Sports Columns

April 29, 2014

Fairways and Greens: Fordham’s story on CBS Saturday

A year ago, CBS Sports aired a PGA of America special entitled “Beyond the Green,” which showcased the impact of golf on the lives of individuals across the country.

Among those featured were former Northwest Whitfield High School golfer Turner Fordham and her story of how the sport has helped in her battle with leukemia. The program airs again at 2 p.m. Saturday — it will lead into the network’s coverage of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. — and will include an update on Fordham.

A 2012 graduate of Northwest, Fordham recently completed more than a year of chemotherapy treatments at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga after her leukemia returned after being in remission for five years. She is also completing her junior year as a business marketing major at the University of Georgia.

The past year has been a struggle with the demands of treatment and school while also trying to lead a life outside of those two areas, but Fordham said things have gone well.

“I am still trying to rebuild some strength and endurance and trying to get back to a somewhat normal life,” Fordham said. “It has been a very big challenge, probably more than I expected it to be. I have always wanted to be very involved and active, and I might have overdone it a lot this time around.”

In addition to leaving school once a month to undergo treatments in Chattanooga, she has had to have blood drawn weekly in Athens to monitor her progress; she also takes chemo pills orally. Even though it isn’t something she would have ever imagined she would have to go through again, she said having the previous experience gave her a better understanding of things the second time around.

She originally underwent treatments while at Westside Middle School.

“I think mentally and emotionally I was better prepared to be more optimistic,” she said. “The physical part, there really is not much you can do. It is just draining, but mentally and emotionally I was able to be in the better frame of mind. I was so much younger back then when I went through it the first time and had no idea what to expect. It made it a lot easier and I knew a few tricks that I could do.”

Fordham also said she received positive reactions from friends, acquaintances and even people she had never met after the first airing of the documentary.

“A lot of the feedback was just people telling me how proud they were of me and how inspried they were,” she said. “Some people told be they appreciated me for being willing to share my story. I got reactions from people I didn’t know before contacting me through Facebook and stuff who said the same things, and that was very touching.”

BUILDING IT UP: While there has been lots of work done at Chatsworth’s Indian Trace Golf Course since Sam Houston was brought in as the course superintendent last fall, one of the most visible changes is well underway with completion expected over the next month.

One of the design plans that Houston and professional Tracy Spurlock said they wanted to implement earlier this year was building new tee boxes across the course to give more tee placement variety and to have players be able to play more to their handicap rather than playing from the traditional blue, white and red tees.

New tee boxes are being built on Nos. 5, 6, 8, 9, 12 and 18, and Spurlock said the plan is to have five unique teeing areas on each hole. He said the course has a very competitive industrial league that plays from March to October, and those players were the inspiration for the redesign.

“We wanted to let everyone have fun, and when we play a handicap tournament or with team competition, we want to put people at their skill level,” Spurlock said. “Basically, the guys that are a 20-30 handicap, they can play at a different tee which is more to their skill level and they can help out their teams and really compete. It gives them a system that helps our players and make things a lot more fun.”

The size of some of the tee boxes can also affect how the course plays on a day-to-day basis — and depending on how devious Spurlock wants to be, the challenges can be daunting.

“There are a couple of holes where we don’t have the blues all the way back, and when you add another set of tees, you can really lengthen some holes and really shorten some holes,” Spurlock said. “This course is kind of a placement course anyway. You can’t just bust a drive and get away with it. You can, but you better be accurate.”

One example of that is the par-3 second hole. Listed on the scorecard at 115 yards, the blue tee box is at the bottom of a hill and plays to an elevated green. The tee box also had a lot of depth.

“The tee box is about 40 yards long, and that is a booger because it is all uphill,” Spurlock said. “On No. 16 (another par-3) from the back tees is 185 or 190, and your targets are so small on the par 3s.”

STATE SECTIONALS: The Georgia High School Association announced the teams who will play in next week’s state golf sectionals on Monday, and two area teams will see their season continue after being in limbo for the past week.

While the Dalton girls were the only team to claim a region championship and earn an automatic slot in the Class 4A state tournament on May 12, Dalton’s boys, North Murray’s girls and Murray County’s girls all earned spots in their respective state sectional tournaments based on their performance in their region tournaments. Teams had to be in the top four in their region and shoot a qualifying score — which varies by classification — in order to advance to a sectional tournament.

In addition, though, the GHSA was able to pick other teams to go to sectionals based on the number of teams who met the qualifying score.

Coahulla Creek’s boys are among those who were selected for a spot despite missing the target score during the Region 5-3A tournament. The Colts finished third in the region behind champion Cartersville and runner-up Gordon Central. None of the three teams hit the Class 3A qualifying mark of 350, but all three advance to sectionals.

Northwest’s boys were in a different position. While they met the Class 4A sectional qualifying score, their fifth-place finish in Region 7-4A left them out of the teams up for consideration to advance.

Sectional tournamets will be played Monday at sites across the state. Murray County’s girls travel to Waycross to play The Lakes at Laura Walker State Park in Class 2A, Coahulla Creek’s boys will play at Sunset Country Club in Moultrie in Class 3A, the North Murray girls will play at Springhill Country Club in Tifton in Class 2A and Dalton’s boys will play the West Course at Bull Creek Golf Course in Columbus in Class 4A.

There will be 16 teams at the sectional tournaments. In Class 2A girls, the top 10 teams advance to state, the top eight teams in Class 3A girls advance, the top 10 teams in Class 3A boys advance and the top nine teams advance in Class 4A boys.

Fairways and Greens is a regular feature of The Daily Citizen by sports writer Chris Whitfield. Send your golfing news and notes to chriswhitfield@ daltoncitizen.com.

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