Local amateurs gearing up for shot at The Honors Course

Joe Avento • Jul 17, 2019 at 5:01 PM

The Tennessee State Amateur is being played at The Honors Course this year and that’s always a treat for every golfer fortunate enough to qualify.

The Honors has been the site of such prestigious events as the U.S. Amateur, NCAA Championship, Curtis Cup and U.S. Mid-Am.

Blackthorn Club will be the site of a local qualifier on July 31. There are 22 players listed on the tee sheet at Blackthorn, and if that’s the final number of entries when they tee off, they’ll likely be playing for four spots in the field.

The 104th State Am is set for Aug. 6-9. It will be the fourth time the State Am is held at the Pete Dye design in Ooltewah. Rex Kuramoto, a former East Tennessee State All-American, won the first one held there in 1989.

The Honors Course is dedicated to the honor of amateur golf. All the tournaments held there are amateur events.


In this day and age of $500 drivers, Tony Green is bucking the trend.

Green, who won the Senior Division at the Ridgefields Invitational last weekend, did it with a 22-year-old Orlimar driver.

“I just hit it solid and I hit it pretty straight usually,” said Green, whose final-round 69 gave him a six-shot victory. “I’m not long, but I’m not short.”

The 67-year-old Green has won four Tennessee Golf Association events, most recently the Super Senior Match Play Championship. And he’s done it all with the Orlimar. It’s the third version of the club that he’s used. He caved the face in on two of them and a friend, Jim Gott, gave him the one in his bag now. It’s been in play for six years.

All of his competitors notice the club as soon as he pulls the head cover off. When someone joked that he might get $17 for a trade-in for his club, he said “That would be a good deal if I could get it.”

Green has used the club in every competitive round other than two at the U.S. Senior Open when he was told it might be illegal so he didn’t bring it. After he missed the cut, he got home and had a message from the USGA that the club was indeed legal.

“That was the only time I haven’t used it in serious golf,” he said. “I’ve tried some other drivers, but I didn’t hit them any farther or any straighter.”


William Nottingham’s final-round 64 at Ridgefields gave him the tournament scoring record of 19 under par for 54 holes, but it wasn’t even the most impressive round he had this month.

Nottingham shot a 59 at Ridgefields in a casual round — a very casual round. He smiled when telling the story, almost looking sheepish.

“We were on the lake all day and I came out with my brother to play late in the afternoon,” Nottingham said. “I still had my bathing suit on.”

Yes, he shot a 59 in his bathing suit.


Kingsport’s Isabella Van Der Biest is in the field at the 71st U.S. Girls Junior Championship.

Van Der Biest, who will be a junior at Dobyns-Bennett this year, made the field by finishing third at the sectional qualifier in Cartersville, Georgia.

The tournament starts Monday at Sentry World Golf Course in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. After two rounds of stroke play, the 156-player field is cut to 64 for match play.

Van Der Biest also qualified for the PGA Junior Girls Championship by winning the Tennessee title. She missed the cut by one stroke in the tournament held last week at Hartford, Connecticut.


Volunteer High School golf coach Lucas Armstrong, who finished second to Nottingham at Ridgefields, has assumed the lead in the race for the Tri-Cities player of the year. Nottingham is second.

Mike Poe, the basketball coach at Volunteer, has a big lead in the Senior Division. Cary Daniels is second.

Points are accumulated through the five-event Tri-Cities Amateur Tour with bonuses for performances in state and national tournaments. The final local event, the Lonesome Pine Invitational, is this weekend.