E.A. Sports Today

Back in the game

Golf notes: Spaulding returns to golf as new pro at Indian Oaks; Evans, Hathorn in top 5 at State Four-Ball; County Four-Ball pairings

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Players checking in for the Big Brothers Big Sisters scramble Saturday are going to find a familiar face behind the counter at Indian Oaks Golf Club.

Marc Spaulding is back in the golf business, accepting the challenge of becoming the new head pro at the Saks area course. His first official day is Friday, when he’ll be setting up the carts and course for the tournament.

County golfers will remember Spaulding as the head pro at Cane Creek Golf Course for six seasons before stepping away in 2008 to focus on running his popular Heroes American Grille.

His confidence in the restaurant’s current management team is allowing him to return to his lifelong passion, where he’ll be concentrating on “getting that course into really good shape,” giving lessons and increasing rounds. He had gotten his amateur status back, but now will take advantage of a one-time reinstatement of his Class A PGA card.

Spaulding will be a golf pro by day and a restaurateur by night.

“I’ve had the itch (to get back) for quite a while,” he said. “I’m not doing this for the money or anything. I’m doing this more to help some people out who really need some help and it’s a challenge. I love a challenge and I love golf.”

Spaulding replaces Ron McClellan, who helped get the club through the beginnings of its reopening but left earlier this month following a dispute over the distribution of prizes during the Indian Oaks Championship.

“You can’t let the grass grow under your feet,” Indian Oaks board president Laura Satterfield said. “We knew Marc was a good man with a good reputation who wanted to get back in the business. We talked last week and he definitely let me know he was interested in getting back in.

“He’s going to be a real shot in the arm to the business out here.”

With Spaulding getting back in the game, can his summertime golf ultra-marathon for charity be far behind?

“I’ve been thinking about getting in shape and doing that again, but I’ve had two back surgeries,” he said. “The marathon may or may nor happen. When I play 18 holes now I’m about worn out because I hardly play. If I play a little more and work out, it may be a possibility.”

It’s ironic the Big Brothers Big Sisters event will be his first at Indian Oaks. The first marathon Spaulding did at Cane Creek benefitted the organization. He also conducted the Million Dollar Shootout for its benefit and served on its board.

“I’m coming full circle,” he said.

STATE FOUR-BALL: Sometimes having something bad happen early in a round is the perfect wake up call.

Anniston Country Club’s Lance Evans and Cypress Hathorn shot 5-under–par 67 Thursday in the opening round of the State Four-Ball Championship at Wynlakes. It left them tied for fifth, four shots off the lead but more importantly two ahead of the top 16 cutline for match play.

They made their big move with four birdies in a six-hole stretch in the middle of the round. The thing that got them going was a bogey on the second hole after making birdie at the first.

“You hear a lot of times people have a hard time going low because when things go well they tense up,” Hathorn said. “After the first hole you feel some of that, then you get a bogey and it brings you back a little.”

The team made six birdies and the bogey. Evans made five birdies on his own ball, Hathorn made two; they both birdied No. 1. Evans also kept the round going with four knee-knocking four-footer to save pars.

Trip Smalley and Matt Ritchie of Mobile lead at 9-under. They played their last four holes in 4-under (two birdies and an eagle).

Former JSU golf and tennis coach Steve Bailey and Paul McGee of Birmingham shot even-par 72 and are tied for 26th.

ACES IN THE CROWD: Hoyt Turner scored a hole-in-one at Pine Hill CC Tuesday when he aced the par-3 14th from 139 yards with a 9-iron.

Also, Paul Kennedy made back-to-back eagles on 7 and 8. He holed out from 48 yards on the par-4 seventh and then drove the par-4 eighth to a foot and made the putt.

COUNTY FOUR-BALL: The Calhoun County Four-Ball, the newest event on the county golf calendar, is this weekend at Anniston Municipal Golf Course. Twenty-two teams will compete in 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. shotgun starts Saturday and a 1 p.m. shotgun for Sunday’s scamble.

The event will mark the competitive return of Gary Wilborn, the first Calhoun County Player of the Year who has been away from the course since falling ill a few years ago. Wilborn had planned to make his return in the County Two-Man in March, but withdrew over concerns with the weather. He is partnered this weekend with James Ramey.

The Hill’s men’s golf association will be grilling at lunch and conducting a raffle that will go off prior to Sunday’s round.

Here are the first-round tee assignments:

Saturday’s Four-Ball
8 a.m. shotgun
Hole 1 – Etter-Bowen, Minter-Geeting
Hole 3 – Whitaker-Thomas, Heim-Davis
Hole 4 – Turley-Harrell, Goggans-Hollingsworth
Hole 5 – Mackenzie-Dickson, Calkins-Viehe
Hole 6 – Wigington-Cole, Wilborn-Wilborn
Hole 8 – Watson-Pollard, Phillips-Coffey
Hole 9 – Roberts-McKinney, Jackson-Stewart

1 p.m. shotgun
Hole 1 – Wilborn-Ramey, Daugherty-Daugherty
Hole 3 – J. McGatha-M. Rogers, Brooks-Thompson
Hole 6 – Chandler-Chandler, Travis-Travis
Hole 8 – Hardin-Turner, K. Rogers-T.J. McGatha

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