The par-71 layout was set up to play at nearly 6,000 yards. A well-groomed course overseen by Cherokee Superintendent David Garrett welcomed the 16 select golfers.
Garrett and his crew’s work was even more impressive as they had less than 24 hours to round the course back into shape after a storm front had dumped over an inch of rain in a short period of time.
The Challenge event endured personnel adjustments with Team Lafayette and Team Cherokee opening the first of four events that will be contest on four different courses.
The opening event was a two-person scramble with match play scoring. One point was up for grabs on the front nine and another point on the back nine. In addition, a bonus point was awarded to the team that picked up the overall win.
The match ups were as follows: Lafayette sent John Stanley and Eddie Watkins to the first tee against Cherokee’s Johnny Bentley and Terry Adams. Keith Bledsoe and Bobby Clark were Lafayette’s second team off the front side playing Cherokee’s Bobby Russell and Eddie Robertson.
Starting on the back nine were Cherokee’s Steve Baker and Kurt Duryea and the Carroll brothers, Gary and Jerry of Lafayette. Billy Mack Garrett and Wendell Pruitt were the final Centre pair that faced the Lafayette duo of Robert Brabner and Robert Gordon.
Team Match 1 Stanley/Watkins – L (2.5 pts) vs. Bentley/Adams – CC (0.5 pts): Opening on the front side the two teams carded 33s while evenly splitting 6 holes and a single point. A backside 31 by Stanley/Watkins that featured a run of five straight birdies, starting on the par 5 fourteenth hole, gave Lafayette the early team edge (2.5 to 0.5) over Cherokee.
Team Match 2 Bledsoe/Clark – L (1.5 pts) vs. Russell/Robertson – CC (1.5 pts): Cherokee’s Russell/Robertson battled Lafayette’s Bledsoe/Clark to a standoff. The Lafayette duo captured the front nine 2-1, while the Cherokee twosome turned the tide with a back nine 2-1 win. Russell/Robertson gained the split with a clutch birdie on the final hole.
Carroll/Carroll – L (0.0 pts) vs. Baker/Duryea – CC (3.0 pts): Baker/Duryea had the only sweep of the day in a nail biter. A backside start helped Baker/Duryea run out to a 3 up lead. The Carroll brothers won three of the next four but a birdie on 16 gave the backside point to Cherokee. The front side play remained even until the Carrolls birdied number seven.
Baker stuck his tee shot sixteen feet from the pin on the par 3 eighth hole. Duryea buried the birdie putt to square the front-side match.
Baker again set up Duryea with his approach on the par 4 ninth hole. Facing a 16-foot left to right breaker on nine for birdie, Duryea once again rattled home the putt leaving the Carrolls with a tricky eight footer above the hole to split a point.
Their first putt moved left and the second right. With the miss, Baker/Duryea carried three points to the clubhouse.
Brabner/Gorden –L (0.5 pts) vs. Garrett/Pruitt-CC (1.5 pts): Cherokee’s Garrett/Pruitt split a point with their backside start.
The Cherokee group won the 11th, 14th and 16th while Brabner/Gorden took 10, 15 and 17. Garrett/Pruitt gained a two-hole advantage with pickups on two and three, but gave them back on four and seven.
A ninth-hole birdie earned Garrett/Pruitt the front side point plus the overall point and Cherokee earned the win 7.5 to 4.5 over Team Lafayette for event one of four in the Challenge.