The staff and management of Big Spring Lake Golf in Albertville are hoping the success of the inaugural Marshall County Open Championship sponsored by Sand Mountain Toyota has set the tone for the event in years to come.
Eighty-seven golfers scattered across seven flights competed in the 2019 tournament Saturday and Sunday.
Ty Cole, a Hokes Bluff native who lives in Asbury, rode an impressive performance to first place in the championship flight. He fired rounds of 66 and 63 to finish with a 15-under-par 129, beating runner-up Randy Lipscomb by 12 strokes. Lipscomb carded a 141, shooting rounds of 70 and 71.
Brian Baugh took third place in the championship flight by winning a scorecard playoff. He finished with a 142 by firing rounds of 69 and 73.
“I hit it pretty good all weekend and made some putts today,” Cole said. “The golf course is in great shape. [Course superintendent Chad] Calvert did a great job running the tournament and getting the course in great shape. I don’t think anybody who played had any kind of problem with the golf course.
“To be the first one it’s pretty cool [to win], but we’re trying to grow it and get it bigger in the next few years. There’s not another tournament like this around here. I play a lot of them down south. Etowah County and Calhoun County, I play a bunch of them, but there’s nothing around here.
“There’s a lot of good golfers here, and we missed quite a few from Scottsboro that I knew would’ve come and some from Gadsden that would’ve come, but they had conflicting tournaments.
“Hopefully this is just the beginning and it will get bigger and bigger and bigger every year, and we can have a really good, marquee event for our local golf course. This ain’t Shoal Creek, but it’s what we’ve got and we’re proud of it.”
Blake Mozley starred at Douglas and played collegiately for UAB before returning home to Marshall County. He tied for third in the championship flight with a 142. He carded rounds of 70 and 72.
“They had the course playing a little tougher than normal,” Mozley said. “The pins were a little tougher than what we normally play, but for tournaments that’s what you expect. I played OK, but not as good as I’d like to.”
Mozley contributed to the committee that organized and conducted the event.
“We put a little committee together a few months ago to try to get it going, and I think it’s going to be a good thing for several years to come hopefully,” he said.
“We had about double the participation we expected, which is awesome, so hopefully word of mouth will spread. There’s some things we probably could’ve done a little different this year to make it better, but we’ll learn from that and hopefully make it grow in the years to come.”
Marc Sanderson, the head golf pro and course manager at Big Spring Lake Golf, said the original field included 90 golfers, but three withdrew before the tournament teed off.
“Individual tournaments nowadays for amateurs are really tough,” Sanderson said. “You’ve got more and more scrambles and charity things, but this is kind of unique for the county. We wanted to try to do something for Marshall County golf.
“We had the ladies, a senior division and championship through fourth flight, so all categories of players are there. Being the first one I think it’s a success, and I think we’ll build on this for the coming years. Just get bigger and better.
“We originally had it scheduled for June but our greens were a little slow coming in, so we rescheduled it to this date which worked out pretty good, a week before high school football and before college football.”
Scorching temperatures greeted golfers both days, but Sanderson said there were no heat-related illnesses.
“They’re a little drained, but everybody’s come through it pretty good,” he said. “We haven’t had anybody get sick. We’ve had a cart running around with water and ice.
“We had a couple guys in their 80s who played, and they did good.”
The event featured a $100 entry fee for Big Spring Lake Golf members and $125 for nonmembers.
First place paid $500, second place $300 and third place $200 in each division.