ATHENS, Ga. — Zach Brown and Preston Topper are best friends despite attending different schools in different states.
They are 14-year-old high school freshmen and are on the radar of some of the best colleges in the country.
They can’t drive cars, but they can drive for show and putt for doughnuts.
Both will attend the University of Georgia in 2019 and play golf for one of the elite programs in the nation.
“Obviously Coach (Jim) Douglass and Coach (Chris) Haack are the best coaches in the nation,” Zach said. “My best friend, Preston, is going here with me, and I’ve also met some of the commits and they are awesome, too. The environment at Georgia is awesome.”
“Athens is a great town and it’s a great school,” Preston said. “Then you have great coaches and a great practice facility; I think it is going to be a great time at Georgia.
Zach is a freshman at R.J. Reynolds High school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He started playing golf when he was 2 years old
Preston is a freshman at William and Reed Academy in Johns Creek, Georgia, and was late to the game. He first had a club in his hand when he was 5.
“I have played in at least 200 tournaments and won a fair amount,” Preston said.
He’s a modest young man. Preston has nearly 100 trophies in his house, with 60 of them being for first place.
“I just try to have fun, really. Because if I have fun, I feel like I play better,” Preston said. “When I start thinking of all the stuff that can go wrong, then you start playing bad. I just try to have fun and I play better when I do that.”
Zach played competitive basketball until last season, but quit to focus solely on golf, and the decision paid off immediately.
“I was actually Player of the Year for the Winter National Junior Series at Pinehurst,” he said.
You may have heard of some of the previous winners of that award: Webb Simpson, Jason Dufner and Johnson Wagner. All are current stars on the PGA Tour.
Zach’s and Preston’s schedules are similar and simple; school and golf.
“I get out (of school) at 3:45 and get to the course at 4 and get picked up at 7,” Zach said. “I try to practice 7 days a week. On the weekends it is the same as my summer schedule.”
Over the summer Zach is on the golf course from 9 in the morning to 6:30 at night.
Preston plays 18 to 27 holes every day, six-days a week, and in June, he won the Standard Club’s Men’s Golf Championship. He posted a 10-under three-round score (64, 70, 73) and became the youngest men’s champion in the 71-year history of the tournament.
The two still have three years left of high school, but are already counting down the days until 2019. If tradition holds, they know Coach Haack will take the team to play Augusta National.
“There is so much history at Augusta that once you play it, you are a part of the history, “Preston said. “I think it’s great.”
“It’s the heaven of golf, in my opinion. It’s the sanctuary of golf. Think it is going to be pretty awesome,” Zach said.
— By Zach Klein