A Memorable Member-Guest
By Hayden Lewis, PGA / Monday, May 3, 2021
HOOVER, Ala. (May 3, 2021) – The Alabama–NW Florida Section hosted its first-ever Member-Guest event at Riverchase Country Club on Monday where twenty two-person teams of PGA Professionals and their guests competed in a Round Robin format including five flights, 27 holes and a five-hole shootout to determine a champion – it was a good day, to say the least. Back in 2020, the Tournament Committee and the Board decided to create events that would engage the PGA Member in a new way. “Most of our PGA Professionals run some type of Member-Guest at their respective facilities,” explains Tournament Director, Wade Dockery. “However, they never actually get to play in these events. Our Tournament Committee and Board have done a great job in bringing this type of event to our Section which has never been done before. Now PGA Professionals can come and play in a Member-Guest built and centered around them and their guests.”
The day started out gray and rainy as teams arrived for the 8:00 a.m. shotgun start. Teams were flighted and matches were assigned the night before at a pairings party hosted by Riverchase Country Club (four teams per flight). Teams would play three nine-hole matches, rotate within their flight and accumulate points as they played Four Ball match play – 2 points for winning the match, 1 point for tieing the match and +/- 0.1 points for winning/losing a hole (with a max of 0.5 or -0.5). The team with the best record in each flight would be declared the flight winner and move on to the five-hole Shootout. Additionally, a Wild Card team would be determined based on the next highest point total of a team not already declared a Flight Winner. The six teams who advanced to the Shootout included John Carney/Robby Cole, Andrew Brewster/Ryan Eshleman, Charlie Krenkel/Barkley Martin, Ned Martin/Brent Boyles, Gary Christian/Will Swift, and Wild Card Team Ron Stromeyer/Eric Howle.
The Shootout would take place on holes one, two, three, eight, and nine eliminating one team per hole. In the case of ties, a chip-off was used between one player on each team – the closest chip would move the team on to the next Shootout hole. The first Shootout hole is par-four dogleg right in which all teams made par initiating a chip-off. The team of Gary Christain/Will Swift missed the mark by about 20 inches on their chip to move on to the next shootout hole. The second hole, a par five, caused some trouble off the tee for Andrew Brewster/Ryan Eshleman as they found their tee shot barely hanging on in the left-side brush perched on the edge of the penalty area. Eshleman hit a fantastic recovery shot putting the team to about 25 feet off the green for an eagle. Unfortunately, Ron Stromeyer/Eric Howle found their tee shot out of bounds and were not able to recover, eliminating them from the Shootout. Brewster/Eshleman, as well as Krenkel/Martin, Martin/Boyles and Carney/Cole, were able to move on to the third Shootout hole.
For the third shootout hole, the players faced a short, uphill par three with a narrow green. Krenkel/Martin were able to hit the green with their tee shot leaving a simple 20-foot putt for birdie. Carney/Cole would follow suit and also leave themselves with an easy two-putt par. Martin/Boyles found their tee shot in the penalty area left of the green, leaving them with a tricky up-and-down for a bogey. Meanwhile, the tee shot from Brewster/Eshleman missed the green right leaving them with a tough par save. Both teams would make bogey leading to a second chip-off – it would be Brewster/Eshleman who beat out Martin/Boyles by a narrow margin of just one inch. Krenkel/Martin would be eliminated on the fourth Shootout hole after making a par on the par-five eighth hole, leaving the teams of Brewster/Eshleman and Carney/Cole to be the two remaining heading into the final playoff hole – the par-four ninth, a slight dogleg left with water hugging the entire left side of the hole.
Both teams split the fairway with their tee balls leaving relatively simple approach shots to a front-left hole location. Carney/Cole put their approach left of the flag just off the green and were left with about fifteen feet for their birdie. Brewster/Eshleman’s second shot was pulled left and found the water – the team had to take a penalty drop some 40 yards short of the green and hoped to get up and down for a bogey. They would miss their attempt, leaving the door open for Carney/Cole to clinch the title.
The Alabama–NW Florida PGA would like to extend its thanks to Section President, John Carney and the Riverchase Country Club staff for their support and hosting this inaugural event. “I think this is going to become a special event in the years ahead,” says Carney. “It gives PGA Professionals an opportunity to bring in a guest who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to play in a Section event with other PGA Professionals. It’s a chance to showcase who we are, what we are and what we do for the game of golf in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle – many thanks to all who brought a guest to begin this exciting tradition for our Section.” Additionally, a big thanks to Jon Cooley, PGA with Oakley, Corkcicle & L2 Brands as well as Marcus Neffield with Your Leaderboard for supporting this inaugural event and our PGA Professionals.
The Section schedule kicks into gear next week with the playing of the 2021 Alabama Chapter Championship sponsored by Taylormade right up the road at Hoover Country Club on May 10-11. This will be the first event of a slate of tournaments for PGA Professionals as the Section heads into the bulk of its summer tournament season.
Media Contact: Hayden Lewis, PGA – firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT THE ALABAMA–NW FLORIDA PGA
The Alabama – NW Florida PGA is one of 41 Sections that make up the PGA of America. Our Section is headquartered in the Birmingham suburb of Pelham, Alabama at Ballantrae Golf Club. Established in 1969, the Section consists of over 400 Members and Associates in the state of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. The Section exists to support its Members who are the driving force to growing the sport and business of golf.