By Rory Sharrock
One doesn't need any excuses for a springtime visit to Lake Oconee, but as an added incentive, spectators can enjoy three rounds of competitive golf during the 27th-Annual Georgia Mid-Amateur Championship at Cuscowilla on the beautiful waterfront beginning today through Sunday, May 18.
The field of 144 players vying for the crown features three local competitors including David Maddox, Dave Womack and Michael Standard, all of which are close friends who play at the same club and reside in McDonough.
This event is 18 rounds of stroke play with the field being cut to the low 70 and ties after 36 holes.
Tee times for these McDonough citizens begins at 12:30 p.m. with David Maddox playing alongside John Cochran of Duluth and Matt Oxford of Rocky Face.
"My goal is to try to finish in the top 20," said Maddox, who was a collegiate golfer at Cameron University in Lawton, Okla. where he was a part of a championship team. "I've been playing pretty well. I want to have fun and enjoy the good golf I've been playing. I want to be able to hit the ball and keep up with the younger guys. It's just a privilege to represent Henry County and do well with the flat bellies."
Later, at 1:30 p.m., Dave Womack joins the party when he plays with Adam Thomas of Baxley and Jeff Knox of Augusta.
"I'm looking forward to the tournament this week. I've been working hard on my game. I have been struggling a little bit like all golfers do from time to time, but I really feel like my game is getting better," said Womack. "Cuscowilla is in great shape and it should be a strong tournament. There are so many good players in the field from all over the state and it will be a tough test. In my opinion, Georgia ranks as one of the strongest states in the nation among Mid-Am players.
The local flare concludes at 1:50 p.m. when Michael Standard competes against Christian Raynor of Kennesaw and Tevis Upton of Douglasville.
"I've been trying to prepare for the past six weeks. I played in some recent tournaments, but this is the first big individual event for the season," Standard said.
"I feel like I'm prepared. My game is coming around slowly, but I hope my game peaks this week. I've been playing this event since I was 25 and I'm 42. My goal is to win. I've come close before with some top 10 and top five finishes. I'm out for a win this year."
The picturesque Cuscowilla course on Lake Oconee will play at 6,730 yards and a par 70 for the Mid-Amateur Championship. There are two par-5 holes where players will be on the look out for eagle putts on No. 2, which plays out to 525 yards and No. 14, which is the longest hole on the course, setting out to 614 yards from tee to green.
"This course demands good iron shots because the greens are difficult," Maddox added. "They're almost like a turtle's back. They're crowned and shaved all around the greens."
Entries for this championship were open to male amateurs age 25 and older as of May 16 who belong to a Georgia State Golf Association club. There were a total of 451 players that entered this year's championship - 29 exempt and 422 non-exempt. Non-exempt players competed in one of six statewide qualifiers held in April for the remaining 115 spots in the field.
Fans seeking to keep track can log on to www.gsga.org for daily results with live hole-by-hole scoring during Sunday's action.