July 2, 2012

What's Going On?: Local courses grade well

— Midway through my freshman year of high school, all of my buddies were getting heavily into a sport to which I’d had only minimal exposure. Growing up on the Georgia coast just south of Savannah, I had played the three sports offered by most recreation departments during the late 1970s and early ‘80s — baseball, football and basketball — and that was pretty much it.

But thanks to my uncle, I had always been a little interested in the sport my friends were taking to — golf. Uncle Lito (you can’t make that name up) had taken me to play for the first time when I was 9 or 10 on one of his visits from California, and I loved it even though I couldn’t really adapt my baseball swing. I remember hitting what would have been a lot of foul balls on a diamond, slicing some of his beat-up Titleists into the woods at a Brunswick golf course.

However, as any golfer can tell you, all it takes is one shot to hook you like no drug could. When you hit that first perfect shot — that first drive that takes off like a plane, climbs high like a rocket and bounces softly in the middle of the fairway, or an iron shot that goes exactly where you want it to and nestles safe and warm next to the flagstick on the green — you become a golfing addict.

My 14th birthday was the one where I begged my dad for my first set of clubs, a flat-backed set of Spalding irons with three real woods from K-Mart. I have been a serious addict ever since, with no 12-step program ever sought after.

In this area, we are fortunate to have several golfing options, with a great range of public courses as well as some top-flight private clubs. I have been fortunate to have played most of the courses in the area and have rarely been disappointed.

Here in Whitfield County, The Farm and Dalton Golf and Country Club are top-notch private facilities I’ve played during corporate scrambles and benefit tournaments, and for the upper-income golfer they offer the complete golf/country club experience with some of the best staffs I have run into across the state.

And for the more average and lower-income golfer like myself, Nob North in Cohutta, The Pasture in Tunnel Hill and Chatsworth’s Spring Lakes and Indian Trace offer challenging courses that are great values for the money. Up the road a little to the north and across the border into Tennessee, Cleveland’s Waterville course will soon be reopening its back nine as construction on the Dalton Pike wraps up.

You can contact your local courses and chase some Balatas with friends or take some jing from your boss in a little friendly best-ball wager at: Nob North, 298 Nob North Drive, Cohutta, nobnorth.com, (706) 694-8505; Indian Trace, 730 Mitchell Bridge Road, Chatsworth, indiantracegolf.com, (706) 695-7353; Spring Lakes, 1571 Spring Place-Smyrna Road, Chatsworth, (706) 695-9300; or The Pasture, 3449 Chattanooga Road, Tunnel Hill, (706) 673-4131.

While recent heat may have kept a lot of people off the links, it is still a good idea to think about that next wave of little golfers you may have at the house, and two upcoming junior golf camps could help start the next generation.

Nob North will host a junior clinic for boys and girls from ages 7 to 17 on July 16 to 18 for $60. Also, North Murray golf coach Keith Robinette will have a four-day kids camp with two days at Indian Trace and two days at Spring Lakes from July 16 to 19. The cost is $50 per golfer with discounts for multiple siblings.

These camps along with other summer opportunities for your out-of-school, “I’m-bored” youngster can be found in our Local Sports Calendar at daltonnow.com/events.

• Area soccer fans get a real treat this week, and casual soccer fans get to see what all of the excitement of true passionate futbol fans is all about when a pair of Mexican pro soccer teams face off on Saturday in Chattanooga.

Club America will play Pachuca FC at 8 p.m. in Finley Stadium. Tickets cost $35 to $45 and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster locations and on ticketmaster.com.

• Baseball on the field and rockets red glare in the sky a day early — you can maximize your Independence Day celebrations with a trip to see the Rome Braves or Chattanooga Lookouts on Tuesday, when both minor league clubs will have postgame fireworks as a result of being out of town on July 4.

But it might not be wise to show up to the gate expecting to be able to purchase a ticket for those popular dates, so be sure to check out romebraves.com or chattanoogalookouts.com before making the drive.

• Our day-by-day introduction of the 32-team field for The Daily Citizen’s second annual Southeastern 7-on-7 Championship is nearing the end of its run. But keep your eyes on upcoming editions of the paper for more on the July 14 and 15 tournament, as well as information on the free lineman camp and skill combine that will be part of the big weekend planned for the event.

You can also visit southeastern7on7.com to learn more.

Chris Whitfield is a sports writer for The Daily Citizen. Got something you think he should highlight in “What’s Going On?” Write to him at chriswhitfield@daltoncitizen.com.