The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 14, 2014

Shady Spring’s ‘Young Guns’ enjoy experience

History has provided numerous famous foursomes. From the Fantastic Four of comic fame and the Four Horsemen led by Ric Flair in professional wrestling, as well as the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame led by legendary coach Knute Rockne to the Fab Four known as The Beatles, one of the most famous rock-n-roll bands of all time.

This weekend, the 34th BNI Memorial Tournament, sponsored by First Community Bank, has seen the gathering of four talented young golfers from Shady Spring High School.

Landon Perry, Todd Albaugh Jr., Dakota McComas and Brandon Keaton, all members of last year’s Tigers golf team, teed it up together for the first two rounds of the tournament, forming a new “Young Guns” group.

Perry, Albaugh and McComas all graduated from Shady Spring High School this spring, while Keaton will be a junior in August.

Perry and Albaugh, even at their young age, are tournament play veterans thanks to a solid high school program led by head coach Brad Bostic. Both players qualified for the West Virginia high school golf championship all four years of high school and captured regional titles the last two years.

McComas has played in the state golf tournament twice, while the younger Keaton missed last year’s championship after breaking his arm two weeks prior to the tournament.

The youngsters made the most of their opportunities and earned a third place finish in last year’s tournament after a move up Class AAA.

When asked what would be the group’s greatest accomplishment, the outspoken Perry said with a chuckle, “Getting along.”

“Probably our greatest accomplishment is getting to states and representing our school,” he said. “We all have good attitudes and don’t get real mad.”

“Winning regionals two years in a row,” Albaugh said was a huge accomplishment, especially after moving up to Class AAA.

The BNI Memorial provides a little different format for the “Young Guns.” During high school golf they were competing for individual medalist honors each round, but more importantly they were competing as a team for a team victory. Now they are strictly competing for an individual prize.

While that can create animosity among a group of competitive players, this group sees playing together as a positive.

“These guys are great players; they push you to win,” Perry said. “Yesterday, Todd made a 15-footer on the last hole to tie me. Today, I made a run on the back nine.”

Perry and Albaugh have several stories on each other already since they have played together since the sixth grade.

Perry recalls Albaugh passing out after his first hole-in-one. There was also the time Perry was celebrating a nice round of 35 to defeat Albaugh, only to trip on a towel and get a huge stain on his white pants.

McComas provided the story that brought the biggest laughter.

“I almost killed our golf coach once,” he said with a laugh. “We were playing at Brier Patch one year, (Bostic) was standing behind his cart and I bounced a shot off his head.”

Thankfully, the shot did not injure the coach.

Each will be heading in different directions as school approaches. Perry looks to make a mark on the initial West Virginia University golf team, and Albaugh will head to Concord University to play golf.

However, the BNI Memorial has always provided a venue where family and friends gather to renew aquaintances and remember fun stories of each other.

“We are definitely going to try and maintain our friendship,” Perry said. “If I can get with these guys every year, I will do it.”

The future is never certain for anyone, but these young men are well-mannered, well-spoken and have a desire to succeed. If they can maintain their focus and positive attitudes, there may be no limits to the success for the new “Young Guns.”

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