Mitch Hufstetler Completes Sweep of Senior TPC Events – Wins Senior TPC 1-up Over Tom Baird

Mitch Hufstetler Completes Sweep of Senior TPC Events – Wins Senior TPC 1-up Over Tom Baird


Bob Gary, Contributing Editor,

Bob Gary


The 2014 Chattanooga TPC Senior final wasn’t the first time this year that Mitch Hufstetler and Tom Baird went to the wire.

Back in August, Hufstetler birdied the 36th hole to edge Baird for the Brainerd Invitational Senior title. Oct. 5 at Council Fire, Hufstetler watched Baird lip out a birdie putt at the 18th, then two-putted himself for a 1-up victory and the TPC senior crown.

Hufstetler’s win capped a perfect TPC season – he won senior championships in the Signal Mountain, Cleveland, North Georgia and Brainerd invitationals; the Chattanooga Men’s Metro and, finally the TPC.

“There really are no words,” Hufstetler said. “I managed to play some pretty good golf at pretty good times. Very fortunate, and Tom’s such a class guy.”


2014 Senior Champion Mitch Hufstetler
(You Name It, He Won It)

When Baird birdied the first and fifth holes for a 2-up lead, it looked as though he might well extract a measure of revenge for Brainerd and deny Hufstetler his slice of local golf history.

“And I missed a couple of makeable putts in there,” said Baird.

Having spent his whole season in or near leads, though, Hufstetler stayed cool.

“Just keep pluggin’, keep playing,” he said. “I was hitting it fair, hitting some good shots – and then I made a really good putt at seven.

“When that one went in,” he said, “I thought, ‘OK, game on.’”

That putt, from about 25 feet above the hole, gave Hufstetler a birdie and his first win of the day. He then won the eighth with a sporty up-and-down to pull even.

After halving the ninth, Hufstetler took his first lead with a win at the 10th. He promptly gave that hole back at the 11th, though, where his drive hit the cart path and rocketed out of bounds.

The same sequence played out again at 13 and 14 – Hufstetler won the par-5 13th, but missed a short par putt to drop the par-3 14th.

The two halved the 15th, but Hufstetler got what turned out to be the decisive win at the 16th – he lipped out a long birdie putt that he called “one of the best I ever hit.” It didn’t go in, but it was good enough when Baird failed to get up-and-down from just short of the green.

Faced with a gut check at the par-3 17th, Baird center-cut a 10-footer to stay in the match. He needed another win at 18 to extend the match again, but just missed from 40 feet.

“I just didn’t play from the fairway enough today,” Baird said. “Mitch is a very good ball-striker; you can’t give him holes because he’s sure not going to give you very many.

“He’s a worthy champion and, hey – I’m 60, so if I’m still upright when I’m done playing, I’m pretty happy,” Baird said.

His perfect TPC season complete, Hufstetler’s only problem now is what to do with all the stuff he’s won.

“I’ve got about 13 dozen [golf balls] and about 26 gloves – not counting the five or six in my bag,” he said.

What he probably doesn’t have is more shirts.

“Cleaned out the closet last spring and got rid of probably 60 – but I still had 30 or so,” Hufstetler said. “So my wife says, ‘If you bring home another shirt ….’”

Lake Johnson Wins Chattanooga TPC

Lake Johnson Wins Chattanooga TPC


Bob Gary, Contributing Editor,

Bob Gary


So how would you celebrate if you’d just won your area’s most prestigious amateur golf title?

 “Making up homework,” said Chattanooga Christian School senior Lake Johnson, who missed some class time to play in the Chattanooga TPC, which he won Oct. 5 at Council Fire.

 “I’m a little behind, but it’s worth it,” he said.


2014 Chattanooga TPC Champion
Lake Johnson

In the morning semi-final match, Johnson held off a rally by Men’s Metro and Brainerd Invitational champion Matt Robertson for a 2-and-1 win. Then, that afternoon, Johnson broke fast and eased to a 7&5 win over Heritage High School junior Ben Rebne in the first TPC title match to feature two high-schoolers.

Rebne got to the final with a morning semifinal win over former Men’s Metro champion Cody Godfrey (6&4).

Next up for Johnson – the Tennessee Junior Cup matches, Oct. 18-19 at The Grove in College Grove, TN, then, in November, making formal his commitment to play his collegiate golf for UT-Chattanooga and Coach Mark Guhne.

Guhne would doubtless have liked what he saw of Johnson in the title match – birdies on five of the first six holes and a 3-up lead. For the 12 holes he played in the final, Johnson was 5-under-par.

“Ben hit it in there to about a foot at the first hole,” Johnson said, “and then I hit it to about two feet. That gives you a lot of confidence.”

In the semi-final, though, Johnson came closer to stubbing his toe than he did at any point in the championship. He was 4-under-par and 4-up on Robertson through 13, but then dropped three straight holes – he failed to get up-and-down from just off the green at the par-3 14th, lost the par-4 15th to Robertson’s birdie and lost the par-4 16th when his approach found a hazard.

“I’d hit some loose shots and gave 16 away,” Johnson said, “but I’d played well all day, I was still 1-up, and I know that, in golf, things can turn around as quickly as they can go south.”

That’s what happened at 17, where Robertson conceded the hole and the match after misfiring from the tee.

“[Council Fire’s] a hard golf course, and I played really well today,” Johnson said. “I’ve been working really hard, so it’s nice to see it come together.”

The First Tee of Chattanooga Long-Drive Contest on Tap

The First Tee of Chattanooga Long-Drive Contest on Tap


Bob Gary, Contributing Editor,

Bob Gary


Matt Robertson estimates that his haymaker tee shot is good for about 325 yards.

 But he said all 325 is likely to get him in the inaugural Chattanooga Long-Drive Competition presented by The First Tee of Chattanooga is a word of thanks for coming out.

Distance-wise, “I’m probably not in the top five in the area,” said Robertson, the reigning Chattanooga Men’s Metro and Brainerd Invitational Champion. “There are some guys who are a good deal longer than I am.”

The competition begins with qualifying on Saturday, Oct. 4, and Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 9-11, with the finals set for 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16. Qualifying and the finals are set for The First Tee of Chattanooga’s facility at 2453 Hickory Valley Rd.

The finals will be broadcast live on WGOW-FM’s SportTalk radio show. Mike Jenkins, chairman of The First Tee of Chattanooga, said Thursday, Oct. 16 will be much more than just a long-drive competition. For one thing, he and SportTalk co-host Gary (Dr. B.) Haskew will go head-to-head in a 9-iron closest-to-the-hole shootout – and cash prizes will be awarded to a lucky backer of each contestant.

“We will have activities for folks of all ages and abilities. For example we’ll have a straight-drive contest, a glass-breaking contest like they do on [The Golf Channel’s] Big Break and a putting contest,” said Jenkins, who added that a hamburger cookout is also set.

“We really want to make that Thursday something much bigger than just the finals – more like a festival, with the long-drive competition at the center of it,” he said.

The competition is open to all – professionals and amateurs alike. Senior (at least 55 years of age on Oct. 16) and women’s long-drive competitions are also scheduled. Pre-registration isn’t required, but is recommended; a form will be posted soon at

Qualifying participants will get three shots for $10 and may enter twice. A player’s longest drive – provided that drive stays in a 40-yard-wide fairway – will be recorded.

The top four qualifiers in the main draw, as well as the top two seniors and top two women, will make the Oct. 16 finals. The winners will get trophies – and will see their names engraved on a plaque that will be on permanent display at The First Tee of Chattanooga.

But whose are those names are likely to be? Jenkins said the winner of the main draw is probably going to be “someone we don’t know.”

Among area players who might bear watching, he said, are Brandon Cissom, Keoni Vidrine, UTC basketball legend Brandon Born, Council Fire member Cres Dodd, who “hits it stupid long” – and Robertson.

As he downplayed his own chances, Robertson talked up Cissom, Matt Crowder, David Watts, Logen Killen, among others, and Matt Hadden, with whom he teamed to win the Tennessee Golf Association’s Four-Ball title two years ago.

“Matt can hit it 40 yards past me,” Robertson said. Told that that would put a Hadden bomb in the 365-yard range, Robertson said evenly that “I’ve seen him hit multiple balls that long.”

“I don’t know whether I can compete, to be honest,” Robertson said, “but I’ll come out because it’s for The First Tee [of Chattanooga]. They do so much for golf, so whenever I can help them out, I will.”


Bogey Keys Greer’s Mid-Am Triumph

Bogey Keys Greer’s Mid-Am Triumph


Bob Gary, Contributing Editor,

Bob Gary

Tennessee Mid-Amateur Championship Leaderboard


It’s unlikely that Ryan Greer’s ever been as happy to make a bogey as he was Friday afternoon at The Honors Course.

With a birdie at the par-4 12th, the 32-year-old Knoxvillian took a one-shot lead in the final round of the Tennessee Mid-Amateur Championship. He scuffled around the green at the par-4 13th, though, and found himself needing to make a 10-foot putt just to save bogey.

He coaxed it in, which kept him in a tie with second-round leader Kevin Watford of Franklin, TN. Greer later bested Watford in a playoff for the title.

“When that [bogey putt] went in, I thought, ‘OK, I’ve got a chance,’” Greer said. “If I make double [bogey] there, it’s probably very different.”

Greer fired a 1-under-par 71 in the final round for a three-day total of 4-under-par 212. Watford, who’d opened with consecutive 69s, closed with 74. Greer and Watford finished two shots clear of Memphian Matt Cooper and Craig Smith of Nashville, each of whom posted final-round 69s. Tim Jackson of Memphis, a six-time Tennessee Mid-Am titlist, was briefly tied for the lead in the final round, but faded and finished fifth.


Josh Nelms, who closed with 70, was the low Chattanooga-area player at 221, 5-over-par. Other area players who made the 36-hole cut were Cleveland’s Brandon Cissom (74-224), Patrick Williams (77-228), Richard Spangler (79-230) and Richard Keene (82-232).

Watford started the day with a three-shot lead on Greer and Jackson. Watford briefly led by four and made the turn at even-par for the day, but lost ground – Jackson had crept to within one, while Greer was two back. With bogeys at 10 and 11, Watford fell into a tie with Greer and Jackson.

“Three-putted them both,” Watford said. “I was trying to make some birdies and get some distance.”

Greer inched ahead with his birdie at 12, but was tied again with Watford after the bogey at 13. Meanwhile, Jackson bogeyed 13 and 14 and couldn’t recover.

Greer dropped another shot, and fell one behind Watford, with a bogey at the exacting par-4 15th. At the par-3 16th, Greer missed the green and faced a ticklish downhill pitch. His ball slid eight feet past, but he made the comebacker to stay just one behind Watford, who had a good look at a birdie but missed.

“I thought that if I could get to 17 no more than one back, I still have a chance,” Greer said.

At the par-5 17th, Greer ripped a nearly 300-yard drive dead center, leaving him barely 200 yards out. His knocked his 5-iron second on the green and two-putted for a birdie that brought him even with Watford.

Greer’s approach to the home hole left him with a 15-foot birdie putt that would have given him the win. It burned the edge, though, and he settled for par and a playoff with Watford, who salvaged par at 18 from behind the green.

In the playoff, at Honors’ par-4 first, both players’ tee shots left them a bit more than 100 yards out. Greer hit his approach “exactly where I wanted” and had a 25-foot birdie putt. Watford, though, left his second well short of the green.

“I was between clubs and just didn’t commit to the shot,” Watford said.

Watford’s pitch left him an eight-foot par putt. Greer cozied his birdie putt, tapped in his par, then saw a dream come true when Watford missed.

“Back in 2006, one of my best friends, Bill Roach, and I made it to the final of the State Four-Ball,” Greer said. “We lost, and I told Bill that it was my dream to win a [Tennessee Golf Association] championship one day.

“I just can’t believe it was this day, and on this course,” he said.

Nelms got to 4-under-par for the day with an eagle at the par-5 11th, but then bogeyed 12, 13 and 14. He got one of those shots back with a last birdie at 17.

“I just haven’t played a ton this year,” said Nelms, who’s in the process of moving his young family back to Chattanooga from Spring Hill, Tenn. “I’ve got a six-month-old [child], the move and work. I mostly just hit balls. It’s been a while since I’ve been over a 10-foot putt that meant something.”

Ryan Greer2014 Tennessee Mid-Amateur Champion
Ryan Greer

Robertson Coasts to Metro Title, Hufstetler Senior Champion

Robertson Coasts to Metro Title, Hufstetler Senior Champion


Bob Gary, Contributing Editor,

Bob Gary

Adman Scoreboard

The 2014 Chattanooga Men’s Metro Amateur golf championship had at least a couple of things in common with June’s U.S. Open.


For one thing, both championships were conducted on Donald Ross-designed courses – the Open at Pinehurst No. 2, and the Metro at Brainerd Golf Course. And for another, the final rounds of each were almost completely devoid of drama.


German Martin Kaymer led the Open by five heading into the final round and won by eight. Matt Robertson started Sunday’s Metro finale only one clear of rising UTC sophomore Brooks Thomas, but quickly got separation and wound up coasting to his own eight-shot win.


The Senior Division, on the other hand, had drama to spare. It looked as though Mitch Hufstetler’s win streak in Chattanooga TPC events would be snapped at three, but he was there to pick up the pieces – and that fourth straight title – when four-time Metro champion Pat Corey faltered at Saturday’s final hole.


Robertson posted Sunday’s best round, a 4-under-par 66, and finished three rounds at 12-under-par 198. Thomas (73 in the final round) finished second at 4-under-par 206. Jay Potter (73), Keoni Vidrine (68) and David Watts (68) tied for third at 208.


On Saturday, Hufstetler tacked a 70 onto his opening 69 for a 1-under-par 139. Corey, who opened with 67, closed with 73 for 140.


Robertson actually got his first bit of cushion from Thomas, who dropped three shots in the first four holes. Robertson then hit the gas, making four straight birdies and padding his margin to nearly double-digits.


Robertson’s pursuers got a fleeting glimmer of hope at the turn. The leader caught a terrible break at the par-4 ninth, where his tee ball came to rest against a stick. Moving the stick would have caused the ball to move, and a penalty, so Robertson did what he could to advance the ball. His second came up short of the green, made bogey, and Thomas made birdie to get two shots back.


Then, at the 10th, Robertson stubbed his toe to the point that he faced a 14-foot par putt. He poured it in, though, and effectively resolved the issue.


“I just tried to keep sticking to my routine [after the early bogeys],” Thomas said. “You never know what could happen, but [Robertson] played solid.”


Robertson said going so quickly from a one-shot lead to nearly lapping the field necessitated a change in approach.

Matt Robertson

2014 Men’s Metro Champion Matt Robertson


“All I tried to do was just play the shot I had in front of me,” he said. “Just play those shots, play each hole, and make them come and get me.”


Robertson, who works in Brainerd GC’s shop, celebrated his win by clocking in for the rest of the day – “Hey, he was off the last two days,” deadpanned shop manager Edwin Prichard.


Robertson readily conceded that his affiliation with Brainerd GC made his triumph there all the more sweet.


“It means a lot,” said the 33-year-old Meigs Co. native. “There’s more pressure on your home course, but I have a great job here and play with a lot of good guys. And the golf course – guys who’ve been here 30 years were telling me that they’ve never seen it better.”


Having added his Metro win to prior senior wins in this year’s Cleveland, Signal Mountain and North Georgia invitationals, Hufstetler is now just a Brainerd Invitational victory away from a sort of “Senior Slam” – victories in all five Chattanooga TPC events, and all in his first year in the 55-plus crowd.


Aon Miller


But don’t think that translates to anything even vaguely resembling pressure.


“This ain’t pressure,” he said. “This is fun. If you can’t have fun playing golf, you shouldn’t play.”


Turning for home on Saturday, Hufstetler birdied the 10th, 11th and 13th holes but still couldn’t quite catch Corey. Standing on the 18th tee, Corey led Hufstetler by two. When Corey found trouble left off the tee, Hufstetler thought he still had a puncher’s chance.


“I’d hit it left Friday, so I knew it’d be tough for Pat to make par,” Hufstetler said. “I thought that a birdie would give me an outside shot.”


But Hufstetler not only didn’t have to go extra holes, but wound up with the outright win.


“I hated it for Pat, because he’s a very good player who’s won a lot of tournaments,” Hufstetler said.


Unforgettable Week In D.C. For ‘Pretty Excited’ Mansfield

Unforgettable Week In D.C. For ‘Pretty Excited’ Mansfield


Bob Gary, Contributing Editor,

Bob Gary

When I last wrote about golf, Trent Mansfield hadn’t been drawing breath very long.


It’s been 16 years, in fact, since I last worked alongside my friend Sam Woolwine at the former Chattanooga Free Press. I was fortunate enough to cover everything from 62-year-old Ira Templeton’s sweltering 36-hole Sunday march to the 1986 Chattanooga Men’s Metro title to my boyhood idol Richard Keene’s Men’s Metro and Brainerd Invitational double in 1995.


So, yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve written about golf. Thanks to Mike Jenkins for letting me get my hand back in here at, and for suggesting a piece on Trent, a rising senior at Boyd-Buchanan who won’t soon forget the round he played in late June at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.


Trent was one of 18 players from various The First Tee East Territory chapters selected to play Congressional in the Quicken Loans National’s Monday pro-am, sponsored by Perfect Sense Digital. Trent’s been in The First Tee of Chattanooga program for a decade or so now, and was nominated by Kathleen McCarthy, executive director at The First Tee of Chattanooga.


“I got an e-mail in early June from [The First Tee’s] home office congratulating me,” Trent said. “I couldn’t believe it, to be honest. I was pretty excited.”


Anyone in Trent’s situation would have wanted to go to Congressional with his ‘A’ game. Trent did, having shot 70 at Moccasin Bend just a couple of weeks prior and winning Chattanooga District Golf Association Junior Tour event.


So he was ready when his team, which included a Special Olympics athlete and brand-new PGA Tour professional Oliver Goss, started the select-drive tournament Congressional’s par-4 fifth hole.


Despite coming to rest in the gnarly rough, Trent’s drive was his team’s best. Then, from 140 yards, he snuggled a pitching wedge – “I had a jumper,” he said – to just a foot away.


The next hole, a par-5, was even better. The team again chose Trent’s drive, and from there the Chattanoogan rifled a 4-iron onto the green. One 65-foot bomb later, he’d made eagle and was 3-under-par for the first two holes.


The team went on to shoot a 16-under-par 56 – and finished fifth. With fivesomes all over a course set up for the world’s best players, the pace of play couldn’t have been fast – but Trent said the day flew by.


“Never played a course like that,” Trent said. “It was cool getting to play with Oliver; he’d just turned pro, and Congressional was his first pro-am. He was almost as excited as we were.


“And because he’d played at Tennessee, we were able to talk about some of the courses we’d both played, like The Honors Course,” Trent said.


There was more golf – Trent and his fellow players from The First Tee got in a round at the Country Club of Fairfax in Fairfax, Va., and took on the storied mini-golf course at Woody’s Golf Range just outside D.C.


“That,” Trent said of the mini-golf, “didn’t go so well.”


The First Tee players also visited Perfect Sense Digital’s headquarters, toured the Smithsonian’s Natural History and Air and Space Museums, visited the U.S. Capitol and attended the first round of the Quicken Loans National. Trent said he followed Tiger Woods that day, but not for very long.


“Maybe an hour,” he said. “I’d seen him before, and I can’t really relate to him all that well.


“I like to watch guys on the range, because you can watch 10 different guys at once and see how they go about their business,” Trent said.


Back home, Trent went about preparing for the Chattanooga Men’s Metro Championship, which is set for July 11-13 at Brainerd GC, his home course. He and his Boyd-Buchanan teammates will spend a chunk of what’s left of their summer break playing nine-hole qualifying rounds to get ready for the 2014 City Prep League season.


But that week in Washington, representing The First Tee of Chattanooga, will stay with him for a while.


“Early on, The First Tee is about learning the game,” he said, “but it’s much more than that – you learn the Nine Core Values and what those really mean.


“Then, as you get older, you get opportunities like the one I just had. It’s anyone’s dream to walk inside the ropes, play a course like Congressional with your own caddie and next to players you look up to as being the best.


“Very few people get to enjoy that,” Trent said, “but I got to because of The First Tee. I’m very fortunate.”

Volunteer Opportunity for Drive, Chip, and Putt on Saturday, July 26

From:  Dori Paschall, Regional Director Chattanooga, Tennessee Golf Foundation

On July 26, 2014 our region will host local qualifying for the Drive, Chip, & Putt Championship, an exciting grow the game initiative for kids ages 7-15 supported by the USGA, PGA of America, and The Masters Tournament Foundation.

If you have watched the Golf Channel over the past few months then I am sure you have heard about it. Here is a neat promotional video as well –

I am seeking volunteers to help this day run as smoothly as possible. There will be 200 kids and their families on-site at The First Tee of Chattanooga Player Development Complex (Hickory Valley Rd, Chatt.). The day will run from 8:30am until about 4pm, therefore volunteers can choose to work all day, morning shift, or afternoon shift.

Lunch, refreshments, and a DCP cap are provided.

PDF flyer with additional details – click here ==> DCP Volunteer Flyer

Let me know if you would like to be a part of this exciting event!


Dori W. Paschall

Regional Director, Chattanooga
Tennessee Golf Foundation
736 Market St., Suite 317
Chattanooga, TN 37402

Mobile: (615) 584-5839