Last weekend’s Augusta City Amateur at Forest Hills Golf Club went off without a hitch.
That hadn’t been the case the past couple of years for the 54-hole event, but head pro Sarah Mooney and general manager Dan Elliott got it right this time.
When you’re dealing with the largest field (115 players) of any local amateur event, it’s not easy to pull that off.
The smartest thing they did came after they saw Friday’s opening round stretch into the six-hour range for some golfers.
For the second round, they sent the leaders off in the first group of the day, at 8 a.m., instead of last, as is normally the case.
They also realized play got backed up on the par-5s in the first round because many of the players were going for the green in two shots, a recipe for slow play. So for the second round, they moved the tees back on those holes, discouraging all but the longest of hitters from going for the green in two.
The result of these two moves? The first group of the day, which featured leader and eventual winner Shad Tuten, was done before noon.
“It took us 61/2 hours (in the first round) and less than four today,” Tuten said after the second round. “We waited on every shot the first round.”
The early start caught Tuten by surprise, though.
After the opening round, he went to get something to eat. On the spur of the moment, he came back to the course to check his starting time.
When he saw 8 a.m. next to his name, “I said, ‘Man, I better go to bed.’ I thought, ‘This is a little different.’ When you play good, you expect to get out here late the next day.
Despite having to rise at 6 a.m. to get ready, “It was quite nice,” he said. “It was perfect weather. When you’re the first ones on the course, the greens are perfectly cut. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
The senior division’s first-round leaders went off at 9, as the seventh group on the course, and also played much faster.
“The pro and general manager are to be commended,” said eventual senior division winner Danny Daniels after the second round. “They turned a
six-hour round yesterday into a five-hour round today.”
MAKING AN IMPRESSION: The play of former Aquinas golfers John Christian Whyte and Nix Duncan in the City Amateur had to catch the attention of Georgia Regents golf coach Kevin McPherson.
Both had been in touch with McPherson about trying to make the team this fall as walk-on freshmen.
What they did at Forest Hills no doubt helped their cause. Whyte finished fourth (74-66-70), five shots behind the winning Tuten, and one shot behind current GRU golfer Meechai Padungsiriseth.
As for Duncan, a former Irish soccer star who has been a quick learner since taking up competitive golf just more than two years ago, he tied for seventh place (73-74-69).
PAINE TOURNAMENT: The popular Paine College Golf Tournament will celebrate its fifth anniversary in late August.
“It is extremely special for us to make it to a milestone like this,” Paine Athletic Director Tim Duncan said.
The tournament will surpass the $1 million mark in net profits – all of which go to the golf program – when this year’s event is played Aug. 26 at Gordon Lakes Golf Course. Interested golfers can sign up by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call (706) 821-8428. The cost is $125 per player with an Aug. 12 deadline.
The tournament has netted more than $91,000, according to Duncan. That money, he said, has been a key reason why the Lions have won back-to-back Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles.
“It’s a direct correlation,” Duncan said. “We were able to fund additional scholarships and we were able to support some of our operational needs due to the people in the community who have embraced this event. People like to associate themselves with winners. This is a great program.”
Three major sponsors – Outback, Chick-fil-A and WJBF-Channel 6 – have been aboard since the beginning, but more sponsors, both big and small, are being sought, Duncan said. That is especially true now that fundraising is also in full force for the school’s new football program, which starts with four club games this fall.
“We try to get people to donate where their passion is,” Duncan said. “We’re blessed to be in Augusta, where there is a lot of passion for golf. There’s a lot of passion for football. Both programs are very needy. College athletics has gotten to be a very expensive endeavor and many colleges are seeking community help and Paine College is no different than those.”