“Our course is in such good shape and it’s such a good course that we could host a tournament any day,” he said on Monday during the Georgia State Golf Association’s 100-player Amateur Qualifier.
What Williams and Pinetree Country Club golf course superintendent Bret Barton said that the players who played the course Monday, should not expect to see a lot of changes when they return for the event from July 11-14.
“About a ¼ to ½ inch of higher rough,” Williams said.
Barton added, what it means to players that are familiar with the course, “We are trying to get August rough for July.”
Barton said when Layne Williams, the GSGA’s senior director of rules and competitions, saw the course last August, he said the condition of the course at that moment was what he wanted for the tournament.
“In August, the rough is much thicker,” Barton said. “The best way to get it the way (Williams) wants it will be to raise it another ¼ inch.”
One thing Williams and Barton will have to monitor is the pace of the greens. Normally, Pinetree boasts some of the fastest greens in the state for regular membership play. Williams said a typical day has the Champion Bermuda grass putting surfaces rolling at 12 or 13 on the stimpmeter, but he expects them to be a little faster come tournament time.
“(The greens) will probably get double cut and rolled every day,” Williams said.
But Barton said they would have to be careful.
“We don’t want to get them too fast,” he said.
Pinetree’s greens are undulated and it will be important for the players to keep approach shots below the hole if they expect a reasonable chance of making a birdie. Williams said even if players had only a 10 or 15-foot putt, but were above the hole, they will be putting defensively.
The course, which has hosted the Amateur three previous times (1975, ’85 and 2003) measures only 7,108 yards from the championship tees, but it plays longer because many tee and approach shots are up hill. But Williams said a pair of the shorter par 4s could be turned into upmost risk-reward holes during tournament week.
“We may move the tees up on No. 5 and No. 14 to see which players may take a chance on driving the green,” Williams said.
For the club, hosting the best amateur players in Georgia in the state’s most prestigious tournament is no risk-reward for the Pinetree membership. Williams said there is a group of 75 member-volunteers to ensure that the event goes smoothly, and they are interested to see how the best players in the state play the course.
“I expect the winning score to be between even-par and 4-under,” Williams said.
Pinetree is the only course in Cobb County to have ever hosted the tournament, and when the event begins, it will be join an elite group of clubs to have hosted the Amateur at least four times. Only eight other locations have as many or more. Savannah Golf Club, Macon’s Idle Hour Club and Coosa Country Club in Rome have hosted the most with seven. Atlanta’s Druid Hills, Augusta Country Club, and Athens Country Club hosted six, the Atlanta Athletic Club at East Lake hosted five, and Pinetree will join the Capital City Club in Atlanta with four.
As for a preview, Williams said he thinks the course will hold up just fine against the best players in the state. A few players he believes will play well include the members of the Kennesaw State golf team, which uses the course as a home base. He singled out Jimmy Beck, who won the Pinetree Intercollegiate Title in October, and who holds the course record with a 65.
Others he considered were club member Mark Strickland, who was runner-up in the 2007 Amateur.
“He knows every nook and cranny out here,” Williams said.
A third player to watch will be Dalton’s David Noll. Noll is a two-time winner of the event, including the last time it was played at Pinetree in 2003.