We shot a record-low score for us with 289 on the Scarlet Course. That was only nine over par. That is pretty good out of four scores,” Young said, adding Surry’s players enjoyed being able to play on a separate day at Camp Lejeune with military veterans.
“They get some stories told to them about what some of them have done for our freedom. Most of the guys they played with this week were all Purple Hearts, so that was pretty cool.”
Ray led Surry on the Gold Course with a round of 75. Dorsett followed with a 77, Jessup fired an 80, Wooten recorded a score of 81 and Maines shot a 92. Surry’s two-day team score of 602 was three strokes better than Scarlet Division runner-up Husson University.
“I think this win will help us with our confidence. We have been so close this year. It’s just hard to put four good rounds together out of five people,” Young said. If two guys have a bad day, there goes the tournament. You have got to have four good scores and luckily we did that.”