MARTIN, Tenn. – Jerry Carpenter, the head golf coach at the University of Tennessee at Martin, has signed Tennessee high school standouts Zach Haynes and Hunter Richardson to National Letter of Intents to join the Skyhawk golf program.
Carpenter projects both players, who will join the team as freshmen in the fall of 2014, to immediately contribute once they step foot on campus.
“I expect both Zach and Hunter to compete for a starting position next year,” Carpenter said. “We were very pleased to win a recruiting battle with other Ohio Valley Conference schools and Division-I schools for their services to play golf.”
Haynes joins the Skyhawks after a successful career at Smyrna High School under head coach Mike Messerly. A left-handed golfer, Haynes is a three-time all-area selection by the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal, also earning the All-Sports Award from the newspaper in 2011 and 2012. He carded top-three finishes in three straight years in District 7-AAA play, including a first place finish in 2013. He also finished no lower than fourth place in three Region 4-AAA tournament appearances.
A three-time TSSAA Class AAA state golf tournament participant from 2011-13, Haynes earned a runner-up finish at state during his senior campaign. Playing at the WillowBrook Golf Course in Manchester, Tenn., Haynes turned in an impressive score of 142 (71-71), falling in a tiebreaker on the second playoff hole.
Overall, Haynes finished in the top-10 in 20 of his 26 tournaments played this past year. That resume includes the Knoxville Junior Open on March 16-17 (second place out of nine golfers), the Chateau Elan Junior Shootout in Braselton, Ga. on April 6-7 (second place out of 56), the Tennessee State Open Qualifier in Murfreesboro on April 29 (tied for sixth place out of 40), the Tennessee Junior Amateur Qualifier in Smyrna on June 10 (tied for sixth place out of 58), the US Junior Amateur Qualifier in Murfreesboro on June 24 (fourth place out of 60) and the Tennessee Junior Amateur Championship in Cleveland on July 9-11 (fifth place out of 72).
“Zach is a very tough competitor on the golf course that possesses a strong work ethic, strong iron play, good ball striking, making good decisions on the course and producing very nice iron shots to the green for good golf scores,” Carpenter said. “He played USA Hockey for nine years and that gives him a tough mentality for playing golf. Zach always shoots around par, which will make him a very strong collegiate player. He has played three junior tours with top finishes and many first place scores.”
Richardson comes to UT Martin from Clarksville High School, where he played for head coach Adam Welch. Richardson’s dynamic senior season included his first-ever TSSAA state golf championship appearance, where he finished tied for eighth place with a final score of 148 (72-76). He qualified for state by emerging victorious in both the District 10-AAA and Region 5-AAA tournaments.
An all-area selection by the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle, Richardson carded 21 top-10 finishes in 31 tournaments spanning from 2010-13. That included tournament victories in the 2010 TaylorMade/adidas Championship Series in Hendersonville (first out of 21), the 2010 Craig Rudolph Memorial in Clarksville (first in age division), the 2011 Craig Rudolph Memorial in Clarksville (first out of 42), the 2011 TSSAA AAA district championship in Dickson (first as both an individual as well as helping CHS to a team title), the 2012 Mayors Men’s Classic in Clarksville (first out of 55) and the 2013 Belle-Meade/Hillwood Invitational (first place overall).
Richardson also represented the West team in the Tennessee Junior Ruder Cup, hosted by PGA Tour professionals Scott Stallings and Brandt Snedeker.
“Hunter is a player that has enjoyed much success since his freshman year in high school with many first place finishes and top-10 finishes on the junior tours, plus excellent finishes in the state-sponsored events,” Carpenter said. “He has one of the best short games and putting strokes in the state. He possesses a very strong work ethic and a golf course demeanor that will make him a very strong collegiate player.”
Haynes and Richardson will join a Skyhawk golf program that has chalked up four tournament championships in the span of one calendar year. The Skyhawks ranked fifth in the nation in fairways hit last season and led the OVC in lowest scoring average (287.7) after the 2013 fall campaign.