The Georgia PGA 2014 schedule features a new tournament for the state’s club professionals, along with an interesting mix of sites for several of the Section’s most prominent events.
The new event on the 2014 calendar is the Rivermont Championship, which will be played March 31-April 1 at Rivermont Country Club and will be the first points event on the schedule.
The tournament, which is being presented by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, is one of three club-sponsored tournaments on the Georgia PGA schedule, joining the Chicopee Woods Players Championship (May 19-20) and the Championship at Berkeley Hills (July 7-8).
This will be the seventh year for the Chicopee Woods Players Championship, with the tournament played over two days and 54 holes on the club’s 27 holes before being reduced to a one-day event the last two years.
The 2014 tournament will be a two-day, 36-hole event, making this the fourth different format in the last four years. Currahee Club Director of Golf Clark Spratlin is the defending champion. He also won in 2011, the last time the tournament consisted of two days and 54 holes.
This will be the fourth year for the Championship at Berkeley Hills, with the 2013 event won by an amateur for the first time. Gus Wagoner, the son of River Pines head professional Phil Wagoner, was last year’s winner, using an eagle-birdie-birdie stretch of holes late in the final round to score a 3-stroke victory.
Rivermont, which will be hosting a Georgia PGA points event for the first time, has been the site of a number of GSGA tournaments and USGA qualifiers. Like the tournaments at Chicopee Woods and Berkeley Hills, the Rivermont Championship is open to amateurs along with club professionals.
Atlanta National will host the Yamaha Atlanta Open (June 9-10), with Pinetree making its debut as the site of the Georgia Open (July 31-Aug. 3). The semifinals and finals of the Georgia PGA Match Play Championship will be played August 18 at Peachtree GC, which was the site of the 1989 Walker Cup matches.
The last time the Georgia PGA played a points event at Atlanta National was 2003, when the club hosted the Match Play Championship, which was played under a different format than the one currently used.
After playing for a number of years at one site over three days, the tournament has returned to its previous format, with the first four rounds played at courses determined by the two participants. The semifinals and finals are played at one site in one day, with the semifinals in the morning and the championship match in the afternoon.
The Match Play Championship begins in April, with the competitors having one month to complete the first three rounds and quarterfinals. Peachtree Golf Club head professional Donn Perno won last year at East Lake Golf Club, defeating Brookstone instructor Craig Stevens in the title match.
Amateur Cory Griffin is the Atlanta Open defending champion, winning at Polo Golf & Country Club in a playoff over Marietta Country Club Director of Golf Stephen Keppler. Griffin was the third amateur in the last seven years to win the tournament.
Pinetree has been a frequent tournament site for both the Georgia PGA and GSGA, hosting the 2004 Atlanta Open, the 2012 Georgia PGA Senior PNC Championship and the 2013 Georgia Amateur.
The Georgia Open will likely have a new champion, as 2012 and ’13 winner Jonathan Fricke is playing on the Web.com Tour this year. Fricke won both tournaments at the Legends at Chateau Elan, which will host the Georgia PGA PNC Championship Sept. 29-30.
The fourth of the Georgia PGA’s “majors” will also have an exceptional host site, as the Section Championship will be played at Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside course Aug. 25-27. Sea Island GC has been the annual site for the tournament, with the event rotating between the club’s three resort courses.
Stevens won last year at Retreat, with Keppler the champion the last time the tournament was played at Seaside in 2011. Two months after the Section Championship, Seaside will again be the host course for the PGA Tour McGladrey Classic.
While the Georgia PGA has a new tournament and some outstanding venues, its members will have very little access to the state’s tour events. Three spots in each of the two Web.com Tour events played in Georgia were reserved for Georgia PGA members, but the Section will get only one spot in the 2014 South Georgia Classic in Valdosta – the state’s lone remaining event on the tour – and none after this year.
The state’s top senior club professionals will have a limited chance to qualify for the Champions Tour Greater Gwinnett Championship at TPC Sugarloaf, but that event will conflict with the re-scheduled PGA Senior PNC Championship, which was postponed from late 2013.
That tournament will be played April 15-18 at PGA GC in south Florida, the same date as the event at Sugarloaf. The state’s qualifiers for the Senior PNC will have a busy month, as the Georgia Senior Open will be played April 21-22 at the UGA course in Athens, the former host site of the Web.com Tour Stadion Classic.
Stevens, the 2013 Georgia PGA Player of the Year, won last year’s Georgia Senior Open at Chattahoochee Golf Club and was the Section’s lone participant in the McGladrey Claissc.
The Georgia PGA Senior PNC Championship will also be played at a course that has hosted a Web.com Tour event. Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown Creek, the site of the Nike (now Web.com) Tour Championship in 1995 and ’96, will host the Senior PNC Sept. 8-9.
The qualifiers from last year’s PGA PNC will have a relatively short trip to compete in the national club professional championship, which is scheduled June 22-25 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
The Volvik Georgia Women’s Open returns to Brookfield Country Club July 14-15, with Margaret Shirley looking to win the event for the fourth time. This year’s tournament marks the 20th anniversary for the event.
The biennial Peters Cup is moving to Champions Retreat outside Augusta Oct. 19-20. The Ryder Cup-style event, which matches top players from the Georgia PGA and GSGA, will add a third session to its format. The first day will consist of four-ball matches in the morning and alternate shot in the afternoon. Singles matches will conclude the competition the next day.
Other team events on the 2014 Georgia PGA schedule are the Pro-Pro Scramble (March 18) at Golf Club of Georgia’s Creekside course, the Pro-Assistant (May 27) at Athens Country Club, and the season ending Pro-Pro Championship (Dec. 8-9) at Sea Island Golf Club.