Originally created 04/03/02

Clubs spruce up courses



Forest Hills Golf Club undergoes a rigorous spring cleaning during the weeks leading up to the Masters Tournament.

"We gather up all the limbs and pine cones and that sort of thing. We do a lot of weeding and small mowing that we don't normally do during the winter," General Manager Red Price said.

But the course where Bobby Jones won the Southeastern Open in 1930 - the year of his Grand Slam - isn't just spiffing up for Masters fans. The club is preparing for college golfers who will compete in the Cleveland Golf/Augusta State University Invitational on Saturday and Sunday.

Since 1979, Forest Hills has held the tournament the weekend before the Masters, and the timing is no coincidence.

"That was the way we originally decided to do it," said Mr. Price, who has been the club's general manager for 22 years.

Collegiate golfers look forward to the invitational because of the excitement in the air as the city gears up for Masters Week, he said.

"It gives the kids a chance to come in and play golf here in Augusta and then go to the Masters on Monday morning," he said. "Some of the players that play in the Invitational will someday play in the Masters."

This year's invitational has 17 teams entered, including the four-time defending champion Augusta State Jaguars.

Having the course ready for the collegiate tournament makes it ready for Masters Week, too, Mr. Price said.

Local golf courses stay busy during the Masters Tournament as fans itching to emulate their golfing heroes hit the links.

Tee times at the River Golf Club in North Augusta have been booked since Thanksgiving.

The River Club uses a "double-shotgun" technique to expedite the flow of play from Monday to Sunday during Masters Week. There are only two tee times during the week - one at 8 a.m. and one at 1:30 p.m.

Head pro Chris Verdery said the club requires little in the way of special procedures to get ready.

"It's not a complicated week for us; it's just a busy week. The main thing we're looking for is to make people feel welcome," Mr. Verdery said.

Reach Lane Kramer at (706) 823-3221.