Idle Hour Club set for another big week

dshirley@macon.comJuly 9, 2014 

ga_am_golf

Gene McClure, left, who will be inducted into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame this year, talks golf before the President’s Luncheon Wednesday with Arnold Blum of Macon. Blum, 90, of Macon, was a five-time winner of the Georgia Amateur Championship and played in the Masters five times.

BEAU CABELL — bcabell@macon.com Buy Photo

Every time a course gets the chance to host the Georgia Amateur Championship, it’s a big event. That has happened seven times for Idle Hour Club, and each time it was something to remember.

But 2008 was special.

Idle Hour will host the tournament for a record eighth time starting Thursday, and it will have a hard time topping what happened six years ago. It was the perfect storm to create a golfing event that fans in the area will a have hard time forgetting.

That year, Harris English was looking for his second straight win in the tournament. But standing in his way was his Georgia teammate -- and roommate -- Russell Henley, a former Stratford standout and Idle Hour member.

The two pulled away from the field and set up a memorable final round at Idle Hour. The course was lined with fans for Henley and English fans, and many Georgia fans, and they weren’t disappointed.

Henley fired a 1-under-par 69 in the final round to win the tournament by one shot over English with a total of 270. That score broke the tournament scoring record, which was held by former Masters champion Tommy Aaron and Allen Doyle, who went on to success on the Champions Tour.

That record score lasted just one year as Henley blitzed the field and the Country Club of Columbus the next year for a second straight title.

Henley and English both had terrific careers at Georgia, and both have won on the PGA Tour. And they set a high standard for this year’s field to try to match. But that’s what 144 players will try to do the next four days at Idle Hour, a terrific old course that certainly deserves the honor of hosting this tournament.

Idle Hour’s first time hosting came in 1923 with Watts Gunn winning. That was followed by 1940 (Jennings Gordon), 1953 (E. Harvie Ward), 1968 (Toby Browne), 1978 (Doyle) and 1997 (Tim O’Neal).

On Sunday, someone will add his name to that list, and even if it can’t match 2008, it will be a special day for that player and the course.

Contact Daniel Shirley at dshirley@macon.com

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