Sports

June 5, 2013

Chris Whitfield: A coach-player showdown on golf course

If Sunday’s final round of the North Georgia Invitational at Dalton Golf & Country Club provided an example of the relationship between a player and a coach, then perhaps Dalton State College golf coach Ben Rickett earned a big measure of respect from his star signee.

Chase Jones, a former Murray County golfer who was the first player to sign to play golf for the Roadrunners as the school restarts its athletic program this fall, found himself tied for the Championship Flight lead with Rickett after 36 holes at the tournament Sunday afternoon. Jones shot a 72 on the first day of the tournament and fired a 4-under-par 68 on Sunday. Rickett shot back-to-back 70s as both golfers finished 4-under 140 for the two rounds.

Now, it was coach versus player for all of the marbles in the flight.

“A lot of my better coaching moments are when you grab a pair of guys and just go out and play nine,” Rickett said. “You talk about everything on the golf course. But for us on Sunday, it was shake hands and best of luck. That is where your competitiveness kicks in.”

Jones was feeling it too when the duo went to the first hole for the playoff to begin.

“It was pretty cool,” Jones said. “It is really good for the program. Something like that can get a lot of people excited about starting this thing up.

“He is a real humble guy, so we flipped the tee and shook hands and it was on from there. It was pretty quiet. You couldn’t have made a better ending than a playoff hole between a coach and a player.”

Well, Rickett said you could have scripted the ending a little better.

Rickett won the playoff with a par on the hole, when Jones settled for a bogey.

“It would have looked better if I had won with a birdie,” Rickett said with a laugh. “Either way, we got beat by a 54-year-old guy.”

While Rickett won the flight, the overall tournament champion was Suwanee’s Donny Phillips, who won with a 138.

CLAY DYKES TEES OFF: Mike Rice and Jerry Hudgins will lead 120 of the top senior amateur golfers from coast to coast in taking part in the 13th annual Clay Dykes Invitational at The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face.

Rice and Hudgins have won the tournament the last three years and captured their fourth title overall last year after winning the championship in 2008 as well. Rice also captured the title in 2002 playing with Columbus’ Bill Ploeger. He has always had success at The Farm, capturing the 2005 USGA Senior Amateur there in 2005.

The two-man best ball, 54-hole event for golfers 55 and older begins this morning and is in honor of Dykes, a friend of tournament founder Bob Shaw and a charter member of The Farm who died in 1997.

ALL-STATE GOLFERS: A pair of North Murray golfers have earned statewide accolades from the Georgia High School Golf Coaches Association by being named to the group’s Class 3A All-State Team.

Seniors Jocelyn Blair and Colby Hipp, who will both be playing golf in college, were named to the team, which was announced on Monday. Blair, who signed with Reinhardt College, was second overall at the state tournament with a 78 and also was the medalist at the Region 5-3A tournament. She was on the all-tournament teams at the Field’s Ferry and Nob North invitationals and was the medalist at West Hall.

A signee of Emory Univers-ity, Hipp finished fourth overall at the state tournament with a 1-over-par 73. He was the medalist at Nob North with a 71 and was also on the Region 5-3A all-tournament team.

Both were also members of the Georgia High School Association All-State teams after finishing in the top six at the state tournament.

BOYS & GIRLS TOURNEY: The Boys & Girls Clubs will host the inaugural Murray County Golf Classic on Saturday at Spring Lakes Golf Club in Chatsworth. The entry fee for a four-person team is $225, or $350 with a hole sponsorship package. To learn more, contact Jason Finnell at (706) 529-5032 or visit bgcgmw.org

“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 chriswhitfield@daltoncitizen.com.

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