When Cody Godfrey deftly birdied the 18th hole at The Honors Course on Monday, he had every reason to believe his 3-over-par 75 would qualify the former Tennessee Wesleyan golfer for Wednesday's Southern Amateur main draw.
He was even planning a celebratory dinner with his daughter, Kourtlin, who turned 20 months old Monday.
But then Price Butcher tied Godfrey's score, forcing a playoff, which the reigning Louisiana Junior Amateur champion ended on the first hole with a birdie.
So the 21-year-old Godfrey is relegated to first alternate, hopeful that someone drops out before the tourney begins Wednesday morning following today's practice rounds. But unlike most of the rest of the 35 golfers who are on the outside looking in after Monday's qualifying, Godfrey is certain to walk Tennessee's finest golf course when the tourney begins, whether it be as a participant or a caddie.
"If I don't get in, I'll be caddying for my best friend, Keoni Vidrine, who qualified at Cherokee in Knoxville," said Godfrey, who regularly caddies at the Honors. "I caddied for him in Knoxville and he shot a 65. He'd have been here for me today but he's trying to qualify for the U.S. Amateur in Cleveland."
Beyond Butcher, the others who qualified for the Southern Am include Caston Roberts and Josh Wheeler, who shot 70s; Connor McKay with a 71; Dawson Armstrong, David Gies II and Lucas Armstrong with 72s; and Sam Goldasich, who avoided the playoff with a 74.
Then there's two-time defending Honors club champion Brandon Davis, who earned an exemption due to the fact his club is hosting the tournament.
A 2002 graduate of Emory University and a south Florida native -- "Fort Liquor-dale," the 34-year-old Davis joked -- he first played the Honors 10 years ago.
"Right then I thought, 'This is the greatest place I've ever been in my life,'" he said.
When the club began looking to beef up its national membership a few years ago, Davis, who's in the food service business in New York City, decided to join.
"I try to get down about once a month," said Davis, who plays mid-amateur tournaments whenever he can qualify. "It never gets old playing this course."
Monday's extreme heat and humidity quickly got old for Godfrey, who was forced to change sweaty gloves at least four times, including buying a new one at the turn -- "something that's never happened to me before," he said.
He also believes much of the Southern Am field's patience with the Honors' swift greens could get old pretty quickly.
"I thought it played harder than I expected it to," he said. "They had the greens running about 13.5 (on the Stimpmeter). That's incredible. That's flying."
That's the Honors at tourney time. This year. Any year.
But for Godfrey, a day at the Honors pretty much beats a day anywhere else, whether he's hitting his own shots or helping advise someone else how to hit one.
"My dad owns a [bull]dozing service, so I work with him sometimes," said Godfrey, who won the Chattanooga Men's Metro at WindStone in 2012. "But if I could, I'd do this for the rest of my life."
Because for those who really love golf, the Honors always will remain one of the greatest places they've ever been in their lives, no matter how many golf gloves they sweat through.
Contact Mark Wiedmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...