E.A. Sports Today

Cane Creek prepping for pros

Cane Creek improvements; County, Buddy Moore filling up; Dub Ellis, Pine Hill Invitationals on tap; State women’s stroke play update

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

The pros who haven’t played here in a year and the amateurs who haven’t played here in a while can expect a different Cane Creek Golf Course than they remember when they play in the Fort McClellan Credit Union Pro-Invitational next month.

The course’s tree-clearing project last fall, an aggressive fairway treatment program in the spring and 21 inches of rain in 30 days this season have promoted turf growth in areas director of golf Kenny Szuch says “hasn’t been seen in 50 years.”

The tournament is Aug. 4-6. Pros and championship-flight amateurs play three days while player flights begin Saturday. Entry fee is $150 for amateurs, $475 for professionals, and $400 for Emerald Coast Tour and PGA members. Once entered, players have access to unlimited practice rounds for cart fee.

Some 2,000 trees have been cleared from the property, the first element of a suspended three-phase project designed to enhance the profitability of the city-operated course, opening fairways and tees to turf expansion.

There also had been plans for a five-acre, 60-million-gallon irrigation lake and re-grassed greens for an envisioned July 15 grand reopening, but setbacks put those phases on hold, if not scrapped altogether.

Still, the tree removal has achieved its goal. A recent inspection showed several fairways and tee boxes that once were hard and bare filling in nicely. Soon, the shaded back tees on No. 6 and No. 8 will be sodded to advance the process.

“With our limited funds we stretched the dollars as big as we could and we sprayed and sprayed and nuked this place, everywhere but the greens,” Szuch said. “You won’t recognize some of these tees. The fairways are growing a half-inch a day. With our lack of adequate irrigation the rain was definitely an asset.

“And this is in the early stages; give us once going through the season. Heaven forbid if we were given a 10-minute irrigation cycle every night with some liquid fertilizer kicked in there. You would already have wall-to-wall coverage.”

The tree removal also has changed the approach to some holes and to the perspective of some the course will play easier. The most glaring example is the par-5 eighth where driver now is in play.

“It’s opened up a couple risk-reward things,” Szuch said.

Among the pros anticipated in the field are Kyle Sapp, the event’s only two-time pro champion; Jordan Anderton, who has played every year; and Cam Norman, a recently turned pro from Greenville who won his first pro start on the Emerald Coast Tour.

On the amateur side, the overall medalist will receive the unique “championship belt” trophy and the flight-winners playoff winner receives an embossed staff bag.

BUT BEFORE THAT: The Dub Ellis Invitational at Cherokee County CC in Centre is this weekend; spots are still available. Entry fee is $100. Call the pro shop (927-5070) to schedule a Saturday tee time. Seniors (60 and over) will have their own flights.

Next weekend, the Calhoun County Golf Tour returns with the Pine Hill Invitational.

DON’T WAIT: Now that the Sunny King Charity Classic is over, entries are being accepted for the Calhoun County Championship and Buddy Moore Scramble, both at Anniston Municipal GC – and spots are expected to go fast.

The 81st annual Calhoun County Championship is Aug. 19-20. Entry fee is $120 and the field is limited to the first 80 players.

The Buddy Moore Scramble is Aug. 26-27. Entry fee is $125 per player/$250 per team and sponsorship opportunities are available. The event raised more than $15,000 for local children in need and $72,000 since its inception.

Contact Matt Rogers, preferably by text at 453-0206, to secure a spot in either event.

STATE WOMEN’S STROKE PLAY: Jacksonville’s Chloe Borders shot 4-over-par 75 and is currently tied for fourth, three shots off the lead, after Wednesday’s opening round of 27th Alabama Women’s Stroke Play Championship at NorthRiver Yacht Club in Tuscaloosa.

Anniston’s Layne Dyar got off to a rough start, but played her final 15 holes in 2-over and shot 77 and is in seventh place. Cammie Gray of Northport leads after a 1-over 72.

Alexandria’s Jordan Gregoria shot 88, Anniston’s Raegan Thompson shot 89 and Jacksonville’s Madilyn Turner shot 94.

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