Originally created 12/06/01

Mission accomplished



In the early 1990s, Lance Jones was pushing age 40. He was an above-average golfer, one of the best at North Augusta Country Club.

That wasn't enough for Jones, a self-improvement disciple.

"As a personal achievement, I wanted to win the club championship at my own golf club," Jones said. "That's the mark of a good golfer."

After hundreds of hours of lessons and practice, Jones has that club championship. Jones, now 46, won the 2001 title at North Augusta Country Club, shooting 70-74-144.

"I'm a very competitive person with myself," Jones said. "That's why golf is good for me. I like to set personal goals and achieve them."

Jones is one of 24 men's club champions at area courses, which have held their club championships throughout the year.

Jones was born and lived in North Augusta until business concerns in 1981 took him to stops in Delaware, Atlanta and New York. When he returned to North Augusta 10 years later, he was a five-handicapper.

"That was best I'd ever been," Jones said. "I decided I wanted to get better, so I started taking lessons and working on my game."

He intensified that work after losing the 1994 club championship to Gregg Gadapee in a sudden-death playoff.

"I'd never been in contention before," Jones said. "It made me even more determined to get a better golf game."

So, at an age when most golfers are accepting their faults with a shrug of the shoulders, Jones tried to get rid of his. He took lessons from such teachers as Mike Chitty, Jackie Seawell, Kevin Ratcliffe and Jamie Felder.

"I keep making improvements because I'm willing to take lessons at my age," Jones said. "I still take lessons from Jamie. You just need someone to look at your golf swing. It can change over time, and you can start picking up bad habits."

A golfer can have all the correct fundamentals in the world, but if he can't execute them under pressure, he'll never be competitive.

To that end, Jones took what he was learning from his instructors and put it to the test by playing in the Regions Cup tournament series, starting in 1992.

"I played on the North Augusta High golf team in high school, but I'd never played competitively since then," Jones said. "When I started back, you learn what you do when you start getting nervous. I start duck-hooking it because my swing gets quick. I had to learn how not to do that under pressure. That takes time."

Jones has yet to win a Regions Cup tournament, but he's one of the best players on the circuit. He has the longest running active streak of making the season-ending Regions Cup Matches, which brings together the top eight point-getters during the season from South Carolina and Georgia each year. Jones has played every year since 1993.

In Regions Cup tournaments, Jones has finished as a runner-up twice, been third on four occasions and has 14 top-10 finishes.

Winning on the Regions Cup circuit was not among his top goals when Jones start reshaping his game in the early 1990s.

"There are two things I wanted to do in golf in my lifetime," Jones said. "I wanted to get a hole-in-one, and I wanted to win my club championship."

Jones has three aces, all at North Augusta Country Club. They've come in 1992 (on No. 2), 1997 (No. 17) and this year (No. 6). All that was missing was the club championship.

"It's just a silly game, but it (winning the club championship) meant a lot to me," Jones said. "I'm 46, and I'd tried for nine or 10 years. Every year that I'd come close, it would depress me because I knew I was getting older, and my chances were going to be less and less. It was a relief because I'd waited so late in my life to be competitive. It made it really sweet.

"I thought time was running out," Jones said. "When you get really close and don't win, it's hard to believe you're ever going to win. It's the Greg Norman-at-the-Masters syndrome. You start thinking about it."

In the club championship, Jones eagled the par-5 10th hole in the final round to open up a lead he never lost. Jones parred the final eight holes to secure a three-shot victory.

A repeat victory in the club championship in 2002 would be nice, but Jones knows "it would be nothing like the first time.

"It's like my first hole-in-one. That was something I'd longed for and dreamed about my whole life," Jones said. "It's something you can't buy. You just have to work hard for it, and it still may not happen for you. Some people never get a hole-in-one, and some never get that victory."

Here is a list of the 2001 club champions from area courses. All the courses, with the exception of Forest Hills Golf Club, hold men's club championships. Some do not hold club champions for women, seniors or juniors.

Aiken Golf Club: Chad Meldrum

Applewood: Chet Dye

Augusta Country Club: Henry Claussen

Augusta Golf Course: Chip Whitaker

Belle Meade: Wren Fowler

Cedar Creek: Mike McCarthy

Green Meadows: Mark Sapp

Gordon Lakes: Joe Shiver

Goshen Plantation: Fred Ogden

Houndslake: Mike Wiland

Jones Creek: Jake Headrick

Midland Valley: Rusty Flanders

Mount Vintage: Craig Godwin

North Augusta: Lance Jones

Palmetto: Dale Haas

Persimmon Hill: Brian Webb

Pine Ridge: Jason Gabriel

Pointe South: Rick Hamilton

River Golf Club: Jeff Pope

Rocky Branch: Ryan Smith

Savannah Lakes: Ronnie Kidd

Three Oaks: Mark Whitaker

West Lake: Mike Kerbelis III

Woodside Plantation: Ron Schroder

Women:

Augusta Country Club: Jan Cross

Augusta Golf Course: Diane Shuler

Belle Meade: Anita Young

Cedar Creek: Pat Sullivan

Gordon Lakes: Paulette Keener

Goshen: Sandra Moody

Houndslake: Dawn Sunvvall

Midland Valley: Liz Scheuer

North Augusta: Judy Phillips

Persimmon Hill: Mary Helen Duffie

Pine Ridge: Carol Salowitz

Pointe South: Margie Hamilton

Rocky Branch: G.G. Magoulas

Savannah Lakes: Cecelia Hellen

West Lake: Jan Cross

Woodside Plantation: Bonnie McCormick

Seniors:

Belle Meade: Bob Ballard

Cedar Creek: Jerry Sullivan

Gordon Lakes: Chuck Withers

Houndslake: Charles Hartline

Jones Creek: Steve Nelson

Mount Vintage: James Kile

Palmetto: Bill Townsend

Persimmon Hill: Charles Price

Pine Ridge: Wayne Marchant

Pointe South: Rick Hamilton

Rocky Branch: Randall Edmunds

Savannah Lakes: Ronnie Kidd

Three Oaks: Jimmy Veal

West Lake: Charles Durand

Woodside Plantation: Bob Boeke

Juniors:

North Augusta: Casey Thompson

Pine Ridge: Dan Booth Jr.

Rocky Branch: Ben Johnson

Three Oaks: Todd Greene, Scott Lord

West Lake: Matt Bielewicz

Woodside Plantation: Jason Hinkson

Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851.