The Meridian Star
Union High School sophomore Andy Ogletree has dreams of one day earning a green jacket at Augusta — to get there he will become a Yellow Jacket first.
While participating in the U.S. Collegiate Championships in Alpharetta, Ga. on Oct. 20, Ogletree announced he will begin his college career at Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets, who are currently ranked No. 2 by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, beat out in-state schools Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss as well as Georgia and LSU for Ogletee’s commitment.
“I took a few visits and just loved it,” Ogletree said. “The facilities they have are amazing. You get full membership to East Lake and Golf Club of Georgia, it’s just incredible. I want to go pro, and this will be the best place to let me do that.”
Ogletree is Georgia Tech’s only commitment for the Class of 2016. Despite receiving plenty of interest across the Southeast, he said the choice to play for the Yellow Jackets became clear.
“I just thought it was a no-brainer,” Ogletree said. “I kind of wanted to get it off my shoulders and feel a little bit more free about it. Now, I don’t have to worry about anything. I just have to go out and compete as best as I can and improve before I go there.”
Georgia Tech head golf coach Bruce Heppler has been recruiting Ogletree hard since the summer. It’s not difficult to see why either. Ogletree has already won back-to-back 2A state championships during his 8th grade and freshman years at Union. He also won the 2013 Future Tour Championship in Greenville in June before traveling overnight to capture his first American Junior Golf Association win Ringgold, Ga.
“They just like that I’m an athlete,” Ogletree said. “The college courses these days are so long, you need a player that can hit it a long ways. I’m pretty long off the tee. (Heppler) said that there is a type of player that he recruits and that I was the type of player he wanted on the team.”
Though he grew up in the small town of Little Rock, much of Ogletree’s golfing career was spent at Northwood Country Club in Meridian. After noticing his talent in the back yard at the age of five, Andy’s father Jim brought him to Northwood and former head golf pro Jimmy Gamblin to get his start on the greens.
“When I first saw Andy, it was unbelievable,” Gamblin said. “When he was five years old, he could do things that eight, nine, 10 and 11-year-olds couldn’t do.”
Working with Gamblin over his early career, Ogletree said his mentor has not only provided him with countless pointers, but more importantly the ability to coach himself. While other players bring swing coaches to tournaments, Ogletree comes only with the knowledge provided to him by Gamblin.
“I can video my swing and just fix it myself now,” Ogletree said. “That’s one of the biggest things to me. He’s never used any of the tracking stuff. He’s old-school.”
Gamblin said his approach has always been to build independence and confidence in Ogletree while not trying alter his swing too much.
The trust between the two is so strong that Ogletree even included Gamblin in his decision to commit.
“I talked with him throughout the whole recruiting thing,” Ogletree said. “I talked to him after all my visits. He thinks the same way I do about (Georgia Tech). It was really a group decision.”
Ogletree is scheduled to graduate in May of 2016 and said he plans on majoring in business with an emphasis on accounting while at Georgia Tech.
“He’s got all the tools right now,” Gamblin said. “I really believe that Andy could go out tomorrow and compete on the college level.”