By Ken MacLeod
No greater testimony can be made to the impact of Morri Rose and the Oklahoma Junior Golf Tour than to look across the state Wednesday at the number of state golfers signing to play collegiate golf across the nation.
Rose, who will be inducted into the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame Sunday evening at Southern Hills Country Club, was surely beaming with pride as player after player who has competed on the OJGT, many since they were 13, signed on the first day of the fall signing period.
“What a great legacy he’s laid out there,” said Oklahoma State coach Alan Bratton. “When he started that tour there was a desperate need for kids to have a place to play in the fall. All the best Oklahoma kids take a lot of pride in that tour and it’s going to be big shoes to fill for the next guy who runs it.”
Bratton hauled in two of the top state recruits with his signings of Stillwater’s Grant Gudgel, who won Class 6A as a sophomore, and current Class 2A state champion Collin Bond of Community Christian in Norman.
They will join Brady Catalano of Upper Arlington, Ohio and Parker Bunn of Salt Lake City, Utah in what is expected to be a class of five freshmen aiming to revitalize the Cowboy program.
Gudgel and Bond share the history of both being excellent athletes who grew up mostly playing other sports before starting to take golf seriously during Covid. Soccer was Gudgel’s first love while Bond was and remains an excellent basketball player who has two college basketball athletes for parents and a brother and sister who also are college basketball players. After sitting out his junior year to concentrate on golf, Bond will play his senior year this winter.
“Collin is an exciting prospect whom Morri first got us to think about,” Bratton said. “He’s a really athletic kid. He won the AJGA in Missouri (the Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Championship, making 14 birdies in 54 holes.)
‘Grant we’ve known him and his family his whole life. His mom was my dental hygienist and his father (Eric Gudgel, a long-time sales rep in the South Central Section) we’ve known forever. Grant is a good athlete, amazing competitor and an infectious personality. He’ll attract other good players as he’s someone everyone wants to be around.”
Since the current Cowboys squad is practicing mostly at Stillwater Country Club while Karsten Creek is being renovated, Grant is already like a member of the team, practicing frequently with current Cowboys.
“One of their freshmen Johnny Clark has kind of taken me under his wing and made me feel like part of the team,” Grant said. “We’ve probably played every day for the last three weeks. I’m thrilled and excited to be a Cowboy. Ever since I started getting serious about golf, this is what I’ve been aiming for and this is just an amazing opportunity for me.”
While those two standouts are heading to Stillwater, some of the other top junior players in the state are taking their talents to far-flung locals.
• Will Hennessee of Bishop Kelley, who won the Class 5A state championship at The Territory in Duncan last spring, signed to continue his career at Seton Hall in South Orange, N.J.
• Parker Sands of Edmond North, who shot a record 59 in the Oklahoma Open at Oak Tree Country Club in August and had the first-round lead in the Talor Gooch Foundation Junior Championship at Gaillardia Country Club after a 65, will take his penchant for blisteringly low rounds to the University of Florida.
“We are very proud to welcome Parker Sands and his family to the Gator Golf family,” said Florida coach J.C. Deacon. “Parker loves the game and his potential is off the charts. He shot 59 in the Oklahoma Open this past summer. A preview of what he’s capable of bringing to the Florida Gators. His character, work ethic and competitiveness were a perfect fit for our
Sands won the 2022 OGA Junior Boys Championship, was runner-up at the Class 6A state championship last spring and in the Talor Gooch Foundation Junior Championship.
• Sam Morris of Jenks is staying much closer to home, signing to play for Oral Roberts University in
“I’ve known Coach (Lance) Watson for a long time now, the facilities are great, I want to stay close to home, it’s awesome I can be able to do that,” Morris told the Tulsa World’s Barry Lewis. “ORU is the perfect spot for me.”
In his first two seasons at Jenks Morris has two wins and 15 top-5 finishes.
• Lucy Darr, daughter of OSU men’s assistant Donnie Darr, was one of two signees Wednesday by OSU women’s coach Greg Robertson.
“Lucy is a true Cowgirl having spent a lot of time around the golf programs since her dad coaches the men’s team,” Robertson said. “She has a lot of OSU pride and will be a great fit for our program. She works extremely hard, and it’s shown with the strides she’s made in the last couple of years.
“She will be a great teammate and will bring the kind of attitude that we’re looking for in a player.”
Darr has been a key figure in Oklahoma high school golf, collecting a bevy of honors while attending Stillwater High School. As a junior, Darr helped lead the Pioneers to the Central Oklahoma Athletic Conference title, where she earned the individual title and was named all-conference player of the year. At the Class 6A State Championship, she finished second in the field.
Darr also competed in a pair of high-level tournaments over the summer, highlighted by a fifth-place finish at the Talor Gooch Foundation Junior Championship with rounds of 71-72-73.
• Parker Payne, who won the Class 5A state championship for Noble in 2021, signed with Drake University.
Also signing Wednesday were:
• Peyton Coburn of Bishop Kelley signed with Bradley
• Britt Bailey of Oklahoma Christian signed with Northeastern State University
• Ty Hyatt, Stillwater, signed with the University of Central Oklahoma
• Roger Smith of Heritage Hall signed with Grinnell College
• Bryson Parker of Turpin signed with Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Neb.
• Connor Whitworth of Poteau signed with the University of Arkansas Monticello.
• Jaci Hartman of Turner signed with Northern Colorado
• Josey Cavitt of Turner, signed with the University of Central Oklahoma
• Allie Justiz, Arcadia, signed with Texas State
• Layne Ailshie of Fort Gibson has signed with the University of Central Oklahoma
• London Wilson of Ada signed with Southwestern Oklahoma State University
Any other state signings, please email to firstname.lastname@example.org.