Honors Cup Pits Area’s Top Amateurs Against Top Professionals

By Lance Hanlin, lhanlin@golfersguide.com

Bob Collar is a competitive guy.

If you’re playing Monopoly, he’ll try to knock one of your hotels off the board. If it’s a game of pickup basketball, expect the full-court press from start to finish.

That’s why the 2011 Honors Cup has been eating at him all year.

“We should have won it last year,” Collar said. “Let me tell you, there were almost tears out there.”

Collar is captain of the 12-person Hilton Head Island Amateur Golf Association Honors Cup team. Each year, his squad of amateur golfers challenges the top 12 professionals from the Hilton Head Island PGA Chapter in six four-ball matches and 12 singles matches.

The professionals won last year’s Honors Cup by ½ a point, ending a three-year winning streak by the amateurs. Collar’s squad will get a chance to reclaim the title Oct. 22 when the 2012 Honors Cup takes place at Chechessee Creek Club.

Both teams are selected using a points system of various pre-determined tournaments. For the amateurs, automatic spots were awarded to match play champion Jordan Carpenter, four-ball team champions Collar and John Bartlett, HHIAGA amateur champion Rob Simmons and Hilton Head Open amateur division champion Jeff Wong.

The next five spots, based on points, were given to John Patterson, Benji Gecy, Gerry Pascale, Jamie Manning and

Jim Ferguson. Collar will use two captain’s picks to fill out the 12-man team.

“We take it very serious,” said Patterson, who works as director of marketing and sales at Chechessee Creek Club. “We’re all friends at the end of the day, but when we get out there, you want to say you were the winner.”

For the professional team, the winners of the six HHIPGA tournaments automatically qualify.

David Rogers of Secession Golf Club won the Professionals Championship and the Assistants Championship. Doyle Ricks of Oldfield Golf Club was the Stableford Points champion and won the Pro-Scratch event. Stuart Carrihill of Dataw Island Club won the Hilton Head Open. The winner of the Individual Match Play event will also automatically qualify.

The rest of the professional team will be based on points earned in all of those tournaments.

“We’ve got some really good golf pros in this area that play some really good golf ,” said Dolphin Head professional Matt Stewart, who is vice president of the Hilton Head Island PGA chapter and captain for the professional team. “I like our chances over at Chechessee.”

The professional team leads the series 24-4.

The amateurs won the inaugural Honors Cup back in 1984 only to see the professionals win the next 23 years in a row. The amateurs have had a strong resurgence, winning in 2008, 2009 and 2010 before last year’s close loss.
Stewart feels the close in the talent gap can be attributed to a change in the golf landscape.

“Those guys get to play as much or more golf than we do,” Stewart said. “There are some very good amateurs in this area and those guys are very competitive. Over the last few years, the golf business has changed a little bit. The golf pro maybe plays a little less golf and spends too much time behind a computer.”

Both teams have the option of staying in cottages provided by Chechessee Creek Club the night before the event. Other extras include shirts, hats, a free dinner with a surprise guest speaker, a free breakfast the morning of the event and a free lunch after the four-ball matches are completed.

Chechessee Creek Club is also providing caddies, adding to the atmosphere. 

“It’s a good thing that we’re getting the caddies because we are going to need the info,” Collar said. “You’ve got to be familiar with that course and know where to hit it to give yourself the best shot coming into the green.”

The private course is unlike any in the area, almost like a northern course with tree-lined fairways, dense woods and numerous bunkers along the fairways. Golfers can utilize their distance off the tee, but at the same time, Chechessee Creek is very much a placement course. The green complexes are considered tough but fair. It is the only Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw design in the area.

“When they design their golf courses, they try to make them look real old and traditional,” Stewart said. “The fact that not many of us pros or amateurs get to play it an awful lot is going to make for an even playing field, for sure.”

At the end of the day, the Honors Cup is all about bragging rights. The professionals are out to prove their superiority in a sport they’ve dedicated their lives to while the amateurs view it as a chance to prove themselves against the authoritative figures they regularly comply to at all the area courses.

A Ryder Cup-like rivalry has developed.

“This year, we want it bad,” Collar said. “When it gets down to those individual matches, it’s pressure-packed. That’s why we all play.”

What: 2012 Honors Cup (local event)
When: 7:30 a.m., Oct. 22
Where: Chechesseee Creek Club
The skinny: The top 12 amateur golfers from the HHIAGA take on the top 12 professionals from the HHIPGA in six four-ball matches and 12 singles matches
More information: Go online to www.hhiaga.com or www.hhipga.com


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