May 19, 2013

Championship conditions

Courses ready to host top prep golfers

By Chris Whitfield
chriswhitfield@daltoncitizen.com

— Both Nob North Golf Course and Dalton Golf and Country Club have gone through a wet winter and have seen rain this weekend. But the head professionals at the courses know that their layouts are of championship caliber and should play that way on Monday.

Nob North will host the Georgia High School Association’s Class 4A girls state tournament while the Class 4A boys state tournament will is at DGCC.

“The course may be the best I have seen it,” Nob North head pro Eric Hester said. “It is beautiful out there. I think the girls will really like it, too.”

DGCC hosted the Roman Open — a double-shotgun, best-ball event that featured 248 golfers — this past Monday, but head pro Russ Allstun said the course is in excellent condition.

“I think the course will be really good,” he said. “We got a little rain, but unless it just pours (today) it should play pretty normally. There might be a few holes that play a little longer, but we have the course set up a little easier than we regularly would for a tournament since this is a high school event.”

Both courses will host 16 teams of four to six golfers as well as eight individuals who qualified for the state tournament. Northwest Whitfield is serving as the host school for both tournaments, and Bruins golf coach Jim McGrew is the coordinator of both tournaments.

“I won’t say that I won’t sigh a big sigh of relief when this is all over,” McGrew said. “But there have been so many people in the community who have helped make it all come together and make it an enjoyable experience. We feel like we do a little bit more for the players and get to showcase two great golf courses to some of the best young golfers in the state.”

Players will get complimentary gift bags from local sponsors, and all of the participants in town are invited to a banquet tonight at DGCC.

The events will also have an economic impact on the community. McGrew said a study by the Columbus Convention and Visitor’s Bureau said that when that city hosted the championship tournament, more than $250,000 in local revenue was generated through money spent on lodging, meals and other miscellaneous expenses.

“We really work hard to make this a great experience for the golfers and the coaches,” McGrew said.

Locally, both the boys and girls teams for Dalton and Northwest will play, while the Southeast Whitfield girls will play as well. Through a rule change this year, teams could finish in the top four at region and qualify for state sectionals with a chance to advance to the state tournament. In the past, only the top two teams from each of the eight regions were able to play at state. Northwest’s boys and Southeast’s girls both finished third in Region 7-4A.

Per GHSA regulations, Nob North will play around 5,500 yards, while DGCC will play at 6,500.

At the Region 7-4A boys tournament at DGCC earlier this month, Dalton won with a team score of 315 from its four golfers with the lowest rounds. Dalton’s total edged runner-up Heritage-Catoosa by a stroke. Allstun expects teams at the top of the leaderboard Monday to go lower than that, but not substantially lower.

“The pins placements will be fair, and it will be set up similarly to the region tournament,” Allstun said. “There will be a couple of birdie holes that you will be rewarded for with the right shots, and there will be some tough shots out there as well. I don’t think that any of the teams will beat 300.

“Coming in, 18 is a great finishing hole. If that is where it comes down for the state championship, then they are going to have to think about where they want to land the ball.”

Hester said Nob North will use a standard 6-6-6 pin placement with six easy pin positions, six medium and six difficult.

“You have to place it on our greens and have a good putt at the hole, and if they can do that they will be OK,” Hester said. “Someone who goes long off the tee will have an advantage if it is a little wet, but the key will be approach shots into the green. The greens will be pretty quick, but we didn’t do anything to set it up hard. We picked what we thought were the best positions.”