published Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Choo Choo Invitational makes its debut today

There’s a new Choo-Choo in town.

This one is a golf tournament.

The Chattanooga Choo-Choo Invitational will begin this morning with 72 competitors from across the Southeast — and other parts of the globe — playing golf at Council Fire Golf Club for three days in a tournament where competitors can move up or down in the official World Amateur Golf Rankings.

“Hopefully it will grow,” said Council Fire director of golf Hunt Gilliland. “The thought is that it becomes one of the top amateur events in the country. That being said, it’s not going to be the Sunnehanna or the Southern Am.

“We’d like it to grow and be an event that the top amateurs would want to play.”

The inaugural field includes Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame member Tim Jackson.

“You start by inviting the best players and tell them what you’re trying to do,” said tournament co-director Chris Schmidt, who is also participating in the tournament. “If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right.”

And that includes Jackson, who is a member at The Honors Course.

“Getting Tim into an amateur event is like getting Tiger in your pro event,” said competitor Brandon Cissom. “We need a tournament like this. I’ve got friends all over the state and they just have one city tournament.

“We’re a good golf community and a big tournament like this is good for us.”

And the points count.

“We’re fortunate to be listed as a major of amateur golf [there’s way more than four] according to,” Schmidt said. “That put us on the map.”

Contact David Uchiyama at or at 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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