Emerald Coast Tour pro Jake Grier chips his ball onto the 16th green at Emerald Mountain Golf Club Monday. Photo by Cory Diaz
Emerald Coast Tour pro Jake Grier chips his ball onto the 16th green at Emerald Mountain Golf Club Monday. Photo by Cory Diaz

Pro golfers hit Emerald Mountain

Published 5:43pm Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Major championship caliber golf swung through Wetumpka Monday afternoon.
The Emerald Coast Pro Golf Tour played a 9-hole mini event, sponsored by SouthernLINC, at Emerald Mountain Golf Club in front of its Summer Championship tournament at Montgomery’s Arrowhead Country Club.
“These guys are on the cusp of being on the big tour, the PGA Tour,” SouthernLINC Business and Government Sales Director Michael Smith said. “We have guys out here that played that have missed U.S. Open qualifying by one shot.”
From the course being closed for more than a year to hosting a pro event on the back nine, Emerald Coast Tour Director Geno Celano said he and his players enjoyed Emerald Mountain.
“The guys in my group I played with today absolutely loved it,” Celano said. “It looks like they’re working hard to get this place back. If you look at the layout itself, you know this place is going to be something special in a year or two.”
Smith, a Wetumpka native, said SouthernLINC’s ultimate goal is to bring a pro tournament to the city by 2016.
“There’s a master plan here that I would like to see happen,” Smith said. “The master plan is bring some recognition to the city of Wetumpka, of just what all we have to offer here. This has been a great community, not only to me growing up, but now my family’s here; this is an awesome community to live and play in.
“Our goal is to be able to sponsor a full-blown pro event here in 2015 or 2016, to bring people in that will help our local businesses flourish with the money brought in.”
Wetumpka’s location falls within the range of Emerald Coast’s normal stops, and Celano said he’s always looking for opportunities to expand into new areas. The reality of putting on a pro event at Emerald Mountain depends on the planning.
“Starting early, getting a gameplan together, getting people in the community involved,” Celano said. “Having Michael at SouthernLINC involved is tremendous. It’s close to the Emerald Coast Tour, so we’d definitely want to come back, it could be next year or the following year. We don’t know. Today was a great one-day event.”
In his first professional start, Montgomery native Brandon Godwin won the 9-hole event posting a 33. Chase Blaich, Daryle Sager and Hunter Hamrick tied for second with a 34.
Bringing a golf tour whose alumni include two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson and PGA pros Boo Weekley and Heath Slocum was important to SouthernLINC, Smith said.
“I just wanted to bring something to this community that people can one day be watching tv and say that guy played in Wetumpka,” he said. “We like to try as a company put our money back into the community that helps support us.”

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