E.A. Sports Today

Looking through different eyes

[corner-ad id=2]SKCC chairman Harris brings goals of giving players best value, experience possible, raising large sum for charities

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

This year’s chairman of the Sunny King Charity Classic has never played in the tournament before. In fact, Braxton Harris probably plays less golf in a year than most of the players in the tournament will play this week, and when he does the “fore” iron may be the best club in his bag.

But he knows the tournament; it has been part of his family for years. He knows what’s important to the event and understands what the players like, and he’s flying all the hazards in an attempt to provide them the best experience possible.

“I grew up playing golf, but I never had the time to put into it to become a good golfer,” he said. “I have the understanding, just not the ability. You don’t want to be out there with me playing golf, especially not in front of me.

“In the past three months I probably played more than in the past four years. I love it; it just comes down to having the time. I’m a dad and a business owner and it’s hard to break away for a half a day. I’m trying to make a conscious effort.”

If he ever did play in the Classic he readily admits he’d be relying on the abilities of his partners. It’s a lot like the way he approaches his chairmanship.

The tournament is such a well-oiled machine it basically runs itself. Harris isn’t about to tempt success. It’s his style to allow each member of his team to do what he does best.

“Being a business owner you quickly learn your success is not just you, it’s who you align yourself with,” he said. “I’ve got a team in GABPA and together we have a synergistic effect. Not one of us could pull this off without everyone else.”

Harris, 40, used to be one of those important players behind the scenes. He has been part of the tournament infrastructure since 2006, chairing the manpower committee. Last year was his turn at the top, basically a chairman-in-training under the tutelage of Jimmy Flowers.

“We all find our own little area of expertise and learn that and kind of fill in on the spot,” Harris said. “To take the reins and go with it, that takes a major learning curve. When you have one person who has been doing it for several years, they take all the stress off you.

“When he told me he was going to be moving away … he promised to co-chair with me so I could learn the bird’s eye view of the tournament. He wasn’t going to throw me to the wolves and let me go at it alone. I learned a lot.”

Since he hasn’t come from the golf side, Harris relied upon the insights of the golfers on the committee. He leaned heavily of Flowers and tee-time chairman Keith Howell for the golf side, while he focused on the sponsorship and entertainment side of the event.

Now, as the full-time chairman, the tournament will carry his stamp. Coming from the entertainment side, his platform is to create more value for the players and sponsors while maintaining the tradition of providing the largest total contribution possible to the charities the Classic benefits.

Among his initiatives new to the tournament are a beer-tasting pavilion touting five area brewers at the Saturday night social, dual-tee starts at Silver Lakes and Cider Ridge to help pace of play, separate long and accurate drive contests into a lighted 17th fairway at ACC on Saturday and a variety of tee-gift packages for the players.

“I’m looking for opportunities to increase the value,” Harris said. “When the team looks at $650 (entry fee), the question is what am I going to get out of this? We try to give them a value and back off a little bit to recoup that experience.

“My ultimate goal is on Sunday when we hand out the awards I want to maximize the net. That’s my driving force — to give the biggest possible number we can to the 35 organizations (the Classic benefits).

“This is one of my few things I do, GABPA, and it makes me feel I’m giving back to the community. On Sunday evening I can go home after the Sunny King and feel good about it. It’s a lot of work, but I think it’s a lot of reward, too, knowing I’m helping give $100,000-plus back to the non-profit organizations in our community.”

SUNNY KING CHARITY CLASSIC HISTORY

SAM BYRD INVITATIONAL

1979 Lewis Roberts-Dennis Braden 59 (-11) Card playoff.
1980 Ken Nunnally-Clayton Dobbins 58 (-12) Margin N/A
1981 John Norton-Buddy Canup 58-59–117 (-23) Playoff, 1st hole.
1982 John Stewart-Graham Stewart 66-65–131 (-9) Won by 1.
1983 Jerry Richardson-Bill Hayes 56-57–113 (-29) Won by 2.
1984 Brett Rothwell-Jim Flynn 60-58–118 (-24) Playoff, 1st hole.
1985 Donnie McClellan-David Messer 58-58–116 (-26) Won by 3.
1986 Lewis Roberts-Rex Curvin 59-58–117 (-25) Won by 2.

SUNNY KING CLASSIC
1987
Jimmy Singleton-Charles Singleton 55-59-59–173 (-41) Won by 5.
1988 Jeff Burns-Wilton Page 61-59-61–181 (-33) Scorecard playoff.
1989-x Chip Howell-Ray Chapman 61-63-67–191 (-23) Won by 6.
1990 Donnie McClellan-Bill Haas 59-66-67–192 (-24) Won by 1.
1991 Jeff Ingram-Greg Thomas 62-64-62–188 (-26) Won by 4.
1992 Pat Hughes-Tim Hughes 64-65-65–194 (-20) Won by 1.
1993 Eddie Jackson-Wayne Garrett 65-58-65–188 (-26) Won by 3.
1994 Eric Hamilton-Patrick Cushman 63-56-66–185 (-25) Won by 2.
1995 Eric Hamilton-Patrick Cushman 59-55-63–177 (-26) Won by 1.
1996 Eric Hamilton-Patrick Cushman 55-61-64–180 (-25) Won by 9.
1997 Randy Reaves-Jeff Russell 66-63-66–195 (-19) Playoff, 2nd hole.
1998 Eric Hamilton-Patrick Cushman 66-53-66–185 (-20) Playoff, 1st hole.
1999 Eric Hamilton-Patrick Cushman 54-63-63–185 (-25) Won by 6.
2000 Randy Reaves-Gary Wigington 62-57-61–180 (-34) Won by 8.
2001 Randy Reaves-Gary Wigington 59-64-62–185 (-29) Won by 3.
2002 Randy Reaves-Gary Wigington 58-56-65–179 (-35) Won by 4.
2003 Jeremy McGatha-Jaylon Ellison 56-62-64–182 (-32) Won by 1.
2004 Ott Chandler-Gary Wilborn 59-61-59–179 (-35) Won by 7.
2005 Ott Chandler-Gary Wilborn 61-61-62–184 (-30) Won by 5.
2006 Jeremy McGatha-Jaylon Ellison 60-60-62–182 (-32) Won by 2.
2007 Randy Reaves-Gary Wigington 60-61-60–181 (-33) Won by 1.
2008 Marcus Harrell-Ott Chandler 58-59-63–180 (-34) Won by 1.
2009 Jeremy McGatha-Jaylon Ellison 59-59-63–181 (-33) Won by 1.
2010 Marcus Harrell-Ott Chandler 57-59-63–179 (-35) Playoff, 2nd hole.
2011 Jeremy McGatha-Jaylon Ellison 57-58-60—175 (-39) Won by 6.
2012 Randy Reaves-Gary Wigington 58-58-60—176 (-38) Won by 1.
2013 Garrett Burgess-Cypress Hathorn 56-58-62–176 (-38) Won by 5.
2014 Ryan Howard-Lance Evans 56-60-60—176 (-38) Playoff, 1st hole.

x-First year of current handicap rule (strokes for no better than par)



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