By Chris Whitfield
Area sports fans are familiar with local golfer David Noll Jr. An eight-time winner of the Georgia State Golf Association’s Men’s Player of the Year award and winner of the last six straight, Noll has made quite a name for himself around the state and the southeast with his play as part of state teams.
No offense to Noll, but in state golf terms, he is merely the male version of Augusta’s Laura Coble.
Coble has been named the GSGA’s Women’s Player of the Year a staggering 14 times. She has won the Tommy Barnes Award signifying the state’s overall Player of the Year thrice. Noll has won it once. Inducted into the GSGA Hall of Fame this past winter in a class that included Dalton Golf & Country Club professional Lowell Fritz, Coble has won eight Women’s Match Play Championships and has reached the finals of the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur twice.
Coble will headline Monday’s U.S. Women’s Amateur qualifier at DG&CC with 88 other female golfers from around the world. Nine spots in the U.S. Women’s Amateur in Charleston, S.C., in August will be up for grabs at the Club, which has already hosted the GHSA Class 4A state championships. Natives of countries as far away as Argentina, Colombia and Thailand will take to the course.
Coble has had success in stroke play, but she has been most dominant in match play, winning eight Georgia Women’s Match Play Championships from 1999 to 2010 and capturing the match play and state amateur titles last year as well.
Former Auburn player Margaret Shirley, who was an assistant coach at Georgia and now serves the same role at Auburn, is also in the field. She spent the 2008-09 season playing professionally on the Florida Suncoast Series. She posted two wins and finished as the tour’s leading money winner for the season. Since that time, Shirley has re-gained her amateur status and continued her playing career. She has twice won the Georgia Women’s Open and recently won the Georgia Women’s Match Play Championship.
Another golfer who area fans of the sport should remember is Stanford University sophomore Mariah Stackhouse. One of the top female golfers to come out of the state of Georgia in the past 20 years, Stackhouse already has an impressive resume even though she graduated in 2012 from North Clayton High School in Riverdale. She was the medalist at GHSA state tournaments three times, including a win in the 2009 Class 4A state tournament at DG&CC. Stackhouse has drawn comparisons as the female version of Tiger Woods as a dominant junior African-American golfer, even following in his footsteps to play for the Cardinal. She played in the 2011 U.S. Women’s open and was on the Ping Junior Solheim Cup (the female version of the Ryder Cup).
Play begins Monday at 8 a.m. with a dual teeoff on No. 1 and No. 10.
• ADAMS UPDATE: Former Rocky Face resident and PGA professional Blake Adams has been missing from the leaderboard this season after winning more than $3.2 million during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. In January he underwent hip surgery and is slated to return to the tour in October with beginning of the 2013-14 season.
But he has been busy while being away from the game. He and swing coach John Tillery have opened the Blake Adams Golf Academy at Lane Creek Golf Club outside of Athens. A post on Adams’ blog (blakeadamsgolf.com) says that Adams started the school to give quality instruction to golfers of all ability levels at a more reasonable price.
“I definitely see a major void with golf instruction today,” Adams said in a recent interview with The Daily Citizen. “I was extremely spoiled to learn the game of golf under the watchful eye of my late father, Mike Adams, and the legend Lowell Fritz. Both of these men were extremely instrumental in my growth as a professional golfer. However, I find that many golfers leave a lesson with more confusion, little results and an empty wallet. John and I pride our model on PGA Tour quality instruction at an affordable price. My thoughts are simple... I am on the PGA Tour and I would never pay $250 for an hour golf lesson, so why should a 10 handicap?”
Adams took the time to respond to several questions posed by The Daily Citizen via email earlier this week, so look for a complete story detailing his new academy, his rehab from his surgery and his thoughts on his future on the tour in Saturday’s edition of the paper.
• ACES: Two Dalton golfers recently scored holes-in-one.
On June 22, Danny Bagget used a pitching wedge to ace the 125-yard No. 5 at Nob North. Witnesses were Clint Callahan and Randy Durham. It was Bagget’s fifth hole-in-one.
On Thursday, Jerry Mathis scored a hole-in-one on the 169-yard No. 3 at The Golf Club at Cuscowilla in Eatonton. Witnesses were Randy Patterson, Kyle Pettyjohn and Chris Tallent. It was Mathis’ second ace.
• JUNIOR CLINIC: Nob North Golf Course will host a junior clinic for boys and girls ages 7-17 from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Wednesday. The cost is $60. To learn more or register, call (706) 694-8505.
“Fairways and Greens” is a regular feature of The Daily Citizen focusing on local golf news and notes. If you have an item you would like included, contact sports writer Chris Whitfield at email@example.com.