Michael Bradshaw Jr. did not face a lot of adversity on his way to winning last year’s Blount County Amateur Golf Tournament.
The William Blount golf coach led by 13 shots after three rounds entering the final day of the tournament. He finished at 6-under 280, defeating the runner-up by 14 strokes.
Bradshaw said he doesn’t expect this time around to be quite so easy.
“I think the field will be a little stronger this year,” Bradshaw said. “I’ve been practicing pretty hard on my game. Hopefully I’ll be able to repeat what I did last year.”
Bradshaw is among roughly 80 golfers slated to compete in the four-day tournament taking place at four local golf courses from Thursday to Sunday. The 72-hole, stroke-play competition has been held regularly since 1966.
It remains a staple to the Blount County golf community.
“I just look forward to it every year,” said Bradshaw, who has won the championship title twice. “It’s a good event to get people out and see all four different golf courses.”
Entries are still being accepted at the Green Meadow Country Club pro shop until Monday at 6 p.m. The entry fee is $175.
There are four divisions: championship, open, senior (55-64) and super senior (65 and up).
The tournament tees off Thursday morning at Green Meadow Country Club. It will take place at Lambert Acres on Friday, Wild Laurel on Saturday and Egwani Farms on Sunday. The diversity of venues provides an additional challenge, requiring golfers to adjust to the speed of the greens.
Bradshaw, who is a regular at Green Meadow, said he’s hoping to get off to a strong start on familiar turf.
“It’s an adjustment each day to the different golf courses,” Bradshaw said. “It’s just putting a little preparation into adapting to that change.”
One of the event organizers, Tony Hughes, has won three of the last four Senior Division titles. He said he also expects a challenge defending his title.
“We’ve got some great competitors again,” Hughes said. “We just think it’s such a challenge to play four different golf courses. It sure tests your game.”
Hughes was responsible for helping resurrect the tournament last year after it was canceled in 2017.
“It takes a lot of support from all the golf courses and a lot of help from each of them,” Hughes said. “It takes a whole group of people, not just a couple of us trying to put this together.”
A retired dentist who played in the U.S. Senior Open and the U.S. Senior Amateur in the 1990s, Jim Gillespie is also slated to compete in the tournament. He has won nine consecutive Super Senior division titles and 16 Blount County Amateur trophies overall, winning the championship division twice and the Senior Division five times.
Last year’s Open Division champion was Scott Meadows, who finished at 293 to defeat the runner-up by nine strokes.
“It’s been a big part of this community all these years,” Hughes said. “We’ve got a lot of great golfers and good competition.”