I just returned from the 2011 Georgia/South Carolina Junior Challenge Matches at May River Golf Club in Bluffton, SC. This was the 36th playing of these matches, making it the longest, consecutive event of its kind in the country. This match started in 1976, at Houndslake Country Club in Aiken, SC, as the brainchild of Charlie Rountree, Jr., former Junior Golf Chairman of the South Carolina Golf Association, and Pete Cox, former Junior Golf Chairman of the GSGA.
We were lucky to pull out the win by a score of 10 to 6 in the match play format, but as I told Happ Lathrop of the SCGA, it is always a tie because it’s for the kids.
The SCGA produced a pamphlet with all of the player’s names included from the 36 matches. This reads like a “who’s who” of golf in Georgia and South Carolina over the last 36 years. I can go back to 1976 when the Georgia team was represented by Bob Tway and Larry Mize, or 1980 by Davis Love, III. Obviously, I can’t name them all, but we have many GSGA, SCGA, USGA, and PGA Champions listed who represented their respective state.
This year we almost got the Grand Slam when Dustin Johnson finished runner-up at the Open Championship. He represented South Carolina in 1999 at Secession Golf Club. We already had the other 3 majors with Bob Tway and Davis Love, III, winning the PGA, Larry Mize winning the Masters and Lucas Glover (SC, 1994 and 1996) winning the US Open. We will get the Open Championship soon to claim our Grand Slam.
In addition to the players mentioned above, we have former Walker Cup members Brian Harman, Nick Cassini, Jonathan Byrd, D.J. Trahan and Matt Hendrix. Past participants Madden Hatcher, III, Jack Larkin, Charlie Rymer and Brian Harman are all former USGA Junior Championship winners. This is just a sampling of the caliber of players that these matches have produced.
When we are talking to these players at the team functions, we always emphasize their responsibility to “give back to the game which has been so good to you”. A couple of good examples of this are David Burke (Ga., 1992) who is now on the GSGA Board and works many championships, and Chris Cupit (Ga., 1995 and 1996) who was GSGA President in 2009 and 2010.
None of these players were selected for these matches. They all earned their way onto their respective team. The teams are comprised with the low 8 players from each state’s Junior Championship, so they played their way on. When we go to our Junior Championship, we know that making this team is one of the player’s major goals. What a worthwhile goal!
C. Layne Williams
Senior Director, Rules & Competitions