Nine Holes with a Georgia Champion

Apr, 24 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?

Age 7 - Bowden Muncipal Golf Course in Macon

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

Loddie Kempa - I was hitting a pitching wedge into a green and stopped it after a few bounces. He took a seven iron, hit down low and stopped it faster than my pitching wedge. He taught me how to punch shots down low and put spin on the ball.

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

3. The first famous golfer I played with was Bob Toski. I played a 9-hole exhibition match at Bowden when I was 16. Later I was the club pro at Doublegate Country Club in Albany and MacGregor Golf Company relocated from Cincinnati to Albany. I was fortunate to have all of their tour staff come to Doublegate to test new equipment. A few names included Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange and David Graham. Last, but not least, I had the honor and privilege of, not only playing with, but becoming friends with Nancy Lopez. She was an honorary member of Doublegate Country Club beginning around 1980. I was fortunate to play many, many rounds of golf with her. Not only is she a fantastic golfer, but more importantly, she is a gentle, kind person.

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

I have made 4 holes-in-one. All in tournaments and always on the wrong hole. The one double eagle I shot was on the 15th hole at Doublegate with a 4-iron for a round of 60. During a Pro-Lady at The Country Club of Columbus, the pros teed off from the ladies tees and my score was 58.

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

Ray Floyd joined DeWitt Weaver and me during a practice round at the Senior Tour Championship. I admired how he could hit the ball with such ease, no matter how long or difficult the shot. He made the bear trap look as if it was a cub trap. He was so friendly, talking to DeWitt and me the entire 9 holes.

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?

Tournament golf was second to me. Running the golf shop and taking care of the members at Doublegate was my top priority. I was hired to be a club pro, playing tournament golf took a backseat. Early on everyone beat me. I had a hard time finishing in the top ten. I was so nervous that I had a hard time controlling my swing especially short shots and putting. With age and experience, my concentration and scores improved. My thoughts became "don't make bogies, let your opponents beat themselves." My go to shot became a small fade with both woods and irons, not much roll with either to find trouble.

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

I was practicing at the PGA Senior Championship for the first time. The right end of the practice tee had an open space in between Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. I said to myself "no way was I going to that open spot." I found an opening at the other end, to the left of Hale Irwin. I completely shanked the first 5-6 sand wedge shots right across him. Luckily he did not say anything to me. Of course, I put up the sand wedge and then took out my driver.

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

The 16th at Augusta National. I would love to see how many balls it would take to skip across the pond and reach the green.

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

I have two. The first was on a Monday qualifier with all the rabbits for the Atlanta Classic in 1973. I won, but had not entered the tournament, so I did not get to play in the Classic. The second was winning the 1997 PGA Senior Club Professional Championship. It opened many doors for me in my golfing career.

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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