One of the biggest smiles at this weekend’s Greater Gwinnett Championship won’t belong to a player. It will be worn by Mike Crawford, the superintendent at TPC Sugarloaf.
After enduring some uneasy moments in February and March because of the cold weather, Crawford is pleased with the way the course will look and play for its Champions Tour debut.
“We had some challenging weather and things weren’t growing because it was cold,” Crawford said. “But the last few weeks, things have started to grow and the course is peaking at the right time. It’s amazing what two weeks of good weather can do for a golf course.”
Crawford has been the director of golf course operations at TPC Sugarloaf since it was still being designed by Greg Norman. He led the team that prepared the course for the AT&T Classic from 1997-2008 and has worked through all sorts of weather over the years, including the snow flurries of 2005.
Crawford was ecstatic when he learned another professional event would be coming to the Duluth course and couldn’t wait to show off the place.
“We are so excited to have this here,” Crawford said. “One of the things we love to do is host professional golf tournaments.”
Crawford has a team of 39 maintenance employees at Sugarloaf and is joined by 40 volunteers, many of them superintendents at other courses or industry leaders, to help prepare the course for tournament conditions.
The fairways were overseeded with rye grass (something that wasn’t done in 2008 because of the drought) and are beginning to show a nice green color. The bentgrass greens are ideal and will be rolling to an 11.5 Stimpmeter reading.
“We’ve gotten some great comments from the players,” Crawford said. “We’re set to have some prime conditions.”
Nicklaus to play in Savannah: Jack Nicklaus rarely plays competitive golf these days. That’s why next week’s appearance at Champions Tour’s Legends of Golf tournament in Savannah will be special.
Nicklaus agreed to partner with longtime friend Gary Player to compete in the Demaret Division, for players 70 and older. The two Hall of Famers will team up on Monday and Tuesday in the 36-hole portion of the tournament.
Nicklaus hasn’t participated in an official Champions Tour event since 2005.
Perhaps the only thing better than seeing Nicklaus and Player together is the price. The Monday and Tuesday rounds are free. Tee times aren’t set, but the duo is expected to play around noon.
Around the state: Don Marsh, who may have been Georgia’s best active amateur without an individual championship, took care of that issue by winning the Georgia State Golf Association’s Super Senior Championship. The Johns Creek resident shot a 1-under 143 to win by four strokes over Marietta’s Jim Kamis at the Piedmont Driving Club. Marsh has teamed with Larry Clark to win four GSGA Senior Four-Ball Championships since 2005. He had been no worse than fourth in three previous appearances at the Super Senior Championship. … Ted Fort of the Marietta Golf Center and John Tillery of Lane Creek won the Georgia PGA’s Pro-Pro Scramble at Hawks Ridge. They shot an 11-under 61 and beat Jimmy Harris and Matt Scheck of the Atlanta Athletic Club in a playoff.
Etc.: Marist won the ninth annual Boys High School Invitational at the Atlanta Athletic Club. Matt Chandler of Marist shot a 71 on the Highlands course to win by two shots. … Mike Haddick has been named general manager at Summer Grove Golf Club in Newnan. … Tickets for the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship are now on sale. The event will be May 27-June 2 at the Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course in Milton. Week-long tournament tickets are $50 for adults and $35 for students 18 and younger and adults 55 and older. Daily tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. The event features three days of stroke play for 36 teams. The top eight teams will then compete in three match-play rounds that will conclude on June 2. Georgia Tech is the host school and will fill ticket requests at 1-888-TECH-TIX.