Southern States Four-Ball event returns

After being in hibernation for more than 60 years, the Southern States Four-Ball Championship is making its return to the amateur golf landscape.

The event, under the umbrella of the Southern Golf Association and last held in 1948, returns this fall and will be played Oct. 12-14 at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Grand Bear Golf Club in Biloxi, Miss.

The SGA announced the tournament will alternate each year between Grand Bear and the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s other nationally acclaimed course, Fallen Oak Golf Club, designed by Tom Fazio.

The event was first held in 1937 at Atlanta Athletic Club, where Charles Yates and Dick Garlington of Georgia captured the title by defeating Fred Haas Jr. and Edwin McClure of Louisiana, 5 and 4.

A unique trophy, dedicated to Bobby Jones, was given to the state winner and suitable trophies were awarded to each member of the winning team. Competition was staged at AAC’s East Lake’s No. 1 course, where Jones learned to play.

The trophy actually was a large plaque and inscribed on it were a few lines commemorating some of the things Jones had done for golf. At the base were small reproductions of the four trophies Jones won in his “grand slam” year of 1930, when he captured the U.S. Open and Amateur and British Open and Amateur.

The competition was staged at East Lake’s No. 1 course through 1941, and in 1939 Skip Alexander, father of current Florida men’s golf coach and former U.S. Amateur champion Buddy Alexander, teamed with Bobby Dunkelgerger to win the title, beating Frank Ford and Harold Hall, 8 and 7, in the finals.

No tournament was held from 1942-45 due to World War II. It resumed in 1946, again at East Lake, and in 1947 moved to the Country Club of Birmingham (Ala.).

In 1948 the format was changed to stroke play and was held at General Oglethorpe Golf Club in Savannah, Ga., where Gardner Dickinson Jr. and Preseley Thornton of Alabama shot 271 for an eight-stroke victory over Georgia’s Tommy Barnes and George Hamer.

The SGA suspended the tournament in 1949 and now, more than 60 years later, is bringing it back to life.

There will be two divisions of competition – mid-amateur (25 and older) and seniors (55 and older). Format will be 54 holes of stroke play with no cut and a field limit of 30 two-man teams in each division.

Entries are now being accepted and the entry deadline is Thursday, Sept. 23. The SGA, in a press release, said it expects to attract players from across the country, including some former Walker Cup participants and national amateur champions.

An entry form and tournament information can be obtained at the SGA website, www.sgagolf.com, or by calling SGA headquarters at 205-979-4653.

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