The National Golf Association’s Spring Hill Classic being played at the Spring Hill Country Club this week is not only bringing in 168 golfers from around the world, it will be making a tremendous local financial impact.
Driving into the parking lot at Spring Hill, license plates are immediately visible from Kentucky, Ohio and Texas. Todd Barbee, NGA tournament director predicts the economic impact to Tift County over the week will be in the range of $150,000 to $200,000. This is the NGA’s first trip to Tifton. Barbee said it came about through his relationship with Chris Dixon, the head golf professional at Spring Hill. “We were looking for a course in south Georgia area.”
Barbee said he was quite happy so far with what they have experienced. “The players seem to really like the course,” he said. “The staff here has been tremendous.” Turnout has been good, he said.
The first round of the tournament starts today at 7:30 a.m. Start times will be the same daily through Sunday, the final round. There was a pro-am event Wednesday, featuring 15 teams.
Spring Hill not only has players from several states, but internationally. Hitting the links are golfers from China, England, Australia, New Zealand, Serbia and two have arrived from Sweden. All are here to move up through the ranks. Barbee said the NGA is roughly equivalent to Double A baseball, with most of the 18 tournaments held in the southeast. “Most of our kids are not too far removed from college,” he said. The ultimate goal is a PGA tour card.
The tournament ends Sunday, with the awards ceremony at 2:30 p.m. Barbee said $200,000 in prizes will be awarded, with a check for $28,000 going to the winner. There has already been one winner. Ryan Brehm of Mount Pleasant, Mich. won the long drive contest Wednesday sponsored by Tenneson.
Barbee hopes that the NGA will return to Tifton next year. “We absolutely would like to make this a permanent home on the tour schedule.”
The Spring Hill Classic is open to the public, with no admission or parking fees. Spring Hill Country Club is located on Highway 82 West, two miles west of Lowe’s. For more information, call the Spring Hill Pro Shop at 382-3144.