CENTRE - With the abundance of rain throughout the spring and summer months, the Cherokee County Country Club greens are just that.
And it couldn't have come at a better time.
The annual Dub Ellis Golf Invitational is set for July 15-16 near Centre. The event hosts some of the area's premier golfers, and it's expected to once again this year.
"It's the biggest event of the year. I love it," club manager Steve Baker said. "It's one of the best invitationals around this area. We get people from Atlanta, Birmingham, Chattanooga, some of the best golfers from Alabama and Georgia."
Baker said the course is "in great shape."
"Right now we're not having to water anything, and that's been a blessing," he said. "Everything is green out here, but the grass is growing so fast it's hard to keep up with it. This is our biggest tournament of the year and we want the course to be in the best shape possible."
Ty Cole won last year's invitational title after shooting 15-under 127. He shot 10-under 61 to take a three-stroke lead over 14-year-old Fort Payne native Dawson Garrett the tournament's opening day, then fired a five-under 66 to earn the title by nine strokes over runner-up and defending tournament champion Chad Calvert on championship Sunday.
Baker said Cole has not signed up to defend his title yet, but expects he will.
"Right now we've only got 31 signed up," Baker said. "We had 72 who signed up last year and I'm expecting around the same amount.
"We've got two past winners (who have signed up) in Jeremy McGatha and Chad Calvert. Jeremy's always near the top (he won the invitational in 2010, 2011 and 2014). Chad has won it two years (2012 and 2015) and he's signed up. He usually brings a big group from Boaz. They have not signed up yet, and our Rainsville bunch has not signed up yet."
This year's entry fee is $100. Cash prizes will be awarded in all flights based on the number in flight.
New to this year's tournament will be a senior division. Golfers age 60 and over will have their own flights. Any senior desiring to compete in the other flights will be able to, but will play with the white or blue tees. Seniors ages 60-69 will play with gold tees, while 70 and older will play with the red tees.
Senior flights will pay off according to the number of entries per flight.
"In the past, the seniors had to compete against the younger guys. They did get to play the senior tees, but they were still in the same flight as the younger guys," Baker said. "This year, we're doing a special senior flight. They'll be playing either the red or the gold tees, according to their age, and they'll play it both days regardless of what they shoot. They'll only be competing against guys their age. We're hoping that gets a lot more interest from that age group."
Baker himself said he's going to try and compete in the senior flight.
"The last couple of years I have not been able to play in it, but this year I'm going to try since there's a senior flight," he said. "I'm going to try and get some volunteer help so I can do that."
Baker said there will be approximately 10-15 golfers per flight, and the cash prizes will be awarded to the top three or four places per flight.
For more information on this year's invitational, or to schedule a Saturday tee time, contact the country club at 256-927-5070.