Its almost time to ring the bell. The Georgia Amateur Championship starts Thursday for a record eighth time at Idle Hour Club.
All the best amateur players our state has to offer will be present. There are many names we all know but lots of new ones who we dont. I can truthfully say, like watching PGA Tour events on television, I need a program to tell the players.
Watts Gunn became the first to win the Georgia Amateur at Idle Hour in 1923. He went on to win again in 1927 at Savannah Golf Club.
Jennings Gordon from Rome was the second at Idle Hour in 1940. He narrowly defeated 18-year-old Arnold Blum in the finals. Blum recovered quite nicely, however, winning in 1946, along with three straight at Athens Country Club in 1950, Druid Hills in 1951 and Augusta Country Club in 1952. Winning three in a row still stands as the tournament record.
Well-known Harvie Ward defeated Blum at Idle Hour in 1953. Blum recovered again to win his fifth and final championship in 1956 at East Lake, the site of the inaugural tournament in 1916 won by Bobby Jones.
My good friend and outstanding PGA golf professional at Savannah Golf Club Tobby Browne defeated U.S Amateur and British Amateur champion Steve Melnyk when he birdied the first playoff hole to win at Idle Hour in 1968.
We all watched a young man from Savannah, Tim ONeal, play flawless golf for three rounds and barely finish ahead of Georgia Techs Carlton Forrester in a contest that went to the final hole at Idle Hour in 1997.
Russell Henley accomplished one of the hardest exercises in sport at Idle Hour in 2008. Playing before the home crowd, he outlasted Harris English in a duel that was fun to watch, especially since our man won.
So heres the local roster for this championship. Conner Albright, Chuck Bass, Sandy Burgess, Stan Gann Jr., Shawn Hodge, Taylor Jernigan, Travis Steed and John Walker IV. We all know some of the other players but theres nothing like a hometown player winning it all. I know them all, and they are quite capable of putting four dream rounds together.
The golf course is perfect, the television cameras will be ready, the field is set, and history will be made right here in Macon.
Everyone is invited, and we look forward to seeing you watching championship golf at its highest amateur level.
Ray Cutright is the director of golf operations at Idle Hour Club