E.A. Sports Today

Next on the tee

This weekend’s Gadsden City Championship at Twin Bridges kicks off 2021 Calhoun County Golf Tour schedule; UPDATED SATURDAY PAIRINGS

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

GADSDEN – The new Calhoun County Golf Tour season tees off this weekend on a new venue with a new event that’s a revival of an old event on a course that may seem kind of new some of the players.

The Tour welcomes Twin Bridges Golf Club to its rota of courses and Gadsden City Championship. The event expands the scope and footprint of the Tour, giving it nine points-bearing tournaments with six in Calhoun County and three in Etowah County.

The tournament also provides the Tour with a City Triple Crown of sorts with next month’s Oxford City Championship at Cider Ridge and the newly named Anniston City Championship at Cane Creek.

“The most important thing is, because it’s part of your Tour, to get these guys from surrounding counties to see the golf course who probably haven’t seen it in a while,” Twin Bridges general manager Chet Hallman said. “That means a lot, to put the City of Gadsden and that facility out there. We’re looking forward to seeing what some of the better players in the area can do on it.

“It’s real important for us to be a part of (the Tour); it’s the main attraction in this area and if you’re not on that you’re kind of getting left behind. It’s important for us to be part of it, but also for us to put on a good event and have something the guys enjoy and will want to come back.”

The Gadsden City Championship had gotten to be a staple on that community’s golf calendar, but it hadn’t been played for a variety of reasons since 2017.

In September the course reopened after changing its greens from the original bentgrass to TifEagle Bermuda (the same strain they’re planning to put in at Cider Ridge next year). Hallman said the response to the change has been “fantastic.”

“For us, that was the last big piece and it’s made a huge difference,” he said. “We’re going to go into this summer and not be holding our breath (on the health of the greens). The thing was we just want a good putting surface. This was the best option and so far it appears we made the right decision.

“We’ve got people who haven’t been playing regularly back out. The guys have been telling us for years when you get the greens right we’ll be back and that’s been true. It’s been good. We’ve just got to keep on top of it and keep trying to please the customer.”

More than 70 players have registered to play this weekend. Everyone who plays is eligible for County Tour player points and the top 16 in the standings following the 85th County Championship qualify for the County Match Play Championship. Players are encouraged to record fairway, greens and putting statistics to qualify for a variety of year-end awards.

At Twin Bridges Golf Club, Gadsden
Saturday pairings
8 a.m.: Tee Brown, Will Broome, Greg Burnett, Bill Gilchrist.
8:07: Johnny Barnes, Kelly Rogers, Randy Watkins, Ted Heim.
8:15: Andrew Brooks, Brennan Clay, Jeremy McGatha, Matt Rogers.
8:22: Hunter Carr, Zach Mangum, Casey Harmon, Dustin Travis.
8:30: Chase Thomas, Timmy Woodard, Graham Morrow.
8:37: Nathan Williams, Daniel Ricks, Jason Payne, Nick Hubbard.
8:45: Mark Guyther, Mike Hughston, Harrison Hughston.
8:52: Logan Forrester, Clay Calkins, Clayton Chandler, Maverick Smith.
9:00: Drew Anderton, Dane Moore, Corey Ray, Chandler Richards.
9:45: Matt Miller, Danny Whittaker, Tanner Wells, Will Brown.
9:52: Mark Gaines, Justin Goree, Drey Reeves, Eric Ray.
10:00: Chad Calvert, Daily Thomas, Gary Wigington, Mason Dennis.
10:07: Chris Cox, Jeff Chapman, Mark McCaig, Matt Greer.
10:15: Keith Hutcheson, Scott Jimmerson, Randy Lipscomb, Craig Messer.
10:22: Adam Benefiel, Houston Black, Dennis Moyer, Dre Davenpot.
11:00: Ty Cole, Jeremy Willis, Corbin Holland, Clay Smith.
11:07: Starter’s Time.
11:15: Starter’s Time.
11:22: Starter’s Time.
11:30: Kenny Fulmer, Chip Howell, Blake Grisham, Chance Harris.
11:37: Chase Hollingsworth, Jake Goggans, Jody Wooten.
1 p.m.: Tyler Dobson, Nick Pollard, Josh Poole, Caleb McKinney.
1:07: Norman Clifton, Lamar Carter.
Note: Contact chet@twinbridgesgolf.comwith any questions or need to be added to the field.

Cane Creek upgrades

The Gadsden City Championship occupies the season-opening spot on the Tour schedule that has most recently been held by Cane Creek. COVID-19 canceled last year’s Cane Creek Invitational and when the schedule was configured this year it moved to later in the season.

Just as players Twin Bridges will notice something different about that golf course when they play this weekend, so, too, will they notice some changes when they get to Cane Creek.

Under the direction of consulting manager Chip Howell, the course recently completed a PGA Tour-quality bunker restoration project and will soon undergo a deep tine and fill aerification of its greens (along with Anniston Municipal and Pine Hill).

The course-wide bunker project was handled by Sur-Line Turf of Northport, the same group that restored the bunkers at Austin Country Club, site of the recently played WGC-Match Play Championship. In addition to bringing the shape back to the Cane Creek bunkers, workers sodded the edges and filled them with bright white cracked angular sand that promotes even coverage into the faces.

“It’ll certainly eliminate an embarrassment of having to just take your ball out of the bunker and play from nearest point of relief,” Howell said. “They are certainly playable, less maintenance, and with the flat bottoms the drainage is great and it should eliminate a lot of the maintenance of putting the sand back up on the faces.”

Future events

Entries are now being accepted for the Oxford City Championship (May 1-2) at Cider Ridge and the Wilfred Galbraith Anniston CC Invitational (June 4-6).

The Cider Ridge event will offer a men’s, women’s and senior division and is limited to the first 144 players. Entry fee is $130 per player

Entry fee for the ACC Invitational is $200 ($150 ACC members). The low 36 and ties will comprise the 54-hole blue tee championship flight; all others will play white tees on the weekend. Seniors (60-plus) will play 36 holes from the gold tees. Deadline for entries is June 2. 

Reach out to  both courses for more information.

Earlier this week the Tour announced a date change for one of its tournaments. The Etowah County Open at the Links at Briarmeade in Glencoe will move to July 10-11 – the previous weekend of the Sunny King Charity Classic – to give its greens more time to recover from the winter. It was originally scheduled for June 26-27.

Here is the Tour schedule (with some additional events added):

April 17-18 – Gadsden City Championship, Twin Bridges
May 1-2 – Oxford City Championship, Cider Ridge
May 15-16 – RTJ Silver Lakes Championship
May 22-23 – Anniston City Championship, Cane Creek
June 4-6 – Wilfred Galbraith Anniston CC Invitational 
July 10-11 – Etowah County Open, The Links at Briarmeade
July 31-Aug. 1 – Pine Hill Invitational
Aug. 13-15 – Gadsden CC Invitational
Aug. 28-29 – 85th Calhoun County Championship, Anniston Municipal
Oct. 2-3 – Calhoun County Match Play Championship, Anniston Municipal

Other Events
March 27-28 – Calhoun County Two-Man, Silver Lakes
May 29-30 – Cherokee County CC Two-Man Scramble
June 4 – Piedmont Golf Team Fundraiser, Pine Hill
July 17 – Cherokee County CC Senior Invitational
July 23-25 – Alabama Open, Twin Bridges GC
July 24-25 – Dub Ellis Invitational, Cherokee County CC
Sept. 11-12 – Buddy Moore Charity Classic, Anniston Municipal
Sept. 17 – Salute to Industry, Anniston CC
Sept. 24-26 – Sunny King Charity Classic
Oct. 6 – RMC Foundation, Anniston CC
Oct. 21 – Martha Vandervoort Memorial, Anniston CC

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