Sports Columns

July 14, 2014

A Look Ahead: State golf coming to Nob North

My history as a golfer can be summed up with some well-known words from 17th century philosopher Thomas Hobbes — “nasty, brutish and short.”

About the time my high school friends and I acquired driver’s licenses and cars, quite a few of them also picked up golf clubs and a sudden interest in spending their Saturday morning chasing a little white ball. Peer pressure worked in this case. Pretty soon I had my own clubs (a $50 second-hand set), a cheap bag and a few blisters from the practice range.

Finally, it was time to actually play. Our group of six broke into a more experienced foursome that left me in a twosome trailing behind. And I took the trailing behind thing to heart.

Halfway through the round we’d been scolded by the course marshal for failing to replace divots (nobody told us), my stock of reserve golf balls was thinning and I’d lost count of my strokes while trying to cross a pond. (I guess my inner Phil Mickelson — even if I’d never heard of him at the time — wouldn’t let me lay up.)

With our friends out of sight, my playing partner and I took a rain check for the final nine holes. I don’t know about him, but I never went back to finish the round, and that’s where golf and I parted ways. I enjoy watching the Masters and have met a lot of nice golfers while covering tournaments over the years, but the game and I made a mutual decision that it would be best if I stayed on the cart path or in the gallery.

I never could get used to that interlocking grip anyway.

There are many in the Dalton area who have kept up the good fight, though — some are even winning — when it comes to the links, and hopefully they know just how lucky they are in terms of quality options when it comes to golf courses in northwest Georgia.

This is normally where The Daily Citizen’s resident golf nut, sports writer Chris Whitfield, would step in to catch you up. But as I write this, he’s in the land of shrimp and sand gnats — and he very well could be teeing it up on a coastal course — so you’re unfortunately left with a sports editor who sticks to the kind of golf where you have to avoid windmill blades and line your putt up with the clown’s mouth.

With the Georgia Amateur Championship behind us, the golf focus this week turns to another Peach State competition as the Georgia Recreation and Park Association (GRPA) visits Nob North Golf Course in Varnell for its state tournament.

The Dalton Parks and Recreation Department will host Tuesday’s competition, which will have divisions for several age groups — 7-8, 11-and-younger, 13-and-younger, 15-and-younger, 18-and-younger and 19-and-older. All age divisions but the two youngest will play 18 holes; those two will play nine.

The tournament tees off at 9 a.m., and while the registration deadline has passed, those not in the field still have the chance to go out and support the area golfers making a bid to finish as the state’s best.

And it’s just the latest big event for a local golf course. Nob North will have the chance to keep our area prominently on the state’s golf map again later this summer when the Georgia State Golf Association’s Public Links Championship is played there on Sept. 13-14.

• Not too far from our area, the Atlanta Athletic Club’s Highlands Course in Johns Creek will host the United States Golf Association’s U.S. Amateur Championship on Aug. 11-17.

Dalton’s David Noll Jr. is among those who will try to qualify for the tournament Tuesday and Wednesday at Piedmont Driving Club in Atlanta, and two other former Dalton High School golfers — Chase Miller and Will Morrow — will have the same objective July 22 in Louisville, Ky.

Keep an eye on future editions of The Daily Citizen for information on how things go for that trio. If you’re planning to take part in a qualifying tournament (or know someone who will) please send a note to chriswhitfield@daltoncitizen.com, along with any other golf notes of local interest.

• I’m not sure exactly when this happened, but sometime in the past 30 years, the calendar shifted to the point that July 4 became the last day students could safely avoid back-to-school reminders and advertisements.

Well, I hate to add to your anguish, kiddies, but that first day of school for 2014-15 is closer than you think.

The good news, sports fans, is so are “fall” athletics. Official practices for Georgia High School Association cheerleading, cross country, football, softball and volleyball teams can begin on Aug. 1, and regular-season contests for those sports start soon after. (Football teams, in fact, can begin conditioning on July 25.)

I mention this because just as those teams must prepare for the season, so must we in the sports department here at The Daily Citizen. Middle school and high school coaches in Murray and Whitfield counties, we’re looking for your schedules and rosters for fall sports. Although it may seem early, we’re eager to get ahead and appreciate your help in sending that information to sports@daltoncitizen.com.

You’ll receive a reply within 24 hours after your schedule and/or roster is received. If you don’t, please call us at (706) 272-7732, 272-7734 or 272-7742.

Marty Kirkland is sports editor of The Daily Citizen. He doesn’t have to worry about having his good walk spoiled when he’s covering tournaments at The Farm. Do you have something you think he should highlight in “A Look Ahead”? Write to him at martykirkland@daltoncitizen.com

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