Golf notebook: Brannen Veal named PGA Professional of Year

Brannen Veal, the director of golf at Sea Island, was selected as the Georgia PGA's Professional of the Year. (Courtesy of Brannen Veal)
Brannen Veal, the director of golf at Sea Island, was selected as the Georgia PGA's Professional of the Year. (Courtesy of Brannen Veal)

Credit: Courtesy of Brannen Veal

Credit: Courtesy of Brannen Veal

Brannen Veal always envisioned a future in professional sports. He thought it would be in baseball, but it turned out to be in golf. Veal, the director of golf at the Sea Island Golf Club, was named Professional of the Year by the Georgia PGA. The award is given annually to honor a working club professional whose contributions exemplify the complete PGA professional.

Veal is the son of Coot Veal, who played baseball at Auburn and spent six seasons the major leagues with the Detroit Tigers, Washington Senators and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Veal, 51, grew up in Macon and played college baseball at Middle Georgia College, where he was an All-American, and Auburn. He was a late-round draft choice by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But after college he entered the golf business and spent 2½ years as an assistant professional at the Robert Trent Jones Grand National Golf Course in Opelika, Ala. He has worked at Sea Island for 25 years and became head professional at the Lodge, overseeing the Plantation and Seaside courses, in 1999. He became director of golf in 2005.

“I was very humbled to receive this award,” Veal said. “It’s always nice to be recognized by your peers.”

Others honored by the Georgia PGA were: Jason Kuiper of Bobby Jones Golf Course (teacher of the year); Scott Schroeder of Atlanta Country Club (Bill Strausbaugh Award); Steve Archer of Capital City Club in Atlanta (professional development); Jacob Tilton of Ansley Golf Club in Atlanta (junior development); Diane Whitman of Braelinn Golf Club in Peachtree City (player development); Jake Keen of Maple Ridge Golf Club in Columbus (assistant professional of the year); Phil Taylor of Ansley Golf Club in Atlanta (merchandiser, private division); Justin Sigmon of Stone Creek Golf Club in Valdosta (merchandiser, public division); Caroline Basarab of Reynolds Lake Oconee in Greensboro (merchandiser, resort division); Jim Arendt of Bull Creek Golf Course in Midland (Patriot Award); and Dan Janton of Bridgestone Golf (salesman).

PGA notes

Georgia Tech grads Tyler Strafaci and Andy Ogletree, winners of the past two U.S. Amateur Championships, are competing in the Farmers Insurance Open this week on sponsor exemptions. The two were roommates for three years. Ogletree turned pro after finishing as low amateur at the Masters in November. Strafaci is remaining an amateur long enough to play in the Masters in April and the Walker Cup in June.

Strafaci could have returned to Tech this season, but opted to leave school, a decision that he said wasn’t an easy one.

“It’s always hard kind of leaving your friends and a coach (Bruce Hepler) that’s meant so much to you,” Strafaci said. “But it’s just one of those things that I kind of knew I was ready after talking with my parents and my support system.”

UGA’s Thompson defends Jones Cup title

Davis Thompson, a senior at Georgia, will defend his title at the Jones Cup Invitational at Ocean Forest Golf Club, Feb. 5-7. Thompson is ranked No. 2 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking behind only Japan’s Keita Nakajima.

Other Bulldogs in the invitation-only field, which will help determine this year’s Walker Cup team, are Trent Phillips, Spencer Ralston, Maxwell Ford and Will Chandler. Among the other Georgians in the field are Ben Carr and Mason Williams (Georgia Southern), Atlanta natives Keller Harper (Furman) and David Ford (North Carolina) and mid-amateur Lee Knox of Augusta, a two-time Georgia Amateur champion.

Miscellaneous

Tech finished seventh in the Southwestern Invitational in Westlake Village, Calif. Senior Will Dickson was 11th, his second consecutive top-15 finish, and Christo Lamprecht was 32nd in his freshman debut. The No. 20 Yellow Jackets will head to Hawaii for the Amer Ari Invitational, which starts Tuesday. ... Former Atlanta Hawk Paul Millsap is funding a 12-month paid fellowship through PGA Works that will be based at the Georgia PGA Section office. … The USGA will return to qualifiers for its national championships. Local qualifiers for the U.S. Open will be May 3 at Marietta Country Club and May 17 at Callaway Gardens. The sectional qualifying sites have not been announced. The U.S. Open is June 17-20 at Torrey Pines. Druid Hills Golf Club will host a Women’s Open qualifier May 3. The Women’s U.S. Open is June 3-6 at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.

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