One of my favorite new events in the Augusta area starts today. It's the second annual Columbia County Junior Golf Championship.
Golf is huge in our area, and there are other events that showcase our young players. In North Augusta, they have the North Augusta/Sertoma Junior Invitational. Augusta is the home of the City Amateur, as well as several other well-run events.
Those events are great, but Columbia County's growth has been enormous during the past decade or so, and the junior golfers in the county deserved their own championship.
In stepped Robby Watson. The head golf professional at Bartram Trail Golf Club had the idea to start the event with a terrific twist, making the championship free for all participants.
"I just wanted to put on an event that gave every kid in the area a chance to play, and the way to do that was to get sponsors and let the kids play for free," Watson said.
Bartram Trail has only been open for three years, but Watson and his staff have done a great job catering to the needs of the area golfing community. This junior event was just another step in that direction.
Last year's event was proof of two things: There was a need for an event of this kind in Columbia County, and the juniors in the area were receptive to the "freebie" thrown their way, as 140 players participated in the inaugural event last summer. That's amazing for a first-year event.
Jacob Tilton, of Evans, kept the trophy in Columbia County last year by chipping in late to earn top honors. Tilton's thrilling victory will be tough to upstage, but the field for today's event does not lack for talent. Below is a list of this year's top contenders and other tournament details.
The Columbia County Junior Championship
Site -- Bartram Trail Golf Club
Date and Times -- 8 a.m. start today and Thursday
Age Groups -- 5-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-15, 16-18 (Championship Flight)
Course Length -- 6,700 yards for Championship Flight
Alex Dye, Cody Shafer, Jonathan Lilly, Hamilton Harbin, Martin Manning, Tyler Duke, Austin Vick, Neil Bock and Ryan Sather.
Also, I rarely mention sponsors for events in my columns, but because the following businesses made this event free for all the young golfers, I thought they deserved mention: Carter Orthodontics, Southern Mechanical, Georgia Bank and Trust, Bartram Trail Men's Golf Association, Augusta Asphalt, Nassau Builders, Coca-Cola, Club Car, Electrolux, Cutie Pies and Fatz Caf.
Good luck to all the participants.
Poythress powers Dogs
At the time I am preparing this column, former Greenbrier High School star Rich Poythress and his Georgia Bulldog teammates are preparing for the best-of-three series to decide college baseball's national title.
The Bulldogs have Poythress to thank for their spot in the final. The 6-foot 3, 240-pound first baseman was 4-for-5 with three doubles, a single and four RBI in Saturday's 10-8 win over Stanford.
Poythress raised his season average to .374. He also tied Gordon Beckham for the team lead with 22 doubles and is one back of Beckham with 71 RBI. Keep in mind, Beckham is the SEC Player of the Year and was the No. 8 selection in the Major League Baseball draft. Poythress has turned the heads of some big league scouts, and Saturday's performance on such a huge stage may have vaulted Poythress into the top 50 or so picks in next year's draft.
Fortunato visits the White House
I should take a moment to congratulate county native Christi Fortunato on being a part of a national title for UGA's gymnastics team.
Fortunato and the Gym Dogs were in Washington on Tuesday to visit the White House. They were honored for winning their fourth consecutive national title. Fortunato was an honor graduate of Lakeside High School and trained at Hayden's Gym in Evans.
When you add the performances by Sarah and Rebekah Madebach in cross country and Israel Machovec in track, Georgia athletic director Damon Evans likely will continue to recruit in Columbia County.
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