The Paine College Golf Tournament, which has raised more than $150,000 for the school’s golf program in its five years of existence and is 33 days away, might have an 11th-hour date change.
The tournament, scheduled for Aug. 25 at Gordon Lakes Golf Course, will be moved to Paine’s homecoming week in October – if Gordon Lakes approves the change.
Gordon Lakes general manager Bill Fumai is on leave, but will be back Thursday. That’s when Paine College Golf Tournament co-chairman Kenny Larry will ask him about the proposed change.
The idea of changing the date was approved by the tournament’s board Tuesday during a meeting at Augusta Municipal Golf Course. The proposed new date is Wednesday, Oct. 15.
“We got behind,” Larry said. “So now this will give us some time to get back out there and work hard and make this doggone thing successful like it has been in the past.”
The problem, Larry said, is “not one particular thing. It’s been several factors. The negative press has not been good with what’s going on with the institution, there has been a transition between the athletic directors and Mrs. Wimberly (Paine’s Frances Wimberly), who has been a key factor, had knee replacement surgery.”
Another problem is the fact the fliers announcing the tournament date went out later than normal. Larry said only three teams have signed up for the tournament, which has had a full field of 50 teams in each of the previous years.
Interim athletic director Selina Kohn came up with the idea of moving the date to homecoming week.
“That week for us at Paine is going to be a historic week. It will be the first time we’ve had a homecoming during our football season,” said Kohn, who attended Tuesday’s meeting.
In addition to local support, Paine hopes some out-of-town alumni, who normally arrive Thursday for homecoming activities, will come a day earlier and play in the tournament. Mailers for homecoming activities have not been sent out yet, so the golf tournament date change could be added if it is approved by Gordon Lakes.
“I didn’t want to completely not have it, but I thought it would give us some time to put together a solid type of golf tournament. It will give us more time to make it more top-notch,” Kohn said.”
“We’re going to be on a high that week (because of homecoming),” said Leadra Collins, Paine’s director of development of institutional advancement. “It will be a great way to engage the community in the college even more.”
Kohn told Larry about her idea of the date change Sunday.
“I think it’s a fabulous idea,” Larry said. “This golf tournament, because of the work everyone has done over the past few years, is one of the best things that’s happened for Paine. It has raised a lot of money, a lot of awareness. People are so happy about participating in this golf tournament, it’s just unreal.
“All of us have taken pride in this and we want it to be successful,” Larry said. “The worst thing for anything to happen is if something is good, good, good and then it looks bad because everybody always remembers when it looks bad. We don’t want that to happen.”
PERSUASIVE PRO: If not for Sarah Mooney, the head pro at Forest Hills Golf Club, Shad Tuten might not have defended his title in the Augusta City Amateur last week.
The former Armstrong Atlantic State golfer ended up shooting 68-69-65 to win by 12 shots.
Mooney said three weeks ago she asked the 22-year-old Tuten on Facebook why he had hadn’t signed up for the tournament.
Tuten, who grew up in Elberton, Ga., and now lives in Savannah, Ga., replied that he didn’t know if he was going to play.
“I said, ‘You’re the defending champ, of course you’re going to play,’ ” Mooney said. “ ‘I’ll see you in a couple of weeks.’ ”
“I’m glad I played,” Tuten said, chuckling as Mooney recalled the story.