Over its 41 years of existence, the City Championship golf tournament at Chattahoochee Golf Club has yielded some impressive scores among its winners.
Doing so this year will be more of a challenge, as the field of 45 participants in the championship flight will have to deal with a more saturated course following the consistent rainfall that has blanketed Gainesville in recent weeks.
“It’s so wet that we’ve had limited access to mow the fairways and the roughs,” Chattahoochee Golf Club director of golf Rodger Hogan said. “The roughs are going to be a little higher than normal and a little wetter than normal. It’s going to make the playing conditions a little tougher than normal.”
To battle this setback, the course has decided to allow preferred lies on the fairway this year, which would allow golfers to move their ball to a more favorable position if conditions are not suitable to play from its original spot.
Forecasts for the weekend have the chance of rain around 30 percent. The championship flight of last year’s event was cut to two rounds, instead of the usual three.
This year’s 54-hole championship flight begins at 2 p.m. today and 11:30 on Saturday and Sunday. Three other flights begin play Saturday.
Hogan expects a highly competitive field atop the leaderboard — comparable to the NGA Tour’s Milton Martin Honda Classic, which the course hosts each spring.
“Obviously, the guys on the NGA Tour do this every day for a living, so the scores are going to be a little bit lower, but these guys can play,” Hogan said. “We have a pretty strong field of some guys that can really play.”
Unlike the Milton Martin Honda Classic, the championship flight will play from the back tees, allowing golfers to play the entire length of the course. Hogan said this was not an option during the Milton Martin Honda Classic with so many participants and limited daylight during that time of year.
History of the City Championship dates back to 1962, when Fred Powell won the first-ever tournament. Since then, the event has been played every year except 2006, when the course was closed while being renovated.
Former Georgia Tech golfer Sam Hulsey is the defending champion after winning his fifth title in 2012. He shot 70 in both rounds to finish 4-under par.
The City Championship is also a rare moment for members of the two-time defending state champion Gainesville High golf team to face off against each other on their home course. Members of the 2013 championship team that will compete in the championship flight include Times Boys Golfer of the Year and 2011 tournament runner-up Pep Brown, Grant Lasseter, Nathan Williams, Webber Wycoff and Reeves Bell, as well as alumni Parks Brown.
The Red Elephants have demonstrated recent success in the tournament. Current sophomore Spencer Ralston finished second in 2012, shooting a 145 over the two days. He carded a 71 in the second round.
Clay Hoffman and Hunter Young of North Hall are also scheduled to participate.