The area’s amateur golf calendar got a much-need infusion of excitement with the recent announcement of a new stroke-play event.
The Singing River Classic, a 54-hole event, will showcase three of the area’s premier public golf facilities and give competitors a supreme test of their ability.
Blackberry Trail in Florence, Cypress Lakes in Muscle Shoals and the Fighting Joe course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at the Shoals in Ford City will serve as host sites for the tournament. Organizers are hoping for a full 120-player field for the tournament, scheduled for June 28-30. Cost is $165 per player.
The tournament is a collaborative effort between the head professionals at each course. Scott Arndt (Cypress Lakes), Jason Vaughn (Blackberry Trail) and Will Fisher (RTJ) came up with the idea in an effort to generate a buzz for local golf.
“It’s something I have kicked around in my head for a while,” Arndt said. “We all worked together at one time, and we got together for lunch one day and came up with this. Hopefully it will generate interest in the game and it’s also a way to showcase the courses and the area.”
There are no restrictions on who can enter. Players do not have to reside locally and the tournament will be flighted, so players of all skill levels will compete against players of similar handicaps or ability.
“We have some really good public golf in the area and it will be great to see everybody playing these three courses,” Arndt said.
Vaughn, the former golf coach at the University of North Alabama, said the Singing River Classic fills a certain need for golfers who have seen the number of stroke-play events dwindle.
“It allows amateur golfers to have another event to play in and test themselves,” he said. “It’s also a chance for players from outside the area who don’t play here a lot to see that we have great golf courses in this area.”
“It’s not only the really good golfers who like to play in stroke-play events,” Fisher said. “Even guys who are in the 10-to-20 handicap range, which makes up a large portion of those who play, want to compete head-to-head to see how they stack up. It’s our goal to make it a competitive event. We also want to make sure it is fun.”
All three said it was important to make sure the entry fee was affordable. In reality, the $165 entry fee is a bargain when compared what it costs to play a round at each course.
The first round will be played at Cypress Lakes on June 28. The second round shifts to Blackberry Trail on June 29, with the final round scheduled for Fighting Joe on June 30.
Plans are in the works for a Saturday night pairings party ahead of the final round and organizers hope the tournament will become a sanctioned Alabama Golf Association event in which points will be awarded to the winner.
“We’re trying to get a lot of good amateur players,” Arndt said. “There are a lot of high-caliber players in this area and we’d like to see them play.”
Tournament organizers hope to keep the tournament on the same weekend each year.
To enter or find out more information, go to rtjgolf.com/trail/. Go to the shoals site from the drop-down menu. At the bottom of the page there is a section for events. You can enter online or print out an entry form and return it to the RTJ pro shop. For information, call the courses at 256-740-8825 (Blackberry Trail), 256-381-1232 (Cypress Lakes), or 256-446-5111 (RTJ).