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2010 ALBANY HERALD ALL-AREA BOYS GOLF CO-PLAYERS OF THE YEAR: Josh Crews, Deerfield; Spenser Ferrell, Byne Christian

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- When Spenser Ferrell and Josh Crews pull out their golf clubs this weekend for their friendly head-to-head match at Doublegate, each will be staring back at The Albany Herald's 2010 co-Player of the Year.

But know this to be true: these two close friends couldn't be more opposite.

Ferrell, a Byne Christian star who capped his senior year by winning the Georgia Christian Athletic Association state title for the third year in a row, is headed to Darton College next season to play for Dale Dover's nationally renowned program.

As for Crews? Well, as only a freshman -- a freshman that won the GISA Class AAA state title in just his second year playing -- he's just getting started.

But the dissimilarities don't end there.

"He and I couldn't be more different -- other than the fact we like to trash talk to each other when we're playing and really want to beat each other," Ferrell said with a laugh. "I wish I had nearly as much God-given talent as Josh does. The guy doesn't even have to practice and he can just pick a club and shoot a 70. Me? I'm out there all day, working my butt off -- and we're still neck-and-neck."

Byne plays its golf season in the fall, while Deerfield's in the spring -- and that's where the polar-oppositeness end.

What's quite similar about their games is the ease with which they make their way through a golf course -- a fact never more evident this season when Ferrell crushed the field in the state finals with a career-low of 67, while Crews ran away from the best private-school golfers in Georgia with his 71 at state.

Of course if you ask Byne golf coach and A.D., Stan Edmonds, where he thinks Ferrell would stack up in Crews' arguably more difficult division in GISA, he'll quickly discount any notion that Ferrell wouldn't just hold his own -- he'd give Crews and everyone else a solid run for their money.

"Golf is like bowling: It's all on you, and if you're good, you're good. It doesn't matter who you're playing against," Edmonds said. "Spenser could've gone to a big private school or a public school and his game still would've shined."

Ferrell's shining moment in his senior season naturally came in the state final. And not just because he won running away.

Edmonds, who has a full-time job in addition to coaching three sports at Byne and serving as the school's A.D., has dedicated countless hours to coaching Ferrell during the four years Ferrell's been the Saints' star athlete walking the halls of the school. So when the state tournament rolled around this year, Edmonds made a special request to GCAA officials -- and it was one neither he nor Ferrell will ever forget.

"Well, when Spenser won the state title as a sophomore and junior, I didn't get to see one second of his round because they ask that the coaches for the players help out by following groups of guys who the don't coach," Edmonds said. "So when we got there his senior year, I just said to (the tourney officials), 'Look, it would mean a lot to me if I could be in Spenser's group as a volunteer this year because this is his last year and I'd really like to be able to watch him play.' "

The wish was granted, and Ferrell said while it added more pressure to win for a third time, is was a "good kind of pressure."

"I wanted to play good and make him proud because he's been such a big help to me and my golf game, so it kind of relaxed me," Ferrell said. "He's been a role model for me and it felt great to end on a good note -- and in front of my coach."

Crews knows a thing or two about trying to impress a coach. Deerfield's longtime boys golf coach Gordy Gruhl has made no secret of the fact that he thinks "the sky's the limit" for Crews, but has, at times, wondered whether Crews was fully dedicated to being the best in his chosen sport.

"I was worried about him when the year began because he didn't get off to a good start and hadn't really practiced to get ready for the season," Gruhl said. "But like they say, 'People don't remember how you start. They remember how you finish.' And Josh certainly proved himself to me this year by finishing the way he did."

Added Crews: "I didn't work like I should've -- I know that now. And I felt stupid for not coming more prepared. But coach Gruhl pulled me aside (and relayed how much) he believed in me and I just went out and put in the work. And he was right. It paid off."

Of course, Gruhl shared more than anecdote about being right when it came to trying to improve Crews' game this year.

"There were a couple of times when I thought he was being too aggressive, trying too hard and just taking ridiculously tough shots, even though they would oftentimes work out." Gruhl said. "So I would tell him to do the same shot, but with a different club or in a different way. And then he'd do it, and as it turned out, his way was better. So I finally just decided to shut up and let him play."

And that's exactly what Crews and Ferrell plan to do this weekend.

Although, no word if the winner will officially break the co-Player of the Year tie.

"Probably not," Crews laughed. "We'll have to play again -- and again -- (to decided that), no matter who wins. With us, it's always back and forth."