1978 Sooner High School Golf Team
The 1978 Sooner golf team had something to prove, not to other teams but to themselves. The Sooner Spartans had been one of the favorites to win the state championship in 1976 and 1977, but had come up short on both occasions finishing 5th in 1976 and 3rd in 1977. As the fall of 1977 came around, a determined group of golfers vowed it would not happen again.
The Spartans were led by Coach Joe Holladay, who by his own admission did not know a lot about golf, but he did know how to compete and win. As happened a lot in those days, he came to Bartlesville as the basketball coach and was given the golf coaching job to supplement his income. In 1977 and 1978, Coach Holladay took the Sooner High basketball team to its first ever state tournament appearances. He applied those same winning principals to golf: hard work, determination, mental toughness, and a little luck to build champions. The fact that he also had several future college golfers on his team didn’t hurt either.
The regular season went as planned. The team had a lot of success, but that was not the goal. The goal was to win the state title at Jimmy Austin golf course in Norman, Oklahoma. To add a little more pressure and significance to the season, their cross town rival – the College High Wildcats – had just dropped down to 3A after winning the last two 4A state championships. The Sooner Spartans held their regional tournament at Page Belcher golf course in Tulsa. It was a warm and windy day and the scores weren’t great, but when the dust settled, Sooner was the regional champion. College High also had won its regional at Claremore. Now it was off to Norman to capture the championship trophy.
The state tournament format was a 54-hole event; 36 holes were played the first day, followed by 18 on the final day. After the first day Sooner had a 14-shot lead over Jenks and a 15-shot lead over College High. As the last day began they were all a little nervous. They had been here before and had let it slip away. Not so this time. Sooner went on to win by 17 strokes over Jenks and 20 over rival College High.
The students who made up that champion team? They were Shawn Barker, Linda Brown, Jim Dunlap, Don Fryhofer, Tim Johnson, Dan Keleher, Gary McDonald and Allen Ripley, coached to victory by Joe Holladay.
Coach Joe Holladay
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