Up & Coming Weekly

September 22, 2020

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.

Issue link: http://www.epageflip.net/i/1291175

Contents of this Issue


Page 12 of 24

12 UCW SEPTEMBER 23-29, 2020 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM When Billy West is not prosecuting cases as the district attorney of Cumberland County, he is trying to win golf tournaments. When Gary Robinson is not building houses or working at the golf course he co-owns, he, too, is seeking victories on the links. West, 46, and Robinson, 61, have been the two best amateur golfers in Cumberland County for de- cades. ey have each won the county golf champi- onship eight times, far more than anyone else. ey will renew their friendly rivalry when the 52nd annual Cumberland County Golf Champion- ship is held Oct. 9-11 at Gates Four Golf & Country Club. Time would appear to be on West's side to eventually win the most titles since he is 15 years younger than Robinson. "I hate the fact I'm 61 and he's 40-something," Robinson laughed. "It's not a fair fight. I've enjoyed playing with Billy throughout the years. He's a great competitor and it means as much to him as it does to me. We might both say the proper things but we both want to win more than the other guy. I want to have the most titles and I'm sure he feels the same way. I need to get one or two more because I know Billy is going to." West shrugs off the age difference. "Gary is kind of ageless," he said. "He still hits the ball a tremendous long way and the rest of his game is solid. I would love to win this year and break the tie but I'm very aware that Gary may not be finished adding championships either." Robinson holds the amazing record of winning the county championship in four different decades. He won it the first year he played in the tournament in 1982. He added titles in 1987, '89 and '90. en he didn't play in the event again until 2001 and, naturally, won again. He added titles in 2002, '13 and got his last victory in '15. Five of his champi- onships have occurred at Gates Four. "I have an incentive this year to win in five differ- ent decades," Robinson said. "at's a pretty lofty goal. at would be something special. I still feel I can be competitive. I wouldn't play if I didn't think I could win." West said, "One thing that has made Gary so fan- tastic is winning titles in four different decades. He certainly has the game to win it in a fifth decade. He is one of the best senior players in the Carolinas." To reinforce that, Robinson shot 3-under to tie for third place in the Carolinas Senior Amateur Cham- pionship early in September. If West wins this year, it would give him county titles in four different decades, as well. He first played in the event in 1990 and won his first title in 1994 at the age of 19. His other wins came in 1997, 2004, '05, '10 and '11, '17 and '19. He has won five of the last 10 county tournaments including last year with a 7-under total of 209. Twice, he has won back-to-back titles. ree of his wins have come at Gates Four. He has missed only one county tournament since he started playing in them 30 years ago. at came in 1993 when he was a golfer at N.C. State and he had to play in a collegiate tournament. "I hate that I missed it," West said. "I regret that kind of broke my streak." e tournament clearly means a lot to West, who has lived in Cumberland County his whole life. "For me, this is my favorite tournament," he said. "It's always the one that meant the most to me through the years. If you win it, you are your county's champion for a year." e tournament is recognized as one of the longest running county golf championships in the state. Its most famous champion is Chip Beck, who went on to a storied career on the PGA Tour. He won in the early years of the tournament in the late 1960s. "We've always had great players, great champions and a great history," West said. "It's always been the most special tournament to me. It's been the one I've always wanted to win the most. One reason is the tournament has kind of followed me through my golf life. When I won it in 1994, I was a young 19-year-old kid. When I won it last year, I was 45 years old with a wife and two kids." West holds the distinction of winning the tourna- ment at all four public golf courses in the county where the tournament has been held. Besides the three titles at Gates Four, he has won three times at King's Grant and once each at Baywood and Cypress Lakes. For West, the tournament is about more than golf. It's about friendships made and the sense of com- munity that he feels by playing in it. "Life has changed a lot but one thing that hasn't changed is competing every year against the same group of golfers who I became very close friends with," he said. "I really believe it's the premier county championship in the state. It has a special feel to it that other tournaments don't have. "I often say when I'm in the drug store or the grocery store the week after the county tournament, everybody's going to say, 'Hey, Billy. I saw where you played well or I saw where you came up a little short.' ere's not another tournament all year where you get that kind of reaction from the public. A lot of people in the community follow it year to year and that's what makes it special." Another strong contender is omas Owen, who won the title in 2016 and has finished second the last three years. Originally, Owen had decided to skip this year's tournament because a jammed fall golf schedule caused by COVID-19 would have forced him to be away from his family for six straight weekends. "I just had to pick and choose which ones I'm playing in," he said. "It's just a matter of balancing everything between golf, family and business. "Coming in second three years in a row leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I need to get back out there and see if I can Billy and Gary a run for their money. I like my chances. I'm playing pretty well, I've just got to make more putts." Owen has won the county match play champion- ship for the last five years and is ranked among the best players in the Carolinas Golf Association. West and Robinson know that at some point their stranglehold on the tournament will end and they both feel the 31-year-old Owen may be the player to take over. 52nd annual Cumberland County Golf Championship by EDDIE SOUTHARDS Gary Robinson playing in the U.S. Amateur Fourball at Winged Foot COVER STORY Gary Robinson and Billy West

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Up & Coming Weekly - September 22, 2020