Nine Holes with a Georgia Champion

Feb, 01 2023

Nine Holes with a Georgia Champion

Hole 1 - When did you start playing golf and what was the name of your first “home” course?

I started playing golf at age 8 or at least walking with my dad as he and my mother and two older brothers played. I grew up at Pinetree Country Club in Kennesaw.

Hole 2 - Who was your first golf mentor or golf instructor and what is the best tip you learned from him/her?

My dad was by biggest mentor. He taught me two very important things about golf, first that tempo is the most important part of swinging a golf club, the second thing he told me was integrity, honesty. No matter what I shot it was mine and to own/post it.

Hole 3 - Who is your golf hero and have you ever met him/her? If so, what were the circumstances?

My dad grew up a Hogan fan, so I heard a lot about him, but mine was really Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus was to my generation as Tiger Woods has been to the current generation. I did meet him several times and the thing I remember most about meeting him was the way he stared right into your eyes, not a scary stare, but just a direct stare like you were the only one there. Guess that's how he had such focus on the golf course, he stared it down.

Hole 4 - How many holes-in-one? How many double eagles? Lowest 18-hole score?

I've made six holes-in-one, most of them in competition, bring the score down faster. I can only remember making a couple of double eagles. I had a couple of really nice low rounds in the finals of the 1978 NCAA II Championship. I shot the course record 65. I shot course record 62 in the opening round of the 1985 Atlanta Open. 62 is my lowest round, but I have never shot 63, only 64 and up.

Hole 5 - Who is the best player you have ever played with and what do you remember most about that round?

I grew up playing around Larry Nelson at Pinetree and I can't imagine ever playing with anyone better than him. I can't really remember anything crazy about the rounds just that he never hit many, if any, bad shots. I do remember when I was in college coming home and asking him when he was going to play in the Masters. He asked me to give him two years, this was probably 1976 or 77. Two years passed and I remember asking him again and he asked for one more year and damn if he didn't make it. Larry was a great role model for all the juniors at Pinetree and we had a lot of good young players

Hole 6 - Looking back, to make you a better player, please explain one different approach you would take regarding your practice, mental prep, course management, score?

I would develop a much better practice schedule for every part of the game, ie. putting, chipping, pitching, green side bunkers, full swing, etc. Teaching programs like Operation 36 are doing a great job of helping teaching professionals do just this. There are more good mental coaches available these days and i would definitely take advantage of their expertise on managing not only your emotions, but course management. My dad always told me fairways and greens were the only means - that was always my course management plan.

Hole 7 - What has been your most embarrassing moment on a golf course that you are willing to share?

I qualified for the Atlanta Classic in 1980 and on the short 14th hole I hit my tee shot to the left side of the fairway. There's a little creek crossing the fairway just in front of the green. I shanked three out of bounds and proceeded to make a 10. I buddy of mine, Randy Moseley, was caddying for me and when we made the turn he told me I needed to shoot 36 on the back to break 90. I didn't - I shot 92.

Hole 8 - Suppose you were down to the last hole of your golf career, which hole would you want to play and why?

I'd like to finish on the 18th hole at St. Andrews. I not only love the St. Andrews golf course, but I love the little town. It's golf history. It's one of my favorite places on the planet.

Hole 9 - What is your most meaningful tournament win and why?

I think winning the State High School Championship in 1975 ranks right up there. It was played on my home course, Pinetree Country Club, and it was a really windy day and scores were really high. I think me and Jack "Beaver" Hall were the only ones who broke 80 and ended up in a playoff. I probably should have lost, but we went to the third hole and I remember hitting my second shot up by the water cooler and getting up and down and he three putted.

Honored to be endorsed by the Georgia State Golf Association.

“The GSGA applauds the efforts of Joey Kaney to highlight the wonderful accomplishments of so many golfers from around the state through his Mr. Stat website. More importantly, we appreciate Mr. Kaney’s interest and desire to preserve tournament results and records which showcase Georgia’s rich history in the game of golf.” ———-——- Matt Vanderpool - Chief Executive Officer - Georgia State Golf Association

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