A Return to Southern Pines
The Mid Pines golf course remains exactly as Donald Ross crafted the course in 1921, a rarity among his masterpieces. Impeccably manicured to modern standards, Mid Pines is a classic gem that has played host to many national competitions including the 2011 SOS Championships.†Mid Pines was renovated in 2014 and the new edition is something special.
One of two Silver Medal Resorts as awarded by GOLF Magazine, Pine Needles offers character, warmth and comfort. Built in the 1950ís, this course has been meticulously restored under the watchful eye of Donald Ross aficionado, John Fought. The greens were recently regressed (summer of í16) and are nothing short of fantastic.
The three divisions of the Championship field played both courses in the 54-hole event. More than 200 members were on hand to enjoy the splendid setting, southern hospitality and sunny days.
In the Dale Morey Division, it was Hurricane, WVís Harold Payne, playing the Mid Pines course that grabbed the lead with a one-under par 71. Knotted at 74 was a group including, David Pulk, Williamsburg, VA, David Steingart, Edina, MN, Keith Decker, Martinsville, VA, Murphy Mitchell, Scottsdale, AZ, Paul Simson, Raleigh, NC, Steve Walczak, Greenville, DE and Tom Yellin, New York, NY.
The Morey Division jumped to Pine Needles for the second round where it was 2014 Virginia Senior Amateur Champion Keith Deckerís chance to claw out in front. Deckerís one-over 72 was good for a 146 total, and a two-shot lead over Keith Smith, Franklin, MA, Paul Houvner, Mill Creek, WA and Simson.
Decker, the 2016 SOS Spring Classic Champion, found the return to Mid Pines for the final 18 right in his comfort zone. Deckerís one-under finisher was good for a 217 total, four shots better than hard charging Adam Kugler, Closter, NJ, who fired a superb 2-under par 70 to close. Kuglerís 221 was enough for runner up in the championship. Alone in third was Walter Todd, Laurens, SC at 223.
In the John Owens Division, Paul Schlachter continued his dominance of the 65 and over crowd. Schlachter of Bridgeville, PA a two-time SOS Jack Hesler Champion (2014 & 2015), playing the Pine Needles course returned an opening two-under par 69. Bill Blalock, Atlanta, GA was alone in second after one round with 70. Tied for third at even-par 71 was Bev Hargraves, Little Rock, AR, and Rich Tolly, Laguna Hills, CA.
Schlachter, the 2014 Pennsylvania Senior Match Play Champion, kept his share of the lead after round two on Mid Pines with a less than Schlachter-like 76. Hargraves added a three-over par 74 for a 145 total, and a share of the lead. Blalock slipped to a 78, good for sole possession of third, heading to the final round.
The Owens group returned for the final 18 at Pine Needles and it was all Schlachter. A steady round that included two birdies, two bogies and 14 pars left him alone at the top with a one-over par total 216. Three players were tied for runner-up honors: Hargraves (221), Charlie Yandell, Cashiers NC (221) and Logan Jackson, Winston Salem, NC (221).
In the Grand Masters Division, Jared Long, Aiken, SC outlasted two time Ed Tutwiler Champion Jack Vardaman, Washington, DC for the title. Longís 230 stokes included rounds of 75, 75 and 80. Vardamanís 233 (75-76-82) was three shots better than perennial favorite Don Wood, Louisville, KY, tied at 236 with Tom Graham, Southport, CT.