CULLMAN — The second day of the Emerald Coast Professional Golf Tournament's Cullman Summer Pro-Am Classic didn’t go quite as smoothly as the first, due to the thunderstorms that moved through Cullman County on Wednesday.
The second round of play was the pro-am portion of the tournament, when three amateurs were paired with a professional on the course. The professional’s score counted for his own individual score, but it also went towards determining the pro-am winner.
Though most of the groups were within six holes from finishing the round, the lightning’s persistent presence forced Patrick Drake, TP Country Club’s director of golf, to call off the rest of the pro-am round.
The professionals still need to finish the round for their individual scores. Drake was constantly keeping an eye on the forecast, as well as the conditions of the greens, to see if the field could finish on Wednesday or if they'd have to wait until Thursday morning.
The final decision was for the second round to resume Thursday at 8 a.m. with the third and final round following immediately after, which might be more beneficial for the golfers.
“If you’ve been hitting good all day, it’s not a good thing to have to go back out there after a two-hour wait," professional Jimmy Brandt said. “It’s just kind of a hassle having to warm up again, having to start up again.”
Before the lightning started, the golfers were still competing in the rain, which called for a strategy adjustment. The rain brought on cooler temperatures, making it difficult for Brandt and the rest of the field to drive longer distances.
“Yesterday I hit a lot of irons on the par-5, but today I haven’t hit one,” he said.
The rain also made it harder to grip the clubs, and Brandt had to work to keep his dry.
“Everything gets wet so fast when it’s raining, and it’s tough to keep your grips dry,” he said. “I hold a towel and let go right before I’m about to swing.”
Before the lightning spoiled the round, the professionals and amateurs were mixing well in their groups. Oneonta police chief James Chapman was paired with professional David Moreland, along with two other amateurs.
He’s participated in several pro-am tournaments, and he said the pros at this one have been very friendly and helpful.
“If they see you doing something wrong, they’ll give you good tips,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun to have them.”
Chapman knew of Moreland before he was paired with him, but he’d never met him personally.
“I keep up with a lot of the tour players,” he said.
Brandt said he didn’t give advice during the round unless solicited, but he might offer them tips after.
This tournament was the only one he had participated in that put the pro-am portion in the middle the tournament as opposed to before it started.
“The atmosphere isn’t as serious,” Brandt said. “When you’re playing with all the pros, everyone is focused on what they’re doing, and with these guys, they’re trying to have a good time. A lot of guys play better in pro-ams because there’s not as much pressure.”
This is Chapman’s third tournament on the Emerald Coast Professional Golf Tour. While he’s played on golf courses all over the state, he said he’d never been to TP Country Club before, and he really enjoyed this course.
“Even though it rained, I’m going to go away with a positive look at Terri Pines, and I’m going to tell all my friends that it’s a good golf course,” he said.
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