MARIETTA, Ga. – In a year that included many dominating performances, Colin Bowles of Albany, winner of the Centennial Georgia Amateur Championship, was selected as the Tommy Barnes Award winner, signifying the Georgia State Golf Association’s overall player of the year for 2016. Bowles was honored at the GSGA’s Player of the Year Luncheon, held at Cherokee Town Club in Atlanta on January 21, 2017.
The Bowles victory made him the youngest ever to win the Georgia Amateur Championship since the very first winner 100 years ago, and that was a 14-year-old boy named Bobby Jones.
The award’s namesake, Tommy Barnes of Atlanta, was one of Georgia’s legendary amateur golfers. Among his many accomplishments, Barnes captured the 1941 Georgia Amateur Championship, won the 1947 and ’49 Southern Amateur titles, qualified for 16 consecutive U.S. Amateur Championships and played in the 1950 Masters Tournament. In 1989, at age 73, Barnes shot 62 to break Bobby Jones’ 67-year-old record at his home course, East Lake Golf Club. He also had a long history of service to the GSGA and other golf associations, and was a member of numerous Halls of Fame. Barnes passed away in 2007 at age 91.
In honor of this special gentleman, the GSGA established the Tommy Barnes Award in 1983-84 to recognize its Men’s Player of the Year. Beginning in 1998, the Tommy Barnes Award was given to the annual overall player of the year.
Six other golfers received GSGA Player of the Year distinction and were honored during the luncheon. Players of the Year are annually awarded in seven categories: Men, Women, Junior, Girls’, Senior Men, Super Senior Men and Senior Women.
Men’s Player of the Year: Chris Waters, Atlanta
Chris Waters of Atlanta had an impressive season on the GSGA circuit, earning him his first GSGA Men’s Player of the Year award. His year was highlighted with a win at the 28th playing of the annual Georgia Public Links Championship at Cobblestone Golf Course in Acworth. The win was his second in three years at the event. Waters advanced to the round of 16 at the Centennial Georgia Amateur Championship at Capital City Club-Brookhaven, and tied for fifth at the Georgia Mid-Amateur Championship at Augusta Country Club. He made it to the semifinals of the Atlanta Amateur Match Play Championship at Rivermont Golf Club in Johns Creek, and partnered with Billy Mitchell of Roswell to earn a runner-up finish at the Georgia Four-Ball Championship at Glen Arven Country Club in Thomasville.
Women’s Player of the Year: Janet Mao, Johns Creek
Janet Mao of Johns Creek earned her first GSGA Women’s Player of the Year honor after many top finishes in 2016. Mao was runner-up in the Georgia Women’s Amateur Championship (conducted by the Georgia Women’s Golf Association), and tied for runner-up honors at the Georgia Top 60 Women’s Classic at Laurel Springs Golf Club in Suwanee. The Northwestern University golfer also advanced to the round of 64 at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship.
Junior Player of the Year: Colin Bowles, Albany
Colin Bowles of Albany had a special year in 2016 with his victory at the Centennial Georgia Amateur Championship. Celebrating its Centennial, the state championship changed formats to match play in honor of its first champion – 14-year-old Bobby Jones – 100 years ago in 1916. The event was held at Capital City Club in Atlanta, host site of the inaugural championship, where the 16-year-old Bowles became the youngest winner since. Bowles won five matches in three days.
Girls’ Player of the Year: Louise Yu, Duluth
Louise Yu of Duluth turned in a terrific 2016 campaign highlighted with a win at the Georgia Women’s Match Play Championship at Sunset Hills Country Club in Carrollton. Yu tied for fifth at the Georgia Women’s Amateur Championship (conducted by the GWGA) and also placed fifth at the Georgia Top 60 Women’s Classic at Laurel Springs Golf Club in Suwanee. She finished fourth at the Georgia PGA Junior Championship.
Senior Men’s of the Year: Doug Hanzel of Savannah
Doug Hanzel of Savannah had another dominant year in 2016, earning his fifth-straight GSGA Senior Men’s Player of the Year award. Hanzel partnered with Jack Hall of Savannah to repeat as champions at the Georgia Senior Four-Ball Championship at Spring Hill Country Club in Tifton. He finished third at the Georgia Senior Championship played at The Legends at Chateau Elan in Braselton. On the national scene, Hanzel advanced to the round of 16 at the U.S. Senior Amateur and qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.
Super Senior Men’s Player of the Year: Bill Leonard, Kennesaw
Bill Leonard of Kennesaw put together a successful season with multiple titles to his name, giving him the GSGA Super Senior Men’s Player of the Year honor. Leonard won the Georgia Super Senior Championship at Heron Bay Golf Club in Locust Grove and also the Georgia Super Senior Four-Ball Championship (with partner Don Marsh of Johns Creek) at Sunset Country Club in Moultrie. He advanced to the round of 16 at the Georgia Senior Match Play Championship at Horseshoe Bend Country Club in Roswell. In USGA competition, Leonard qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur.
Senior Women’s Player of the Year: Laura Coble, Augusta
Laura Coble of Augusta continued her storied amateur golf career in 2016 by winning her third-straight GSGA Senior Women’s Championship at Houston Lake Country Club in Perry. On the national circuit, the Georgia Golf Hall of Famer advanced to the round of 16 at the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur. This is her first GSGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year award, but has been named the GSGA Women’s Player of the Year a record 14 times.