LOCAL GOLF NOTES

Harwood’s help land big field for Midlands golf tournament

Special to The StateFebruary 22, 2014 

In filling out an entry form for son William to play in an American Junior Golf Association event, Bill Harwood routinely checked the “willing to help” box.

Little did he know ...

To make a long story short, his offering to assist in future AJGA events led to the Columbia area’s strongest junior golf competition in years, scheduled March 28-30 at Spring Valley Country Club.

“I never knew it would lead to this, but I’m glad I did,” Harwood said.

AJGA officials called Harwood last fall, expressed interest in a Columbia-area tournament and asked him to lead the effort. After receiving clearance from the South Carolina Junior Golf Association, he accepted.

“(The AJGA) is the way kids move onto the national stage, and it’s great they’re bringing a tournament here,” said Chris Miller, who heads the SCJGA. “We work with them on rankings and such, and as long as the kids are playing golf, we’re happy.”

A member at Spring Valley, Harwood approached general manager/director of golf Mike Birdsell, who liked the idea. Birdsell took the plan to the club’s board and received approval.

“Our field is limited to 54 boys and 24 girls, and we had entries from more than 200 for those 78 spots,” Harwood said. “The interest is amazing. The field has not been finalized yet, but we anticipate players from nine countries and 14 states.”

The field is expected to feature several state players, including Dwight Cauthen (Columbia), Lauren Stephenson (Lexington), William Harwood (Columbia) and Caleb Proveaux (Gilbert).

Most of today’s pros competed in AJGA events and Harwood noted, “Just two or three years ago, a guy named Jordan Spieth played in tournaments like this.” South Carolinians Cody Proveaux, now at Clemson, and Matt NeSmith, now at the USC, won the AGJA player of the year award in back-to-back seasons.

The tournament offers opportunities for fans, too. Harwood is seeking volunteers and would welcome sponsorships. There are also playing spots available in the March 28 Junior-Am that pairs one of the junior players with each foursome. To volunteer or receive additional information on the Junior-Am sponsorships, call the Spring Valley pro shop at (803) 788-3084 or Harwood at (803) 736-2020.

Women’s majors

The Women’s South Carolina Golf Association’s major championships are spread throughout the state and will be staged at some of the top courses, beginning with the team championship at Seabrook Island’s Crooked Oaks course March 18-19. The other majors: Seniors, CC of Spartanburg, May 13-14; Junior Girls, Columbia CC, June 10-12; Match-Play, Woodside Plantation, June 17-20; and Women’s Amateur, Callawassie Island Club, Sept. 16-18.

The one-day series begins March 11 with a four-ball format at Coosaw Creek CG in North Charleston and a stroke-play format at Moss Creek in Hilton Head. Introduced this year will be the Fun and Funky Series that features different formats. For details and the complete schedule, go online to wscga.org.

Chip shots

USC’s Katelyn Dambaugh earned SEC freshman of the week honors for her performance in helping the Gamecocks win the Florida State Match-Up last weekend. Dambaugh posted a final-round 5-under-par 67 to climb to seventh in the individual standings, giving her three top-10s this season. ... Five teams from the state – South Carolina, Clemson, Furman, The Citadel and College of Charleston – will compete in the National Collegiate Club Golf Association regional next weekend in Athens, Ga.

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