Hoover, Ala. (May 18, 2020) – As the country begins to reopen amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, so too does the game of golf.  It was reported last week by Golf News Hub, for the first time since March 19, golf was open for play in all fifty states.  It was not long after many individuals began to get the bug again – this includes PGA Professionals.

Forty-two players convened at Riverchase Country Club for the HMG Stroke Play Series Event #1, eager to dust off their clubs – this would be the Alabama–NW Florida PGA’s first event in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Needless to say, everyone was ready to get back to a sense of normalcy.  The typical shotgun start was replaced with tee times beginning at 9:00 AM Monday morning to avoid any unnecessary gathering.

David Hanson of Camp Creek got off to a hot start birdieing three of his first five holes before he eventually cooled off and finished at one-under on his front nine.  Eric Williamson of Shoal Creek had birdies on holes one and nine to make the turn at two-under.  He then found a small spark making birdies on two of his next four holes.  Clay Brown, also from Shoal Creek had a blemish-free front nine with three birdies.  He would finish this way after making just one bogey and one birdie on his back nine.

These three found themselves in a sudden-death playoff at the conclusion of play after finishing at three-under par – Hanson getting in by making a run of three birdies in his last four holes.  The playoff began on the par-four ninth hole where all three players played ideal tee shots.  Williamson ended up about fifty feet short of the hole for birdie while Hanson and Brown had better looks.  Williamson lagged his putt within four feet of the hole and finished with par while Brown and Hanson also two-putted for their pars.

The second playoff hole was the easily reachable par-five eighth hole.  All three players hit the fairway and went for the green.  Williamson caught some trees with his second shot and ended up about 90 yards for his third while Brown and Hanson both had simple chips to secure their birdies.  Williamson two-putted for a par and was ousted by Brown and Hanson’s birdies.

Hanson and Brown returned to the par-four ninth for the third playoff hole.  After two great tee shots, Hanson was first to play hitting an ideal second shot to about 10 feet behind the hole.  Brown rose to the occasion and knocked his second shot stiff within three feet of the hole.  Hanson narrowly missed his birdie try and Brown rolled in his simple birdie putt to seal the victory.

Mike Genovese, PGA Life Member, finished alone in fourth place.  Matt Ganshaw, David Pilkington, Todd McCorkle and Matt Luther all rounded out the tied for fifth spot.

As we ease back in to a new normal, golf feels different yet familiar.  This familiarity gives many a sense of safety and security – like things are finally starting to look up.  This event proved our lives can still feel normal even though there are still a lot of abnormalities in our day-to-day.  The Alabama–NW Florida PGA is excited to take this first step in to its 2020 season, and while it may call for change in many areas of our lives, we know the game of golf is a constant we can always fall back on.

A big thank you to Barry Hawkins, Sean Noth and HMG Accessories for their support of our PGA Professionals and the Alabama–NW Florida PGA’s 2020 Stroke Play Series.  Finally, the Alabama–NW Florida PGA would like to extend a sincere thanks to Section President, John Carney, Head Golf Professional at RCC, for helping prepare a great venue for our PGA Professionals.

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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.