Originally created 07/15/06

Players might get a break at Bartram Trail



The timing couldn't be better for Bartram Trail Golf Club to make its Regions Cup debut.

The Grovetown public course, which is playing host to the Gordon Uhl/Golf Capital Invitational this weekend, will provide golfers a welcome respite after last week's gruelling Goshen Golf Classic.

At Goshen, only three players in the regular division broke par in a round during the 36-hole event, and Jamie Felder's winning total was 2-over-par 146 at the 7,300-yard Goshen Plantation Golf Club course.

Bartram Trail, which opened to the public Sept. 1, will play to its maximum 6,706 yards (the black tees) for the regular division. That shorter yardage, plus the five par-5s on the par-72 course, should result in more under-par scores this week than last week.

"It wouldn't surprise me if it was the lowest winning score of any of the tournaments," said Bartram Trail head pro Robby Watson.

Through five events of the nine-tournament series, the lowest winning score is Eric Ledford's 5-under-par 139 at the W.M. Gregory Classic at North Augusta Country Club.

Watson thinks the winning score at his course will be "somewhere between 6- and 7-under par."

Those are the exact numbers picked by North Augusta's Lance Johnson, who should know.

The 17-year-old holds the Bartram Trail course record from the 6,226-yard blue tees. He shot 11-under 61 on May 28 and is in the field this weekend.

"It's really perfect for scoring," Johnson said.

At Bartram Trail, "the fairways are pretty firm and you can hit some long drives, and the greens are soft and you can spin your iron shots," Johnson said. "The greens are smooth and you can make a lot of putts."

Bartram Trail is the only course on the Regions Cup schedule with bentgrass greens.

"I love them," Johnson said. "They roll a lot more true (than Bermuda-grass greens) and they have good speed."

Felder, who will be going for his third Regions Cup victory in as many starts this year, is a Bartram Trail member, so he is familiar with the bentgrass greens.

"You have to change gears a little bit (from Bermuda-grass greens) because the ball is going to stick a little more (on approach shots) and the greens are not going to have quite as much grain," Felder said.

The key to scoring at Bartram Trail is finding the fairway off the tee.

"You can't hit driver on every hole like you can at Goshen, but you can still hit driver quite a bit if you hit it straight," Felder said.

"The biggest secret," Watson said, "is making sure you keep the ball in play. If you do that, you'll have a lot of short irons into the greens."

Though Watson said the rough "is up pretty good right now," he said the biggest problems with missing fairways are obstructions from trees and hazards.

The Gordon Uhl/Golf Capital Invitational was supposed to be played at Forest Hills Golf Club, but it was moved to Bartram Trail for this year only.

Watson said Bartram Trail plans to introduce its own Regions Cup tournament in 2007.

Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851 or david.westin@augustachronicle.com.