“There are plenty of elite invitationals for boys, but we felt this was something lacking for the females,” said Kurt Hitzeman, the former Carrollton High School golf coach and a guiding influence for the event. “This is going to be first class. We’re going to treat them to an experience they wouldn’t normally get in a typical junior tournament.”
The event was inspired by the memory of Wayne Edison, a former college golfer who worked as a PGA TOUR caddie for the likes of Bruce Devlin, Mac McLendon and Tommy Aaron. Before his death, Edison, who worked at the course, set aside money to be used for junior golf.
“We felt like we had to do something of this magnitude,” Sunset Hills PGA professional Justin Japour said. “We felt this was the platform to bring an event with more meaning than just a regular event.”
Planning began in 2022. Sunset Hills members have been actively supporting the event and the club’s committee is chaired by Steve Davis and Mandy Jackson. Nationally known instructor and Columbus State golf coach Mark Immelman is on board as an advisor. Melisssa Luellen, the head women’s golf coach at Auburn, has already signed on to be the speaker at the banquet. The Suggs Invitational is sponsored by the LPGA Foundation and TaylorMade.
Sunset Hills has a long association with women’s golf. Thanks to Suggs’ influence, it hosted the LPGA Carrollton Open from 1950-55 and drew iconic names like Patty Berg and Babe Zaharias. For years it has hosted events sanctioned by the Georgia State Golf Association.
“We have a history of women’s golf and it made sense to continue that tradition,” Japour said. “And this course sets up perfectly for a tournament of this magnitude.”
In order to be considered, players must submit an application and a resume. Applications will be accepted on March 1, with the field selected on May 15. The tournament is expected to draw the top players throughout the Southeast. Applications are available at SuggsInvitational.com.