E.A. Sports Today

Beat it, Barry

Storm threat on horizon, but SKCC organizers planning for 54-hole event; Grizzard tees it up for final time
By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
As near as anyone can remember there has never been a full round of the Sunny King Charity Classic washed out by the weather, but that doesn’t mean tournament organizers and course managers never keep their eyes on the sky.
With the threat of a tropical disturbance forming in the Gulf later this week and potentially impacting the area’s weather, tournament officials are keeping their fingers crossed for a complete 54-hole event. If the weather does develop into a named storm, forecasters say it would be called Barry.
“We can’t have a rain in my first year,” tournament chairman Brett Key said Monday, conceding later the prospects for rain was a tossup. “Hopefully I can be the ‘Dodged the Big One commissioner.’
“Obviously, we’re absolutely hoping for perfect weather, but from my short time in the racing industry (as director of accounting at Talladega Superspeedway) I learned you can’t do anything about it. We’re going to cross our fingers and hope it holds off.”
The 2005 Classic wasn’t so fortunate. During Chris Hagan’s term as tournament chairman, the final round was played with the leading edge of Hurricane Dennis bearing down on the area. Players still recall the big tree that used to be by No. 16 green at Anniston Country Club shaking under the fury of the wind.
The 2002, 2007, 2008 and 2009 tournaments all experienced some form of weather-related suspension, but play eventually resumed, sometimes ending under the cloak of darkness; one year it forced the cancellation of the post-round big-money shots, but the tournament played to completion. In 2008, the third round at Cider Ridge was reduced to nine holes due to weather; Key was a cart attendant at the course that year.
The directors of golf at Anniston CC, Cider Ridge and Silver Lakes will be in charge of determining the course of play at their respective facilities this weekend. Any scoring adjustments are a wait-and-see proposition. It gets tricky at Cider Ridge and Silver Lakes because both use two-tee starts.
Key hopes none of that will be necessary.
“Our plan is to get all three (rounds) in and if there’s no terrible storm we’ll play through the rain,” he said.
For the golf that does get played, the short-tee premium once again will be offered at all three courses and at the same locations they were a year ago – No. 16 at Cider Ridge (125 yards), Heartbreaker No. 7 at Silver Lakes (200 yards) and No. 15 at ACC (75 yards).
For a $20 donation, teams will be allowed to skip the tee and advance up the fairway for their second shot. The novelty raised $2,800 its first year at Cider Ridge and more than $6,000 through the first two rounds last year.
GRAND FINALE: It’s not exactly the Swilcan Bridge and will only be the second round, but when Billy Grizzard walks across the bridge to the 18th green at Anniston CC Saturday, you couldn’t blame him to feel the way Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus did playing their final competitive round in the British Open at St. Andrews.
Grizzard is playing in his final Sunny King Classic this year. After 25 years of the (mostly) good and bad that comes with the tournament, the 74-year-old Oxford surveyor has decided the time has come to yield the tee.
“This will be his final one,” longtime Classic partner Wayne Tillman said. “If you want to shake his hand, this is the time to do it.”
The timing of his milestone 25th had very little to do with the decision, Grizzard said. His age, home and business obligations and the fact he doesn’t play as much as he used to all figured in the equation.
“I thought about it the last couple years and I’d tell (wife) Melanie I’m thinking this might be my last but she says no it won’t,” he said. “So this year I said this is going to be it; I’m declaring. I never have said that before, always said it might be my last, but I said it.
“I’ve had a tremendous amount of fun, met a lot of people I became friends with and remain friends with and some I didn’t see very much except during Sunny King week,” he said. “That part of it, the camaraderie with the guys and the competition, you’ll miss that, but I’ll be fine.”
It’s been a good run, with Tillman by his side for most of it. They won their flight in 2012, were second (by a shot) in 2011 and between 2008 and 2017 had six top five and eight top 10 flight finishes.
His final Sunny King round will come at Silver Lakes. Don’t expect any emotion when he shakes hands with his playing partners coming off the green at Mindbreaker 9 to call it a wrap. Or regrets. Or take backs.
“It’ll just be a whipped old man, just like the last couple have been,” he said. “If we were to hop out there and win it might make the decision more difficult, but when I make a decision I make a decision.”

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