The Southeast Region kicked off its 2014 spring season at Jack Nicklaus designed Achasta Golf Club in Dahlonega, Georgia.
The course was playing about 6,400 yards, had a rating of 70.5 and a slope of 128. First round play on March 1st was a bit nippy for the morning but warmed up for most players' back nine. Day one consisted of a lot of birdies, sub four-hour rounds, and a score in the 60s. We had eight schools and one individual Danny Schuster) from Georgia Southwestern State University compete in our first event. Clemson, Georgia, South Carolina, the Professional Golfers Career College, Georgia Tech, Emory, The Citadel, and Kennesaw State were among the participants. Georgia was coming off two wins in the fall of 2013 and looking to continue their streak.
After the first round, James Stanofski (PGCC) was our lone man in first with a 69 (-3). There was a three-way tie for second as Rhoades Sturkie (Georgia Tech), Matt Barth (Clemson), and Ethan Lambert (Georgia) all shot 71 (-1). Georgia had a 10-stroke lead (372) after day one, with Clemson coming in second (382).
Championship Sunday was supposed to be warmer, with the first group going off at 8:04am. As the sun rose and got hotter, so did the play from Kyle Putkonen (PGCC) who fired a 69 and Ryan Walker (South Carolina) who was the second round low man with 68. Matt Barth then came into the clubhouse moments later with a 72 and it looked like he would walk away with the glassware until Rhoades Sturkie walked in minutes later with a 72 as well which only meant one thing: PLAYOFF!
We all headed to #18, the 402-yard dogleg right, which couldn't have been a better playoff hole with water all down the right, houses and trees down the left, and a really tricky, undulating green. Barth's tee shot flirted with the water but landed in the fairway. Sturkie's tee shot was way left and would take an incredible shot to get to the green. Barth would have a long putt for birdie as Sturkie would most-likely need an up-and-down to halve. Both ended up with bogey 5s and would head to hole #10, a shorter par 4 with water down the right and a river down the left that was guarded by trees. Sturkie left himself a 20-footer for birdie as Barth had a five-footer for par. As Sturkie left it to tap-in distance, it was up to Barth to extend the match, but he did not convert. Rhoades Sturkie would take the Medalist trophy and earn himself the NCCGA Player of the Week.
Georgia ended up winning the team event by 18 strokes with Clemson coming in second for the third straight tournament. Georgia would continue their win streak and will try to defend again in six weeks at Cobb's Glen.
The tournament ran very smoothly, and very fast-paced. The round lengths were phenomenal. The staff was incredibly helpful, accommodating, and a blast to work with. We look forward to coming back here one day. What a great start to the semester and congratulations to the University of Georgia (739) and Rhoades Sturkie (143).
Nikos Pavlis is the NCCGA Southeast Regional Coordinator. He can be reached via email at NCCGASoutheast.com or on Twitter @NCCGASoutheast.