Avoca Golf Classic begins Thursday

Published 8:08 am Tuesday, June 11, 2013

MERRY HILL – While a lot of golfing eyes this week will be focused on Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and other touring golf pros at Merion, Pennsylvania in the U.S. Open Golf Championship, another pro golf event will be taking place right here in Bertie County.

The 3rd annual Avoca Classic, an official event on the NGA Professional Golf Tour, formerly known as The Hooters Tour, will tee off on Thursday.

The tournament will be held June 11th-thru-16th at Scotch Hall Preserve, the acclaimed Arnold Palmer Signature golf course overlooking the Chowan River and the Albemarle Sound.

It will feature a full field of 156 professionals to be trimmed to the low 72 players and ties after Friday’s second round, with the final round on Sunday, June 16.

Other events in connection with the Classic include the Tommy Davis Nationwide Insurance Shoot-out and a Junior Clinic with instruction from the tour pros to be held today (Tuesday). Wednesday will feature a Pro-Am teeing off at 8 a.m.

“This is the third largest pro tour in the country to only the regular PGA Tour and the Web.com Tour,” said Scotch Hall Head Pro and Director of Golf, Daniel Sumerel in a telephone interview.

“The course record (low round) of 64, shot by Erik Barnes two years ago, was actually scored in an NGA event,” he added.

The Scotch Hall Preserve golf course is a par-72, 7254-yard lay-out that was recently selected as one of North Carolina’s most scenic golf courses by Triangle Golf magazine. It is the centerpiece amenity of Scotch Hall Preserve, a 900-acre waterfront community located on the Albemarle Sound and Chowan River between the historic towns of Edenton and Windsor.

There are two signature holes on the front and back,” says Sumerel.  The par-5 fifth hole on the front side, which will play 624 yards from the pro tees and the 200-yard par-3  17th hole overlooking the Albemarle Sound.

“The course will play at 7300 yards this week,” adds Sumerel. “We’ve definitely set it up to be challenging.”

The lush Bermuda grass fairways will be a spectacular panorama for the gallery to behold and after an especially wet spring the rough has grown quite thick. “My best advice to the players will be to avoid the rough this week,” said Sumerel with a smile.

The Bentgrass greens will also be fast, with a stimp reading of between 12 and 13. That’s very fast by pro golf standards.

“Like I said, we wanted to make it challenging,” said Sumerel. “It’s too early to predict the cut-line, but I’d say to be playing on Saturday and Sunday it will be somewhere between even-par and plus-two after the first two rounds.”

This week will also feature a bit of Hollywood coming to Bertie County with the professional golf debut of actor Lucas Black.

Black played an aspiring golf professional in the 2011 movie “Seven Days in Utopia” who searches for and finds his golf game.  Now he will take on that role in real life and this time the 30-year old actor will compete against the full field.

Black has built an impressive resume as an actor, with featured roles in “42”, “Promised Land”, “Friday Night Lights”, and “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” in addition to starring with Robert Duvall in “Seven Days in Utopia”.

Admission is free for all rounds and organizers are hoping for a large and generous crowd in the gallery for all four days of pro golf action.

To get to Scotch Hall Preserve take US-17 north from Windsor approximately ten miles to the intersection of US-17 and NC Highway 45. Turn right on Hwy. 45 and proceed ½ mile to Old Merry Hill Road and turn left. Proceed one mile to Avoca Farm Road, turn left, and follow the road for 3 miles to the main gate.