July 11, 2013

Playing it smart: Georgia Amateur course sets up for thinkers


A four-day event is what all of the participants are hoping for. Making the cut and playing on the weekend is a common goal among the local group.

“It is the best field in the state,” Snipes said. “This course is one of those where if you shot even par over two days, you are probably in the top five. I would be surprised to see someone win this tournament with an under-par score.”

Snipes and Hipp both shot 75 at the course in qualifying, finishing three strokes off the medalist of the event.

“This is my first state amateur, and my personal goals are much higher than what I would tell anyone,” Hipp said. “I would love to make the cut. I have high expectations of myself.”

Hipp has been taking advantage of Noll’s knowledge of the course and his track record of success in GSGA events.

In addition to his success in the Georgia Amateur Championship, Noll won titles at the GSGA’s Atlanta Amateur Match Play Championship in 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2012, and won the organization’s Georgia Mid-Amateur Championship in 2007 and 2012. He has been named the GSGA’s Men’s Player of the Year eight times, including each of the past six years. In 2008, he was presented the GSGA’s Tommy Barnes Award, given each year to the state’s overall top golfer.

Hipp and Noll have played at the course on several occasions this summer, but Hipp wouldn’t say who won their rounds.

“That is confidential,” Hipp said. “He is probably the best amateur golfer in Georgia and I love playing with David. He is like my golfing idol. I learn so much more when I play with people like him. I love it. I try to learn something new every time I go out there.”

Hayes, a Northwest Whitfield High School junior, qualified with a 74 at Nob North early in June. His first time playing Pinetree was on Tuesday.

“I will be kind of blind going into it, but I love the course,” Hayes said. “It is long and some holes are tight, and the greens are great. I liked that there were some long par-4s. I hope that my length off the tee will help.”

Seven of the 11 par-4s on the course will play 425 yards or longer, including the beastly 505-yard, par-4 16th hole. The course will play at 7,108 yards and is a par 71.

“This is a course where you have to know where to hit it on the greens,” Snipes said. “My length is pretty good, so I will be hitting wedges and nine-irons. That will give me an edge when you are trying to stick your spots.”

Hayes agreed.

“There are a lot more position holes than attack holes,” he said. “You have to be patient. You will make some birdies, but you have to position yourself well throughout the course.”

And no one knows that better than Noll.

“This is a thinking man’s golf course,” he said. “You have to pick your poison as to when to be aggressive.”

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