Sports

July 11, 2013

Playing it smart: Georgia Amateur course sets up for thinkers

One of the beliefs shared by area golfers who will be playing in the Georgia Amateur Championship is that Pinetree Country Club in Kennesaw is a “thinking man’s course.”

The winner, they say, will not be the golfer who hits it the farthest or putts the best.

At this year’s state amateur, you’ll likely need brains as much as you need your clubs.

“It is a course you have to keep it in play and know where to miss it,” said Tucker Snipes of Rocky Face, one of six golfers who reside in Whitfield and Murray counties in the 144-player field. “There are a lot of shots on this course where if you miss it, then your round could go down quickly. You have to think your way around this course. It is a challenge, but it will be a lot of fun.”

This year’s edition of the 72-hole Georgia State Golf Association (GSGA) tournament, which began in 1916, starts today and concludes on Sunday. The field will be cut to the low 70 golfers and ties after 36 holes.

Expected to be a leading contender is Dalton’s David Noll Jr. Noll is returning to the course where he first won the Georgia Amateur title in 2003. Snipes and Noll, who also won this tournament in 2011, will be joined by local players Roger Smith of Dalton, Ethan Hayes of Rocky Face and Tyler Mitchell and Colby Hipp, both of Chatsworth.

According to the GSGA, entries were open to male amateur golfers who belong to a GSGA member club and are Georgia residents. Almost 600 players took part in the qualifying process for this year’s championship. Twenty-eight players made the field through exemptions, including Noll, who has several exemptions, including a 10-year exemption for winning the Georgia Amateur Championship.

The remaining 116 spots were filled by non-exempt players who competed in one of 10 18-hole qualifiers last month.

Last year, Lee Knox of Augusta finished at 6-under-par 282 to finish a stroke ahead of Noll for the title at Ansley Golf Club-Settindown Creek in Roswell. It was the second win in the championship for Knox, and it was Noll’s eighth straight year of finishing sixth or better in the tournament, including three runner-up finishes.

Snipes, a senior at Chattanooga’s McCallie School, and Hipp, a North Murray High School graduate who is headed to play college golf at Emory, both qualified for the Georgia Amateur on the host course. Both said having already had success on the course in the past is a big confidence booster.

“There were several local qualifiers, but I wanted to qualify on the site of the actual tournament,” Hipp said. “It is a very fair golf course. It will be difficult, but the greens are perfect. If it is wet, it will play quite a bit longer because there is a lot of roll out on those fairways. I hope it is a four-day event for me.”

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