The most coveted golf title in Georgia will be returning to Idle Hour Club for a record eighth time July 10-13. The 96th Georgia Amateur Championship is coming to Macon and attracting not only the best players in the state but in the country.
The most famous name in golf, Bobby Jones, won the inaugural event in 1916 at age 14
I have had the privilege of watching the past two at Idle Hour and look forward to seeing all the talent in this contest.
There were 10 regional qualifiers throughout the state and as the host site, Idle Hour Club held one Monday. I am always slightly biased toward our course because I believe its one of the best ever designed, but the old girl continues to hold her own. Ninety-six players teed it up, and no one broke par out of this very talented field that included many college stars. Travis Steed from Macon and Anders Olsson from Georgia Southwestern were co-medalists at even-par 70.
A quick recap of what happened back in 2008. We had our hometown favorite, Russell Henley, in the field. Of course, like many others, I wanted Russell to win, but theres nothing harder than to perform in front of the hometown crowd. Defending champion Harris English, who was Henleys Georgia teammate, was back and determined to make it two in a row. It became a head-to-head contest between the two with Henley prevailing by one shot. He went on to defend at Columbus Country Club in 2009, shooting an incredible 16 under and winning by eight shots. Many of us knew we were watching two future PGA Tour stars, but Im not sure anyone knew it would be so fast. I am so proud of both, but Russell is always my choice to win in every event he enters. He is a Macon product 100 percent.
As I write this piece early Friday morning while watching the Golf Channel to look for the highlights on Henleys round, I think about what a short time ago he was a young junior player competing to reach goals that to many of us seemed so distant and maybe unattainable. The 2008 Georgia Amateur Championship was certainly a giant step along his path to stardom.
Even if you dont play golf, I hope you will come out and watch the highest level of amateur competition in Georgia on a 100-year-old course that is perfectly maintained by superintendent Wade Thomas, Nash Rolfes and staff. It is truly a wonderful competitive atmosphere on a true test of golf.
Ray Cutright is the director of golf operations at Idle Hour Club