Local golf: Operation Double Eagle helps vets make transition

Hoyt Ellspermann (L), the superintendent at The Creek Club at Reynolds Lake Oconee, and Shannon Bowling (R), a retired veteran and graduate of the Operation Double Eagle program.
Hoyt Ellspermann (L), the superintendent at The Creek Club at Reynolds Lake Oconee, and Shannon Bowling (R), a retired veteran and graduate of the Operation Double Eagle program.

Credit: Reynolds Lake Oconee

Credit: Reynolds Lake Oconee

The Operation Double Eagle program created by the Warrior Alliance in Augusta has successfully been using golf to help military veterans make a smooth transition into civilian life.

The veterans, in partnership with Augusta Technical College, earn credit for work in the classroom and at the Augusta Municipal Golf Course, known to locals as “The Patch.” Participants receive free education and complete the program with a certificate and apply their skills at a working facility.

Shannon Bowling is one of the success stories from Operation Double Eagle. Bowling retired after a 20-year military career – four years in the Marine Corps and 16 in the U.S. Army. He was at the top of his class in Operation Double Eagle, graduated from the Augusta Tech Golf Course Management Program and is working at The Creek Club Golf Course at Reynolds Lake Oconee.

“He pretty much started at the bottom and has worked his way up,” said Hoyt Ellspermann, the superintendent at The Creek Club since 2011. “We keep giving him more and more, and he does everything we ask him and he never complains.”

Bowling has done everything from cutting fairways and greens to regular course management.

“The program has really helped me make the transition for military to the civilian work force,” said Bowling, a native of Bremen. “And one of the things that drew me to the program is that I’m an actual golfer, and I love the beauty of the course, and there’s some gratification that you’re helping make it look beautiful.”

The program was created to help address the needs of the 18 million veterans in the United States, 284,000 of them unemployed.

“This is really a good program for veterans,” Bowling said. “It’s a good way to help them with anything and make a transition back to civilian life.”

Information on the program is available at TheWarriorAlliance.org/Operation-Double-Eagle

University of Georgia graduate Spencer Ralston qualified for the 2021 U.S. Open at the final qualifier at Piedmont Driving Club.
University of Georgia graduate Spencer Ralston qualified for the 2021 U.S. Open at the final qualifier at Piedmont Driving Club.

Credit: Crimson Tide Photos / UA Athletics

Credit: Crimson Tide Photos / UA Athletics

Ralston, Sigg qualify for U.S. Open

Recent graduate Spencer Ralston and 2017 graduate Grayson Sigg are the latest Georgia Bulldogs to qualify for next week’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. Their addition means Georgia will have eight representatives in the national championship. They join Harris English, Brian Harman, Russell Henley, Kevin Kisner, Brendon Todd and Bubba Watson.

Ralston and Sigg both shot 9-under 135 at the qualifier to earn one of the five available spots up for grabs at the Piedmont Driving Club. Ralston came up big at the end, making birdie on the final hole to avoid a playoff.

Sigg competes on the Korn Ferry Tour and recently won the Visit Knoxville Open to guarantee his spot on the 2021-22 PGA Tour. This will be his second consecutive visit to the U.S. Open.

Ralston, a Gainesville native, was a consistent force in his career and played in 51 of a possible 52 tournaments. His only professional event was the 2020 RBC Heritage.

The other three qualifying spots went to Davis Shore of Knoxville, Tenn., the medalist at 11-under 133, Hayden Buckley of Tupelo, Miss., at 10 under, and Rick Lamb of Nashville, Tenn., at 8 under.

Shipp, Phillips to compete in Palmer Cup

Ben Shipp of Norcross, who played at N.C. State, and Georgia’s Trent Phillips are on the United States team that will compete in the Arnold Palmer Cup this week at Rich Harvest Farms outside Chicago.

Shipp played at Greater Atlanta Christian and finished his career with five wins, tied for third-most in N.C. State history. He finished second at the ACC Championships is No. 33 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

Phillips had one win and four top-10s this season and was named first-team All-SEC. He is No. 60 in the WAGR.

Cap City’s Peterson wins Georgia PGA Senior

Todd Peterson of the Capital City Club in Atlanta won the Georgia PGA Senior Championship at Glen Arven Country Club in Thomasville.

Peterson shot rounds of 68-69 and beat Paul Claxton of Brunswick Country Club by one shot. Sonny Skinner of Spring Hill Country Club in Tifton and Stephen Keppler of Marietta Country Club tied for third at 2-under 142.

They all earn a spot in the Senior PGA Professional Championship, which features 264 of the nation’s top senior players, Oct. 21-24 at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The top 35 there are exempt into the 2022 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship and the top eight are exempt into the 2022 Senior PGA Professional Championship.

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