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Broadaway hosts Guitars & Golf benefit

Cole Swindell, a Bronwood native and country songwriter and singer, is set to headline the Guitars part of Friday’s gig at the State Theatre.

Cole Swindell, a Bronwood native and country songwriter and singer, is set to headline the Guitars part of Friday’s gig at the State Theatre.

Hot young country songwriter Cole Swindell headlines the music portion of a big weekend at the State Theatre.

Carlton Fletcher

ALBANY — When professional golfer Josh Broadaway started his Crosshanded Golf Classic, it wasn’t just about a friendly 18 holes among friends.

It was about survival in the brutal world of second-tier pro golf.

But Broadaway is doing quite fine on the Web.com Tour now, thank you, so fine, in fact, he’s using this year’s Crosshanded Classic to raise money for the American Cancer Society ... and to show all his golfing buddies from across the country how to throw a party, Southwest Georgia style.

Broadaway will play host to a record 44 teams — more than 130 golfers — Friday at Albany’s Stonebridge Country Club, then will join his golfing buddies and other country music fans at the State Theatre to hear rising stars Cole Swindell, Highway 55 and Travis Denning in a concert that will close out the day’s Guitars and Golf fundraiser.

“When I first started doing this (hosting the classic), it was about raising money to chase my dream of playing professional golf,” Broadaway said in a phone interview. “Now I’ve had a little success and I’ve got some good sponsors, so it’s cool to put on an event that will let me give back.

“It was always my dream to expand the event, to bring a musical element into it. We’re able to do that this year, and the thing has really amped up. We’ve got 44 teams, the most we’ve ever had, with guys coming from all over the country. Everything’s just grown and grown.”

Some of Broadaway’s golfing buddies on the PGA Tour — pros like Zac Johnson and Bo Van Pelt — have donated items for an auction and raffle that will increase the money the Guitars & Golf event raises for the Cancer Society. From the musical world, guitars donated and signed by country music great — and Leesburg native — Luke Bryan will be among the treasures.

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Cole Swindell spent three years on the road with Luke Bryan managing the singer’s merchandise and has written songs for “American Idol” finalist Scotty McCreery.

“I’ve had some of my friends on the PGA Tour ask if I needed them to come play in the tournament, but I told them we’re not there yet,” Broadaway said. “And I’ve made a lot of musician friends who said they’d come play in a concert. We’re going to do that at some point, but right now we just want to keep growing things like we have been.”

Swindell, a Bronwood native who’s become the next-in-line in an impressive list of go-to Southwest Georgia country songwriters that includes Bryan, Dallas Davidson and Ray Stephenson, is on a hot streak right now as he prepares to headline the Guitars part of Friday’s big day.

The Terrell Academy graduate, who spent three years on the road with Bryan managing the singer’s merchandise, has written songs for rising country star and “American Idol” finalist Scotty McCreery, for Craig Campbell, for Chris Young, for red-hot Florida Georgia Line and for his mentor, Bryan.

“Luke was already in Nashville when we met at a party at Georgia Southern (University),” Swindell said after a recent writing session in Nashville. “I met him at our frat house when he came in to change (guitar) strings. I followed his career, and during my first three years in Nashville I went on the road with him and handled his merchandise.

“I’d started writing songs, but I’d listen to stuff playing on the radio and felt my songs weren’t at that level yet. One day I played one of my songs for Luke, and he said it was a good song. That was a pretty important moment for me, to have someone I looked up to say I’d written a good song.”

The momentum kept building when McCreery said he planned to record one of Swindell’s songs — “Water Tower Town.”

“When Scotty said he was going to do one of my songs, that was my best day ever,” Swindell said. “When he said he was going to include it on his album, that was my best day ever. Then when it became a single and was playing on the radio, well, that was the best day ever.”

Since then Swindell has had five of his songs — “I’m Hungover,” “In Love With the Girl,” “Love in a College Town,” “Shore Thing,” “Shake the Sand” — recorded by Bryan. Three more Swindell-penned numbers will be on Bryan’s next album, “Dirt Road Diary,” and the Bronwood composer was invited to write with buddies Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley in Florida Georgia Line.

“Yeah, things have kinda changed for me,” Swindell said. “You can imagine how much it means to have an artist like Luke, who at this point in his career is not going to do just any song, include some of my songs on his album. Some people forget that he’s a great songwriter himself.

“But I always make a point of letting people know how fortunate I am. I got a late start in this business — I really didn’t start this music thing until I was in college — and I’ve had some really big doors opened for me. Now I know I have to take advantage.”

The doors at the State will open for everyone at 7:30 p.m. Friday, and music starts at 8:15. Advance tickets for the show, which are available at Edwin Watts Golf in Lee County and Harvest Moon in Albany, are $10. Tickets will be $20 the day of the show.

Following Friday’s big night, the State will host another musical event on Saturday: the first UBF ... Ultimate Band Fight. Local bands will play three songs each, including one original, for a prize package that includes cash and a future gig at the State.

Misplaced Shoreline, Cut & Run, Dark Head and Unbreakable Bloodline have already signed on for Saturday’s band showdown. Other bands can still enter by calling (678) 209-9661 or (229) 344-2237.