MOULTRIE, Ga. — Two Colquitt County golfers who have been best friends since they were in elementary school will head off to different colleges later this year.

But they will still be teeing it up.

Chase Blanton is going to play at Georgia College.

Marshall McCranie is heading west to join the golf program at Andrew College.

The two played together on Colquitt County’s middle school teams and have had their scores count in every event since they became varsity Packers as freshmen.

They led the Packers to three tournament championships in this, their senior season, including the Packer Invitational at Sunset Country Club, their home course.

The tournament titles helped make their final season wearing black-and-gold even more memorable.

“He’s like a brother to me,” McCranie said of Blanton.

Blanton returned the compliment.

“Just having him out there … It’s been wonderful,” Blanton said. “He’s been right there with me since fourth or fifth grade … seven or eight years we’ve been together.”

Blanton has been one of the state’s top golfers this season, making five all-tournament teams and taking one second-place finish.

“I got off to a bit of a slow start, but then I found my groove in the middle of the season,” he said.

Sunset golf professional Aaron Elrod has been Blanton’s primary swing coach and also has been instrumental in helping the young player’s mental approach to the game.

“He’s always encouraging me, even when I’m not playing well,” Blanton said of Elrod.

Blanton credits Colquitt County golf coach Andrew Eunice on helping him make the decision on where to play collegiately.

“He’s helped me get in contact with coaches and has given me advice on how I should handle this new process,” he said.

“He’s also just been a great friend and coach and has done a lot of unselfish deeds to make me a better player and person over the last three years as my golf coach.”

Blanton also has two uncles — Kevin Blanton and Andy Blanton — who played golf for Colquitt County High and went on to play successfully at the college and professional levels.

“Throughout my career, they’ve been there for me,” he said. “They still give me advice.

“They’ve been a huge part of my career.”

Blanton said he was considering ABAC and Georgia College when the Georgia College coach called him and made him an offer.

The young golfer then made the trip to Milledgeville.

“It was a super nice campus,” he said. “I was really impressed.”

Georgia College plays in the NCAA Division II Peach Belt Conference.

Blanton hopes to study exercise science with hopes of becoming a physical therapist.

Although Colquitt County did not qualify for the Class 7A state tournament this year, McCranie was pleased with the Packers’ 2023 season.

“We didn’t finish on a high note, but I think we accomplished a lot this year,” McCranie said.

Winning the Packer Invitational was a high point.

“Coach Eunice set some goals for us and that was one of them,” he said.

McCranie said he really likes Andrew College coach Aaron Feyes, who has been the Tigers coach for 12 years.

“It looks like he makes it fun to play golf,” McCranie said.

McCranie’s swing coach is Jared Zak of Sea Island’s performance center.

Golf Digest calls Zak one of America’s best young golf teachers.

McCranie also gets advice from Dr. John Murray, a North Palm Beach, Fla., sports psychologist.

Andrew College, which is located in Cuthbert, is a National Junior College Association Division I program that is part of the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association.

McCranie plans to study business.

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