Signal Mountain Golf and Country Club as ready as possible for annual tournament

Signal Mountain Golf and Country Club as ready as possible for annual tournament

May 16th, 2014 by David Uchiyama in Sports - Golf

Pat Rose dripped with sweat while preparing the Signal Mountain Golf and Country Club course earlier this week.

Then Mother Nature made him change his clothes.

"It was 51 when I came in this morning; then three hours later it was 47 and I had on three jackets and my rain gear," Rose, the course superintendent, said Thursday. "We need warm weather. We're all in this together, all of North America including Canada, the Northeast, the Midwest."

But it's his job to have the course ready -- from the first tee shot set to be struck by Jeff Greeson at 8:24 this morning until the final putt of the Signal Mountain Invitational drops in the cup.

Rose has done his best to prepare the course for the 100 participants entered, including a senior division for the first time in the recent history of the tournament that started in 1932.

It hasn't been easy. Mother Nature hasn't cooperated for months -- with a harsh winter and a lazy spring -- and Rose is a little understaffed with the usual cast of high school and college employees finishing or recuperating from their academic seasons.

"It's always a challenge to get a course cleaned up and greened up," Rose said. "There's a lot to work around. The goal is to get the place to wake up in time for the tournament."

Rose said the course has had at least one cup of morning coffee. But there are a few random dormant spots, leading to head professional Paul Helle allowing the golfers to lift, clean and place when in the proper fairway.

"We don't want to penalize somebody who hit a good shot," Helle said. "We're going to move it a grip-length in your own fairway."

The field in the senior division (Helle estimated about 20) will move up one set of tees from competitors in the regular division. Adding a senior division is a popular move for amateur tournaments across the state and certainly within the Chattanooga TPC series events.

"The average age of golfers is going up," Helle said. "We've got more seniors than newcomers. Once the word gets out -- and a few guys get a little older -- people will sign up and that division will grow."

The regular division includes many of the Chattanooga-area regulars, a mix of high school golfers and college golfers -- including UTC members not playing in Oregon, as well as golfers from UAB, UNC Greensboro and a recent North Carolina graduate.

Davin White of Georgia State won the tournament last year after the rain cancelled the final round. He's not back to defend his title.

"We're going to have a really strong field," Helle said. "I think people are excited to get out and play."

And see how Rose and his crew fared against Mother Nature.

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.