Milton Martin Honda Classic
Where: Chattahoochee Golf Club, Gainesville
First round: Play begins at 7:30 a.m. today
Past winners: Brandon Brown (2011), Travis Bertoni (2010), event was rained out in 2012
Notable: A junior clinic will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday. ... The awards ceremony is schedule to begin at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Chattahoochee
Competitors will have to deal with more than one challenge in the Milton Martin Honda Classic this weekend at the Chattahoochee Golf Club.
The fourth installment of the event on the National Golf Association Tour, two steps below the PGA Tour, has 172 golfers in the talented field primarily composed of former college standouts looking to claim their share of the $200,000 purse up for grabs.
Chattahoochee director of golf Rodger Hogan says that the top 65 finishers, and any tied after the final round at 65th, will take home a check. The cut for the winner stands at about $28,000.
To make for more challenging golf for these young pros, Hogan says that the course has been lengthened to add about 100 yards, starting with moving the tee box back on No. 9 about 50 yards, in order to keep players from being able to shoot over the top of the trees on their first shot.
With a well-played tee shot, players in the past were left with a lob or sand wedge on the second shot that resulted in a high number of birdies on the par 4. The par-5 13th was also lengthened about 50 yards and will likely cut down on the players reaching the green with two putts left for birdie.
“The course is in great shape right now and we’ve had lots of positive feedback from the players,” Hogan said. “The greens are very firm and fast.”
The final element that all the players will have to contend with in Gainesville is the chance of bad weather. Even though Thursday’s first round should be completed with sunny skies and the temperature unseasonably cool in the upper 40s, the final three days should be less tolerable.
Starting Friday, there’s a chance of rain and highs around 50-55 each day, which is expected to last through Sunday’s final round. Hogan feels like the weather will adversely impact the players, if it holds up as predicted.
“The weather’s something that we’ll keep an eye on hour by hour this weekend,” he said.
Holding a professional golf tournament also brings a beneficial economic impact to the community with golfers spending nights in local hotels, eating in restaurants and spending money at retail establishments in Hall County during their stay.
Hogan said that the NGA estimates that each event on its tour generates approximately $200,000 for the host site’s local economy.
The prize pot is generated by a combination of entry fees and corporate sponsorships at Chattahoochee.
Previous winners at the Milton Martin Classic are Travis Bertoni (2010) and Brandon Brown (2011). The event was rained out last year.
The NGA Tour is one step below the Web.com Tour (formerly Nationwide Tour) in the hierarchy below the PGA.
Already this season, there have been four different winners in each of the events already contested with 19 scheduled for this season in its Pro Series throughout the southeast.
In the most recent event, Riley Wheeldon took home a one-stroke victory after carding a 70 on each of the final three rounds at the Kandy Waters Memorial Classic on Sunday at the Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Club in North Augusta, S.C.