But in the end, it was well worth it.
After shooting a 6-under 65 on Sunday in the Dub Ellis Invitational, Calvert watched Piedmont native and last year’s champion Jeremy McGatha tie him for the clubhouse lead in the championship flight. McGatha, who managed a 6-under 65 on Saturday, shot 1-under 70 on Sunday to tie him with Calvert at 135. That forced a sudden-death playoff back on the 18th tee.
On the playoff hole, Calvert pushed his tee shot right. It struck a tree branch and received a fortunate lie in the rough. McGatha was also right off the tee.
Both players smartly played their approaches in to the low side of the sloped 18th green. However, neither player reached the putting surface.
McGatha was first to go, and his birdie putt ran through four feet of fringe before finding smooth grass. McGatha marked his ball after it came to rest just inside three feet.
Calvert chipped straight at the stick from the fringe. His ball rolled to a stop a foot from the hole, where he tapped in for par, leaving things in McGatha’s hands.
McGatha’s putt caught the edge of the cup and lipped out, giving Calvert his first championship on the Cherokee County course.
“It was kind of tough sitting there for an hour waiting on everybody,” said Calvert, who is the general manager at the Boaz Country Club. “Trying to hit the first shot was a little nerve-wracking. I didn’t want to win it the way I won it on a missed putt, but I’ll take it.”
McGatha said in hindsight, when he left the ball short of the green, he should have chipped instead of putted.
“Usually I make some putts, but I missed a bunch of short ones,” said McGatha, who had won two of the last three invitational titles before Sunday. “Sometimes your bad putt is better than a decent chip, and I just tried to putt it. It was about 8-foot of fringe. It was ridiculously slow.”
“It’s disappointing. I wanted it for sure. I always do. I haven’t really won anything this year, and this was my last chance to defend a tournament. I fought hard, but just come up short.”
Calvert, who shot 1-under 70 on Saturday, said he had only played the Cherokee County course twice, and admitted it was his first victory “in a while.”
“It hasn’t sunk in. It’s still new,” he said. “I’ve lived in New Orleans for 28 years and I’ve been up in this area for the last 14. It’s a good feeling to get back into the game.”
Jeremy Willis took third place in the championship flight with a two-day total of 136 (69, 67). Skylar Dennis and Austin Henderson tied for fourth at 138.
Jake Minnix claimed the first flight after firing a two-day total 140 (71, 69). Mark Jason Green came in second at 142 (74, 68). Clay Stephenson was third at 144 (73, 71) and Lee Morgan took fourth at 146 (75, 71).
Taking the second fight was Jeremy Rieger, who shot a two-day total 147 (77, 70) and won over runner-up Kim Nichols (76, 71). Keith Randall was third at 149 (77, 72). Mike Granato came in fourth at 150 (76, 74).
Scotty Grimes won the third flight after a two-day total of 153 (79, 74). Mason Dennis finished a stroke back at 154 (79, 75). Jonathan Harris took third at 155 (80, 75). Clay Jones claimed fourth at 156 (80, 76).
Brad Coley claimed the fourth flight at 164 (86, 78). Shawn Snow came in second at 166 (86, 80), followed by Ricky Hairston in third at 166 (85, 81) and Terrance Turner in fourth at 169 (84, 85).
“It was a successful tournament,” club manager Steve Baker said. “It was the most competitive championship flight we’ve had in years. Scores went from 64 to 70. We had 18 people shoot under par the first day of the tournament. We had 110 golfers (play both days), and 125 signed up. We only lost 15 because of the weather. Considering our conditions, it was a great tournament.”
Baker gave his appreciation for the country club staff for their help in hosting the event.
“The past two days have been a lot of work on everybody,” he said. “Jake Minnix in the pro shop, Amber McFry and Angela Nichols are the people who helped. David Garrett has done a tremendous job on the course. It’s in great condition. We probably had two inches of rain, and the course held up great. It speaks very highly of David and his crew.”