A capacity of 120 entrants was placed on the field for the Chattanooga Men's Metro golf tournament, which starts Friday and goes through Sunday at the Chattanooga Golf & Country Club.
Whether motivated by wanting to win the prestigious local title, play the recently renovated course or just enjoy a couple of rounds of golf, the maximum number of participants had signed on by midweek last week.
"We've never gotten 120 golfers since we went to no flights," said Mike Jenkins, who is sharing tournament-director duties with Richard Keene. "That's a lot of golfers."
No flights means high-handicappers have the same challenge of trying to get through the first two days and be among the top 25 and ties who make the cut to play Sunday. Jenkins emphasized that although there's a large field, there's no shortage of talent. He noted that 18 of the top 20 in the local Adman Cup player of the year rankings are among the competitors.
"It's as strong a field I've seen in any local golf tournament in a long, long time," Jenkins said.
Jenkins said many of the golfers haven't had the chance to play the Riverview course since designer Bill Bergin began a restoration plan for it a few years ago. Jenkins thinks the course will offer plenty of challenges, particularly for those who make it to Sunday.
"The phrase I like to use is that it gives golfers the opportunity to use every club in the bag," Jenkins said. "I think that's really the way to identify the best player in the field."
Two-time defending Metro champion Sam Bedwell, who recently completed his eligibility at Lee University, said No. 11 was changed from a long par-3 to a drivable par-4, although he cautioned it's a "risk-reward" hole with a pond in front of the green.
Other modifications included the extending some of the already longer par-4 holes. Bedwell, currently third in the player of the year rankings behind leader Matt Robertson and Brandon Cissom, said that has brought some bunkers into play that many "used to fly." He also said there are several tree-lined holes that can spawn trouble.
"It's the type of golf course where if you can hit the fairway, you can go really, really low," Bedwell said. "Anything can happen when you start missing the fairway.
"For the most part I think you're going to have to shoot 1 or 2 under [par] every day, depending on wind or rain. It's par 71 out there. I'd probably take three straight 69s and see where that puts me."