E.A. Sports Today

Experienced rookie

Cider Ridge pro Shurden undaunted as he gets ready to experience the Sunny King Charity Classic for the first time

This is the approximate view from the drop tee premium on No. 16 at Cider Ridge. On the cover, Cider Ridge pro Lee Shurden (R) with Oxford City Championship winner Logan Archer.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – It was the Friday before the biggest tournament of the summer and Cider Ridge pro Lee Shurden was going through the clubhouse talking with players and taking care of business like any other day on the job.

Some course operators faced with overseeing part of the town’s biggest tournament for the first time might be a little on edge, but it’s nothing Shurden hasn’t seen before.


When you’ve dealt with almost as many tournament rounds in a year as your course does overall or handled one-day events with 500 players and the zany Bill Murray in the house, what really has a pro to be nervous about?

Shurden gets his first taste of the Sunny King Charity Classic experience this week, so from that standpoint there is a bit of the unknown, but with 408 total players spread across three courses over three days it’s nothing he hadn’t seen before.

“Bill Murray’s ‘Caddyshack,’” Shurden said, recalling his days at the World Golf Village in Florida. “It’s one day, two courses, 540 separate golfers. We did one shotgun, 42 fivesomes at the same time (at King & Bear). The Slammer & Squire does 180 players with two separate shotguns. In one stretch of 12 days we did 14 full-field shotguns. TPC Players Week, it’s unbelievable.

“So, daunting? I wouldn’t say so. When you talk about 400 players, that sounds daunting, but when you break it up over three days it’s really just a full-course tournament every day and if you break down into pieces it’s palatable. Four or five years ago would it have scared me? Absolutely. But now I’m pretty confident we’ll be ready to go. My staff’s excited about it.”

Shurden didn’t know much about the Classic before coming to Cider Ridge in November beyond some passing conversations during his 18 months at Limestone Springs. He’s gotten to learn a lot more about it in recent weeks as the event draws closer and is discovering the tournament just about runs itself.

He’s excited for the chance to show his course at its best to a large audience and wants to put its best foot forward.

“Most of them do (run themselves) if you have a good committee and obviously these people have been doing it quite a few times,” he said. “We can make suggestions, but typically defer to those guys. We know more about our course, but they know more about their event, so there’s a little bit of meeting in the middle for any suggestions. They’ve been great to work with.”

Cider Ridge will have a two-tee start with waves at 7:30 and 11:30 a.m., and offer a drop-tee premium on No. 16 where, for a donation to the tournament, players can place their ball in a marked area well down the fairway – laying 1 – for a short shot to the green. It will have a double pin on 18.

Players can expect most of the par-4s to play from the tradition III tees with a few backed up to the IIs for pace-of-play considerations. The par-3s will play at 165 yards (No. 3), 138 (No. 8), 137 (No. 12) and 146 (No. 17); the hole-in-one car will be offered on No. 3.

“They’ve had some pace-of-play issues before; they said it worked out much better last year so we’ll keep up with what’s working,” Shurden said. “Just trying to get better every year with it. It’s a lot of people so getting the logistics of it is a little demanding on their staff, my staff, but just trying to better than last year. If last year was good then we’re going to be better this year at it.”

SKCC NOTES: The field is full (204 teams). The last team to get in was Justin Dopson and Brian Beyerle. Updated pairings are available at East Alabama Sports Today … The double pin holes for the tournament will be No. 10 at ACC, No. 18 at Cider Ridge and No. 3 Backbreaker at Silver Lakes … Each course will have a tee drop: No. 16 at Cider Ridge, No. 15 at ACC and No. 7 Heartbreaker at Silver Lakes.

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