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39th annual Georgia Four-Ball begins today in Albany (UPDATES: corrects GSGA Web site for scores in 'Want To Go' to gsga.org)

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- The Georgia State Golf Association has developed an affinity for the south Georgia landscape.

For the fifth time in the 39-year history of the men's Georgia Four-Ball Championship, GSGA member teams will compete at Doublegate County Club. The 60-team tournament begins today and runs through Sunday.

"It's a championship test of golf," said Layne Williams, GSGA senior director of rules and competitions. "With Doublegate, you hit every club in your bag and you've got to hit them well."

The field is made up of two-man teams of amateur male golfers who belong to any of the 365 GSGA member clubs statewide that had the lowest combined handicap indexes. The Four-ball format takes the lowest score on each hole from the two members of each team.

"You've got somebody to lean on, so to speak," Williams said. "If you're having a bad hole, and (your partner is) having a good hole, you haven't hurt your team."

The 40 teams with the lowest score, including ties, after Saturday's round will compete Sunday for the championship, vying for crucial Four-Ball points and an exemption for the state amateur championship.

No other club in Georgia has hosted more GSGA Four-Ball tournaments than Doublegate, which has accommodated some of the top amateur golfers in the state for this tournament three times in the past nine years, the last time in 2004.

"It's nice for them to get out of Atlanta because you listen to the guys from Atlanta talking about their golf courses are a month of two behind because of the bad winter," Doublegate head golf pro Ed Everett said.

Doublegate is just coming off hosting Monday's Nationwide Tour qualifier where 153 golfers competed. Everett said the course remains in good shape, although this weekend's golfers shouldn't expect any breaks. Or maybe they should, depending on how you look at it.

"The golf course is playing real fast because it's firm," Everett said. "They're not going to get very close to some of these pins."

Several area golfers will be competing, including representatives from Stonebridge Golf and Country Club and River Pointe Golf Club. Local competitors include Bud Harrod (Americus); Spencer Davis and Craig Taylor (Albany); Ron Lee (Dawson); and Blake Canton and Dwayne Hale (Albany).

The field is wide open thanks to the Four-Ball format, making it impossible to pinpoint a favorite, Everett said.

"You can have two guys shoot 68 off their own ball and two guys shoot 73 off their own ball and the two 73s could beat them," he said. "That's hard to tell. It's just who's got the putter going. The guy with the best flat stroke is the one that's going to win it."

Past GSGA amateur champions include Davis Love; Larry Mize; Allen Doyle, who won the state amateur at Doublegate; and Bobby Jones, who was crowned the first ever amateur champion.