Meridian Star

Sports

June 6, 2014

Briarwood to host Pro-Am Classic

CLARKDALE — Local amateurs will have the chance to pair up with golfers from the Emerald Coast Golf Tour when Briarwood Country Club hosts the Meridian Pro-Am Classic next month.

July 15-18, the classic will take place, beginning July 15 with a free junior clinic and continuing July 16 with the Pro-Am. The Pro-Am will count toward the tour members' 54 holes, with the final two rounds taking place July 17 and 18.

The Emerald Coast Golf Tour is a developmental tour with golfers aiming to one day make the PGA Tour. What began as a tour on the Florida Gulf Coast more than 20 years ago has expanded to parts of Mississippi and Alabama in the last five years, tour director Geno Celano said. He also said 20 PGA Tour winners formerly competed on the Emerald Coast Golf Tour.

"We've got a lot of great players," Celano said. "I think people will be really surprised how good these guys are."

It will be the third year the tour has stopped in Meridian, and as of right now, between 30 and 40 professionals are expected to play. Celano said more could show up depending on sponsorship.

Up first will be the junior clinic, which will offer local youth the chance at free golf lessons with the hope of sparking or fanning interest in the sport.

"We've been to a lot of places where some of the high school golf isn't really that good," Celano said. "It helps teach kids some of the basic fundamentals and lets them come out and watch the pros. Junior golf is where it starts."

The Pro-Am, which is open to local amateurs for a $100 entry fee and Briarwood members for a $90 entry fee, will have a shotgun start of 12:45 p.m. July 16.

"We want to encourage everyone to come out and play in the Pro-Am if they can," Celano said.

Having the Pro-Am count toward the professionals' 54 holes allows tour members to save on overnight costs.

"We have a few (Pro-Ams in our tour) that don't count, but this one does," Celano said. "It shortens the week for them, where they don't have to shell out for an extra night in a hotel room."

The entry fee for the Pro-Am includes not only golfing, but the Tuesday night kickoff party, lunch and awards after play on Wednesday, tee package, beverages and prizes.

"It's a good deal for (the amateurs)," Celano explained.

Any spectators who wish to watch any or all three rounds of golf are welcome, Celano said. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Celano at 850-650-4319. The tournament will benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities for children.

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