E.A. Sports Today

The Browns are back

Father-son team returns to Classic looking to recapture magic that brought them a flight title in 2006





By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Ten years ago this week Joel Brown enjoyed his fondest memory ever on a golf course. It wouldn’t hurt his feelings to relive it again this year and, truth be told, the stars are aligning for it.

It was 2006 when Brown, then a 21-year-old Sunny King Charity Classic rookie, and his dad David came from five shots back in the next to last group on Sunday at Cider Ridge Golf Club to win their flight.

They’re back in the Classic for the first time in nine years and – guess what – they’re among the final groups on Sunday at Cider Ridge again. Before the pairings got a final adjustment Thursday they were the next to last group – just like in 2006.

“This is the most stoked I’ve been for a tournament in a long while,” Joel said. “It’s honestly the best tournament I have seen anywhere in the last 10 years; nothing compares. I can’t say it enough. And the fact I get to do it with my dad, that’s icing on the cake.”

The premium entry fee kept the Browns from playing in it when Joel was younger, but the duo was never idle in the years in between they didn’t play in the King. They made a tradition of picking one multi-day tournament each year to play together knowing they’d someday get back here and they finally got back around to it this year after Joel settled into his job as general manager of the Oxford Lone Star Steakhouse.

Now that they’re back, Joel says they’ll play in it together from now on. Joel is a 10-handicap that gets them in the Toyota Avalon second flight. David, the co-manager of the Jacksonville Wal-Mart, is a 14 with a steady, Zach Johnson-like game.

“I knew we’d be back in it and be back as a permanent stay,” he said. “I knew for a fact we’d be back in this tournament and there’s not another person I’d do it with other than my dad. He’s my partner.”

It’s the tournament’s impact on the community that holds the biggest appeal for the Browns. Corporate policy prevents Joel from sponsoring his own entry, but he is sponsoring half of two other teams – Cory Etter-Caleb Bowen and Dustin Viehe-Will Bedford.

The Browns, meanwhile, are sponsored by Pate Painting and Remodeling.

“The quality of golf we’re going to see this weekend is unlike any other in the state of Alabama and really the whole Southeast,” Joel said. “This is the tournament people look forward to. This is the tournament the big dogs go.

“If people on the outside looking in wonder what’s the big deal, we get to see the best of the best down here,” Joel said. “The quality of golf we’re going to see this weekend is unlike any other in the state of Alabama, really the whole Southeast. And it’s for a good cause. It’s going to give back so much money to the local charities.”

Contending for the win is a bonus.

The Browns withstood two rain delays in Oxford the year they won it.

Knowing they had a lot of ground to make up when the day started, they were 6-under through eight holes at the first delay, then came back out and birdied two of their next four before being chased inside again by lightning.

When play resumed once again they salvaged two pars from potential disaster on 16 and 17, catching a favorable ricochet from the trees on 16 and burying a long putt on 17 after missing the green off the tee and nearing wrecking their cart coming down the hill. By then they were running on pure adrenaline.

“That’s a memory we will talk about with his grandkids, my grandkids,” Joel said. “We will talk about all of it because that’s how much the tournament meant to us.”

During the second delay David saw the scores being sent to tournament central at Anniston Country Club and knew they had a lead, but he didn’t tell his son until his approach shot on 18.

Joel was positioned in front the green in 2 and was uncertain whether to chip on or make the safer play with a putter. He looked to his father for guidance and whether an eagle would help and was told, “it won’t matter; we can’t help ourselves.”

It was only after Joel nervously completed the par that his dad let him in on the secret: They had won by two shots.

“So we get to ACC to validate, he walks in front of me and sees the scores and his eyes get as big as softballs,” Joel recalled. “Just the pure emotion and happiness coming out of him made me the happiest man in the world. He had played in it many years before and not won a flight. To be able to give that to my dad was a big deal to me.”

Maybe it can happen again.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login