Local golf: 100th Georgia Am takes center stage

Steve Kibare finished in the top 10 at the 2020 Georgia Amateur as a high school senior. He now plays at Dalton State.
Caption
Steve Kibare finished in the top 10 at the 2020 Georgia Amateur as a high school senior. He now plays at Dalton State.

Credit: Kate Awtrey

Credit: Kate Awtrey

The last time someone other than a college student won the Georgia Amateur Championship was 10 years ago at Cherokee Town and Country Club, the same place the 100th playing of the event will be held this weekend.

David Noll of Dalton shot a 66 on the final day to outduel fellow mid-am Billy Mitchell of Roswell on Cherokee’s difficult North Course and win his second state amateur title.

Since Noll’s victory at Cherokee, the Georgia Amateur has seen a coronation of collegiate players – Alabama’s Lee Knox in 2012, Kennesaw State’s Jimmy Beck in 2013, Columbus State’s Robert Mize in 2014, Alabama’s Dru Love in 2015, Mercer’s Justin Connelly in 2017, Georgia Southern’s Brett Barron in 2018, Florida State’s Jonathan Keppler in 2019 and Georgia Tech’s Luke Schniederjans in 2020. (High schooler Colin Bowles won in 2016.)

Cherokee, which is hosting the Georgia Amateur for the fourth time, may be the venue that opens the door for a non-college player. It isn’t a course that can be bullied or overpowered. It requires a player to shape shots in both directions and features some difficult greens.

“The grades on those greens are just so treacherous,” Noll said. “They’re so fast and so difficult. (In 2011) when the day was over, I was the last one to leave the golf course every day. I stayed on that putting green as long as I could. And on Saturday night there were two guys left. It was me and Billy Mitchell, and ultimately that’s who made the big challenge on Sunday. We were the last two guys there, and he helped me with my putting. Golf is funny how it works that way sometimes.”

Each of the state’s top college programs are represented in the field: Will Kahlstorf, Eli Scott and incoming freshman Buck Brumlow from Georgia; Andy Mao and Aiden Kramer from Georgia Tech; Jack Boltja, Hogan Ingram and Bowles from Georgia Southern; Brock Healy, Luke Phillips, Conner Rostowsky and Takafumi Shimoji from Kennesaw State; Steve Kibare and Matthew Cleary from NAIA champion Dalton State; Josh Edgar, Jake Kephart, Owen Sertl and Will Chambless from Georgia State; Jonathan Parker from Mercer; and Grant Crowell and Evan Thompson of North Georgia.

In addition to Noll, the top mid-amateurs in the field include Steven Behr, a former Clemson standout who won the National Club Championship this spring, Dalton Melnyk of Atlanta, Robert Sheats of Atlanta and Tim Schaetzel of Atlanta. Cherokee Club champion Sam Lape, who plays at Furman, is another threat.

“I think the North Course is an outstanding venue because it has a lot of great shot values,” said Mark Mongell, PGA director of golf at Cherokee. “On this golf course, if you can get the lines right and if you can get it off the tee, if you can enter the greens from the right spot, then you’re going to have an opportunity. But if your iron play isn’t satisfactory, you’re going to have a very difficult time because you’re short-sided on multiple sides. The greens have a lot of undulation and, as a result, position and shot value is extremely important. That’s what makes it fun.”

Jenny Bae, a member of the UGA golf team, won the 2021 Georgia Women's Open and qualified for the 2021 U.S. Women's Amateur
Caption
Jenny Bae, a member of the UGA golf team, won the 2021 Georgia Women's Open and qualified for the 2021 U.S. Women's Amateur

Credit: University of Georgia

Credit: University of Georgia

Bae adds two more wins to successful summer

Jenny Bae has been on quite a run. The University of Georgia senior from Lawrenceville followed up last week’s win at the Georgia Women’s Amateur by winning the Georgia Women’s Open and winning the qualifier for the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

Bae shot 66-72 at the University of Georgia Golf Course in Athens to win the Georgia Women’s Open by two shots over Minji Kang of Duluth, who plays at Mercer. Madison Young of Roswell took solo third at 1-under 143.

Bae shot 67 to lead six qualifiers at Woodmont Golf and Country Club in Canton for a spot at the U.S. Women’s Am, which will be Aug. 2-8 at Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y.

Others who qualified for the U.S. Women’s Am at Woodmont were Megan Scholfill of Auburn, Auston Kim of Vanderbilt, Kimberly Shen of Johns Creek, Mikayla Dubnik of Murrayville and Emerson Blair of West Point, Miss. Payton Schanen of Woodstock and Minji Kang of Duluth won the playoff to take the first and second alternate spots.

UGA golfer Caroline Craig was medalist at her qualifier and earned a spot in the 2021 U.S. Women's Amateur.
Caption
UGA golfer Caroline Craig was medalist at her qualifier and earned a spot in the 2021 U.S. Women's Amateur.

Credit: University of Georgia

Credit: University of Georgia

Craig win U.S. Women’s Am qualifier

Georgia’s Caroline Craig dominated the U.S. Women’s Amateur qualifier at Carolina Trace Country Club in Sanford, N.C. She shot 3-under 69 and won by three. She was the only player in red numbers.

UGA teammate Celeste Dao earned a second-alternate spot at the qualifier in Vancouver, Wash.

Coble earns U.S. Women’s Senior Open spot

Georgia Golf Hall of Fame member Laura Coble of Augusta was medalist at the U.S. Women’s Senior Open qualifier at Capital City – Brookhaven. Coble shot a 2-over 72 and advances to the championship July 29-Aug. 1 at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Conn.

Danielle Davis of St. Simons shot 74 and earned the second spot in a playoff over Tonya Gill Danckaert of Atlanta, who is the first alternate. Denise Killeen of Canton shot 75 to earn second alternate.

Spots available for College Golf Experience

A few places remain for the College Golf Experience camp hosted by Emory coach John Sjoberg at Smoke Rise Country Club in Stone Mountain, Aug. 3-4.

The CGX Institutional Camps are open to boys and girls, age 10-18. The focus is on instruction with an emphasis on wedge play, simulated collegiate practice and tournament rounds, and seminars hosted by coaches.

Sjoberg has been the head coach at Emory since 2011. His team finished sixth at the NCAA Division III Championships this year, and he was a finalist for national coach of the year.

Information is available at CollegeGolfX.com. Deadline to register is Aug. 2.