LOXLEY, Ala. (Nov. 17, 2020) – The Team Championship was contested at the pristine Steelwood Country Club near the coast on Monday and Tuesday. A total of twenty-one two-player teams gathered for the final event on the 2020 Section schedule.
The Team Championship provides a unique format for players, using a Scramble format on the first day and a Best Ball format on the second day. Steelwood provided plenty of sunshine and refreshing weather for players as we got started on Monday. The team of Mike Genovese (Life Member) and Todd Bailey (Dewsweepers Performance Academy) got off to a great start making a total of ten birdies and no bogies in the Scramble format to post an opening 62. Meanwhile Jay McLelland (Valley Hill C.C.) and Jake Narro of the Gulf States Section were able to match Genovese and Bailey posting another 62 – boasting an impressive five birdies in a row to close out their back nine. Falling in closely behind were the teams of Troy Raybon and Garrett Powell (Inverness C.C.) at nine-under par, and Matt Sheppard and Zach Casto (Willow Point G & C.C.) at eight-under par.
Rick Gehr (Steelwood C.C.) looks on as partner Jeff Jordan (Mountain Brook Club) tees off on hole No. 12 during the Final Round of the 2020 Team Championship.
Brian Barker (Lake Forest Y & C.C.) looks on as his partner Preston Carroll (Lake Forest Y & C.C.) hits his tee shot on No. 17 during the Final Round of the 2020 Team Championship.
Jake Greer (Southern Texas PGA) tees off on No. 14 during the Final Round of the 2020 Team Championship.
The Final Round brought with it more sunshine and cool temperatures hovering around the upper forties. Players were shot gunned at 9:00 a.m. on to a firm and fast Steelwood C.C. As the day progresses so too did the wind pick up – providing an even tougher test for the field. Genovese and Bailey fought to get anything going making a single bogey accompanied by one birdie on the front nine and two spaced-out birdies on the back nine. They were able to grind out a disappointing round of two-under 70. McLelland and Narro struggled to keep up with the field, carding total of five bogies and finishing with a round of two-over par 74 – they would finish alone in eighth place. Raybon and Powell also came up short only making one birdie and shooting a four-over par round of 76. Meanwhile, the team of Jordan Debonis (The Ledges) and Section Vice President, Kevin Klein (Dothan C.C.), were three shots back going into the Final Round. The team went on a tear making three birdies on the front nine and four birdies on the back nine to finish with an impressive five-under par 67 – this was good enough to put them in to a tie for first place with Genovese and Bailey. The 2020 Section Tournament season would fittingly end with a sudden-death playoff.
Both teams would continue with the Best Ball format during the playoff. Beginning on hole No. 1 the teams of Genovese/Bailey and Debonis/Klein would ultimately make it to hole No. 4 before a winner was determined. After battling for three holes, the two teams made it to the par 5 fourth hole, which doglegs hard around a corner to a green well protected by a tributary short and bunkers short and right. Debonis and Bailey both hit perfect tee shots leaving approximately 250 yards for their second shots. Genovese also hit a perfect tee shot and was able to finish in good position about thirty yards ahead of Debonis and Bailey – he went for the green and bailed out right in the greenside bunker. Klein hit his tee shot out of bounds and elected to pick up and help his partner carry the team. Debonis chose to lay up to about 120 yards short of a flag tucked on top of a crown at the back of the green, he would go on to miss a little right leaving a tricky forty-foot putt for birdie.
Bailey contemplated whether to lay up or follow his playing partner and go for the green. He elected to go for the driver-off-the-deck shot, but pulled his ball over the green and left – leaving himself with a tough short-sided up and down for birdie out of the rough. Bailey was able to get out of jail and perfectly bounced his chip through the rough to leave himself four feet away for birdie. Meanwhile, Genovese hit an exquisite forty-foot bunker shot to the top shelf of the green, his ball coming to rest about seven feet away for birdie. Debonis was in a must-make situation, but unfortunately failed to convert. Genovese holed his birdie to seal the victory for the team.
The Alabama–NW Florida PGA would like to extend its thanks to Rick Gehr, PGA General Manager, TJ Smith and the rest of the Steelwood C.C. staff and Membership for their hospitality and service to our Members, Associates and Staff throughout the two days on-site.
A Note From Section Staff
As we close out this tournament season, it’s strange to think about how we started this year – we truly didn’t know if there was going to be a season at all. Just like much of the country, we had to adjust. Navigating extraordinary circumstances with protocols changing and unforeseen challenges almost daily, we entered into this season together and we are leaving it together. We are grateful for the opportunities golf has provided for us this year. Here’s to the 2020 season and what we have learned – we are looking forward to making more memories in 2021. We want to extend a special thank you to our Section Members and Associates for their efforts in making golf accessible during a time of unknowns, and their unwavering commitment to making our game better every day in the Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.
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.