Gallagher column: Course tough on golfers

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Keith Dorsett walked up to Country Club of Salisbury superintendant Ron Bivins on Saturday and said, “You’ve got to do something about that trap on 17.”
Bivins laughed and said, “That’s not a trap. That’s a magnet.”
Bivins turned around and was met by someone demanding to know who was responsible for the pin placements.
Bivins smiled again.
It was a tough crowd during qualifying for the 56th annual Labor Day tournament.
Because it was a tough course.
Some of the more familiar names who always dot the championship flight did not play well enough during qualifying to make it this year.
Defending champs John and Johnny Kyger did, but they had the luxury of not having to qualify. Keith and brother Michael Dorsett qualified second with Wally Eidson and Troy Beaver third. Stephen Bullock and Guy Hoskins, winners back in 2000, are seeded fourth.
Whether they were talking about pin placements or not, they battled their way into a chance for the most coveted golf title in Rowan County.

Bivins said he could’ve made the course even more difficult but quipped, “Hopefully, everyone’s enjoying it instead of taking offense.”
Bivins taking some good-natured grief about pin placements is the opposite of last year when he was getting pats on the back. Heavy rains made much of the Donald Ross course unplayable. That is, until Bivins and his crew worked day and night.
“We had the great flood last year,” he said. “All we did was try and get it clear and presentable.”
This year, the weather couldn’t have been more cooperative, Bivins noted.
“Rains have hit us to where it kept the grass growing. We’ve worked on the greens as far as speed.”
The pins were strategically placed so six holes would be tough, six about medium and six easy.
“The pins are probably as tough as a lot of them have seen, especially the members,” Bivins said.
Pin locations are pretty selective and forces golfers to place their tee shot into the pin. If they go too far, they’re in the rough. And if the rough comes into play?
“The rough is not too high, but it’s real thick and dense,” Bivins said.

Some of the qualifying scores were depressing to golfers who wanted a good qualifying score to get into the championship flight.
Last year’s finalists Ryan Honeycutt and Dusty Holder are in the third flight.
Richard Cobb and Mallory McDaniel won the tournament in 2005 and 2007.
“The odd year has been our year,” Cobb said. “We were hoping to do it again.”
They won’t. They’re in the first flight.
Thad Sprinkle and Joey Boley know the feeling. They’re among the favorites every year but in 2008, they were forced to play in the first flight.
They won the flight, so that will be the mission for Cobb and McDaniel.
Bivins said the pin placements stayed the same for all three days of the qualifying.
During the tournament?
“Next week, you’re really playing each other, not the course to qualify,” Bivins said. “So it doesn’t matter where the pins are.”
Maybe so, Ron. But what are you going to do about that magnet on 17?

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or