David Ray fires a shot from from the first fairway during the finals of the Bill Davis Northwood Invitational July 7, 2019 at Northwood Country Club. Ray, along with partner Alex Weddington, won the championship flight last year.

The annual Bill Davis Tournament at Northwood Country Club is set to begin Friday with a different format than in recent years. 

Instead of a round robin style, with the winners of each flight facing off in a shootout for the title, the popular golf event will operate under a bracket style where participants will be divided into eight-team groups. Each two-person team will compete against one other team per round.

After each team plays their qualifying round Friday, they will be split into groups by similar scores. For example, the eight-lowest scores from qualifying will make up the first bracket, with the first round consisting of the No. 1-ranked team competing against the No. 8-ranked team, the No. 2-ranked team competing the No. 7-ranked team, and so forth. 

The first round will get underway Saturday, with the final two rounds taking place Sunday, which will include both a championship and consolation draw. All rounds will be 18 holes, and there will not be a tournament-concluding shootout. 

“The format is a really fun format. You get to play against a bunch of different people. It’s going to be a great weekend,” Northwood golf pro Kyle Carpenter said. “It had gone to that round robin style the last couple of years, and when I came on I realized they had done two different styles, so I asked people which format they liked better, and most of the people said they liked the bracket style better.”

The change in format is also the result of precautions the country club is taking in response to COVID-19, Carpenter said. Instead of a shotgun start for the round robin setup, the bracket style allows for separate tee times so participants can arrive throughout the day and crowding is minimized.

So far, 45 teams have registered out of 48 available spots. Carpenter said members are enthusiastic about the tournament, and are looking for some familiarity this holiday weekend.

“The people have been really happy, and it shows with almost a full field. I think people are excited to play golf,” he said. “I really think people just want to feel somewhat normal, and anything we can do, being a golf club, to bring that feeling, all the better.”

The qualifying round kicks off at 8 a.m. Friday, with Saturday’s quarterfinal beginning at 8:30 a.m. and Sunday’s semifinal starting at 8:30 a.m. before the final round gets underway around 2 p.m.

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