Up & Coming Weekly

September 10, 2019

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 14 of 32

14 UCW SEPTEMBER 11-17, 2019 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM COVER STORY One thing is certain about this year's 51st edition of the Cumberland County Golf Cham- pionship. New winners will be crowned in both the men's and women's divisions of the tournament. That's because last year's cham- pions, Spencer Oxendine for the men and Angelique Seymour for the women, are com- peting at the college level. Congratulations to 2018 Cumberland County Golf Championship champion Spencer Oxendine, who has good reason for being unable to defend his title this year. Oxendine, a freshman on the golf team at North Carolina State, has earned a spot on the Wolfpack's traveling team in his first year play- ing golf there. Oxendine is at North Carolina State and Seymour is at UNC-Pembroke. Both have commitments the weekend of the tourna- ment, Sept. 13-15, that will prevent them from defending their titles. But the golfers who were closest to them in the final scores all return to hopefully face a challenge that was denied last year's field when bad weather forced the tournament to be re- scheduled and cut to two days. This year's three-day event will open at Fort Bragg's Stryker Golf Course for the first time and conclude with two rounds at Gates Four Golf and Country Club. "Everybody is excited about going out to Stryker,'' said Up & Coming Weekly publisher Bill Bowman, the tourna- ment's director since 2016. "It is going to be at Stryker this year, and we hope it will be at other courses next year.'' Bowman said work is continuing to build participation in the women's division, which attracted eight participants last year. To help boost the women's field, Bowman said play was cut to 36 holes again, while adding a separate age division for more ex- perienced golfers and shortening some of the holes. "The important thing is we carry on the tradition of recognizing the best golfers in Cumberland County,'' he said. "I would say very few communities in the country can brag on the fact they've got a golf tournament that's 51 years old.'' Stryker Stryker Golf Course professional Jeff Johnson said the Fayetteville community has always been wel- come to play at the course on Fort Bragg, but adding it to the Cumberland County Golf Championship will make the course and its regular players feel like a part of the golfing community in Fayetteville. Johnson said he hopes the tournament will showcase the Stryker course and encourage peo- ple to play it and Fort Bragg's other course, Ryder. For those not familiar with Stryker, the course is a 1946 Donald Ross layout that plays about 6,625 yards normally. It features Cumberland County's longest hole, the 625-yard par-five fourth hole, which Johnson said won't play that long for the tournament. The biggest difference for golfers at Stryker will be the greens, which are Bermuda, com- pared to the bentgrass at Gates Four. Johnson said the speed of the Stryker greens will be slower than what golfers experience at Gates Four. They will also have to take grain into consideration when chipping and putting. For those who have never been to Stryker, Johnson said you head north on Bragg Boule- vard and keep going until you dead end in the Stryker parking lot on your left. There are no security gates to pass through to enter the course, Johnson said, as the Army intentionally left the golf course and the Fort Bragg Fairgrounds outside the containment area when security was tightened after 9/11. Gates Four Gates Four general manager Kevin Lavertu agreed with Johnson that moving from the Bermuda to the bent grass greens at Gates Four will require the players to make adjustments. "More than 50% of the strokes in a round of golf are taken on the greens,'' Lavertu said. "The ball reaction speed of the greens and adjusting will be key.'' He said the players who adjust the quickest will be the ones moving up the leaderboard. After a hot July, Lavertu said Gates Four is in excellent shape for the tournament. He added the course has undergone few changes in recent years and has been kept in a main- taining mode. He's hopeful the course will be dryer and not as tough as it was for last year's tournament. "The course will play a little bit shorter day one and day two at both places,'' Lavertu said. "That's just a product of trying to set the same yardage at both courses for round one and two to get a good baseline of players.'' Last year, Oxendine won the men's division with a two-day score of 74-72-146. Lavertu is hopeful this year's winner will be able to shoot from 6 to 8-under par if the weather is good. Men's Championship Familiar names were among the top con- tenders for last year's men's title, and they will return again this season to see if they can con- tinue to be among the best in the field. Gary Robinson and Thomas Owen tied for second place behind Oxendine last year, both shooting a 151 total for the two-day tourna- ment. Billy West was alone in fourth one shot New champions guaranteed in 51st CCGC by EARL VAUGHAN JR. Spencer Oxendine Stryker Golf Course has Bermuda greens, compared to bentgrass at Gates Four. Gates Four is in excellent shape for the tournament. A nn ua l C H A M P I O N S H I P A nn ua l 2019 SEPTEMBER 13 th - 15 th

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