CULLMAN — Day one of the Emerald Coast Professional Golf Tour's inaugural Cullman Summer Pro-Am Summer Classic turned out to be more difficult than expected.
The lowest score was a 2-under par 70, achieved by both Zach Suchar from Pensacola and Nick Rousey from Cullman. Total, only five golfers scored under par and two shot even par, which surprised Suchar.
“I thought it was going to play a lot easier than it did,” he said. “I thought there would be some 66s and 67s. It’s a short golf course, but I was trying to hit the ball in the fairway. I chipped and putted really well, so that’s the only reason I played good.”
Though the scores were higher than expected on the first day, TP Country Club’s director of golf Patrick Drake was pleased that the course played harder than usual.
“I’m happy with the scores,” he said. “I wanted today to play difficult, and obviously with the scores, it did.”
In assessing the ECPGT's first time in Cullman, tour director Geno Celano thought the tournament was running well.
“Everything is moving pretty good,” he said. “We’ve been treated very well so far by everyone out here. They’ve been great to me and all the guys. For a first-year event, we’re looking forward to building this.”
Drake believes the community has mixed well with the tour.
“I think this will end up being a good fit,” he said.
With TP Country Club serving as the tournament’s host, several golfers felt right at home, including Drake, who recently won the Buck Shear Memorial Tournament.
Drake shot a 1-under 71 and said the wind was a big factor in the scores today.
“Out here, the wind on every hole is different,” he said. “It’s there somewhat every day, but I haven’t noticed it until today. It was pretty bad out there today.”
Celano said they specifically toyed with pin positions to make the course harder. He had hoped the roughs would be thicker, but the lack of rain made that difficult.
Cullman High graduate and current Troy University golfer Jake Tucker, one of the two who shot par, said he felt his first round went pretty well.
“I made a couple of mistakes toward the end, but other than that I think I played pretty good,” he said.
Tucker, current Cullman High junior Sylas Elliott and Matt Phillips are listed as amateurs in this tournament, the only three among the 18 professionals. Elliott ended day one with a 4-over 76, and Phillips shot an 88.
Local golfer Bob Kurtz scored an 80 on the first 18 holes, splitting the front and back 9 42-38.
Day two of the tournament will have a different feel as it becomes a combination of professionals and amateurs, where each professional will shoot for their individual score but also contribute to an amateur’s team score. Tucker, Elliott and Phillips will still be shooting for their own individual scores.
According to Celano, today’s course will be made easier for the amateurs joining in the fun.
Suchar originally didn’t know which amateurs he would be paired with Tuesday but later found out it was with people he regularly fishes with.
“I didn’t know they were playing originally, but I do know them so that should be fun,” he said.
Drake is already hoping to get together a committee to organize and make improvements for next year's tournament.
“I’d like to double the field and have more players and, of course, a higher purse,” he said. “In the future we want to try and get some private housing so they’re not having to stay in hotels.”
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