Duluth’s Charles Huntzinger will look to defend his title in the annual Dogwood Invitational, which will be played June 28-July 1 at Druid Hills GC.
Huntzinger, who will be a junior this Fall at Penn State, won by one shot last year over a trio of players, among them 2015 Dogwood champion Dawson Armstrong of Lipscomb, who will also be in this year’s field.
A final round 68 gave Hunzinger a 72-hole total of 17-under 271 on the venerable Dogwood layout, which has undergone some bunker renovations since last year’s tournament. Among the holes most impacted by the changes is the seventh, with re-positioning of bunkers making a difference on both the tee shot and approach on the reachable par 5. Also, some tree removal on Dogwood’s trio of short par 4s – holes 3, 12 and 15, has altered the appearance and strategy on all three.
Another change of note to the course is the addition of a new back tee on the short par-3 sixth that has added significant length to the hole and changed the angle of the tee shot. The work on the course was directed by Atlanta native Bill Bergin, who has also handled re-design work at Pinetree and Dunwoody CC in metro Atlanta. Prior to Bergin’s recent work, Druid Hills was extensively re-designed in 2003 by Bob Cupp, the late Atlanta-based architect.
Huntzinger, who played his high school golf at Peachtree Ridge, took the lead late in the final round last year with birdies at 15 and 16 to overtake Armstrong, who shot 65 in the final round with birdies at 14, 15, 16 and 17. Huntzinger was an all-Big 10 selection as a sophomore at Penn State, winning for a second time and helping lead the Nittany Lions to a spot in the NCAA Championship.
The field for the 2017 Dogwood includes a large contingent of players from Georgia, many of whom play their college golf at the state’s Division 1 schools.
Among those entered in this week’s tournament are the UGA trio of Will Chandler (Atlanta), David Mackey (Watkinsville) and Spencer Ralston (Gainesville), the 2016 runner-up in the Georgia Amateur, who tied for eighth in last year’s Dogwood.
Georgia Tech is represented in the tournament by James Clark (Columbus), Jacob Joiner (Leesburg) and Luke Schniederjans (Powder Springs), who was 10th in the 2016 Dogwood. Clark is coming off a recent runner-up finish in the annual Southeastern Amateur at Country Club of Columbus, where he shot a pair of 63s and finished at 18-under 266, but was overtaken in the final round by Jonathan Hardee, a member of the golf team at Alabama.
Georgia Southern also has a trio of Georgia residents in the field – Brett Barron (Suwanee), Steven Fisk (Stockbridge) and incoming freshman Jacob Bayer (Lawrenceville), who won last year’s Georgia PGA event at Berkeley Hills. Fisk tied for 19th in last year’s Dogwood and placed third in the recent Southeastern Amateur with a 270 total.
Colin Bowles of Albany, the 2016 Georgia Amateur champion, is also in the field along with Buford’s S.M. Lee, the state’s top junior golfer a few years ago, and Johns Creek’s Nicolas Cassidy, recently selected as Georgia’s top high school golfer for 2017.
Others in the field include Alpharetta’s Chandler Eaton (Duke), Duluth’s Benjamn Shipp (North Carolina State) and Peachtree City’s Jake Milanowski, an Auburn signee.