Originally created 06/28/99

Home Front: Golf drives local couple

For Rick and Margie Hamilton, it's time to put their tournament faces on.

With the club championship at Pointe South Golf Club just two months away, the Columbia County couple is getting ready to defend their respective titles.

"It would be tough not to play in it," Mr. Hamilton said. "I think everybody out there really enjoys the tournament. It's a great challenge."

He's been the men's champ for the past six years. She's won the women's championship in five of the past six years.

"I had to drop out one year because I hurt my back," Mrs. Hamilton said.

The Hamiltons have been married two years. They met during the club championship three years and partied on the golf course following their wedding in July 1997.

"That was the fun part," Mrs. Hamilton said.

Since then, they've been nearly inseparable on local links.

"We very seldom play separately except for tournaments," Mr. Hamilton said. "Every now and then we'll sneak out and play alone."

They play four or five times a week now -- less in the winter -- and readily admit they are fierce competitors. He has a 2 handicap, she carries a 6.

"That's where some of the family problems come in," Mr. Hamilton said smiling. "If she plays the ladies' tees and I play the tournament tees, it's pretty well nip and tuck. She putts a lot better than I do."

While they enjoy playing at Jones Creek and Woodside Plantation, Pointe South has become home for the couple.

"The reason we play there is we like the people and we like the course," said Mr. Hamilton, who played golf for Augusta College in the 1970s. "I've played golf all my life, and it is the best-run golf course in the area. It's more of a family-type atmosphere."

Although the couple has dozens of tournament trophies between them, they display very few.

"We're just not sure where we are going to put them," Mrs. Hamilton said.

Most are packed away in cabinets in the den or stored in an upstairs closet.

"I'd rather have a picture hung than have trophies," he said. "Don't get me wrong, trophies are nice. But pictures just mean so much more."

For example, one of the black-and-white prints on their mantle shows a group of men posing after a tournament at Forest Hills. His father is on one side, her dad is on the other. And today, both say their parents were instrumental in their passion for golf.

"I'm using a set of woods right now that my dad didn't like," said Mrs. Hamilton, who enrolled in a junior golf class at age 10.

Now, they are trying to pass the passion down. Both are working with Mrs. Hamilton's nephew, 12-year-old Jordan Riner.

"He's going to be an excellent golfer," Mrs. Hamilton said. "He's a big boy."

Mrs. Hamilton is passing along the torch because she is cutting back on golf to pursue her doctorate in educational administration. She's only taking one course now, but plans to take two in the fall.

"I know golf will probably have to go for a while then," she said. "But we go into withdrawals if we don't play."

Jason B. Smith can be reached at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 115, or jbsmith@augustachronicle.com.


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