FRANKLIN – The Tennessee Challenge Cup is set for its 52nd installment, as details for the popular Ryder Cup-style event were announced earlier this week.
The Challenge Cup, which annually pits the top 16 amateur golfers in the state against the top 16 PGA Professionals, is scheduled for October 28-29 at Chattanooga Golf and Country Club.
Officials from both the Tennessee Golf Association, which selects the Amateur Team, and the Tennessee Section PGA, which chooses the Professional Team, are excited about this year’s battle for the John Deal Cup trophy.
“The Challenge Cup matches continue to be the premier year-end event on our calendar,” said Clayton Hromadka, Executive Director of the Tennessee PGA. “Years of back and forth have created a rivalry built on respect and admiration for one another.”
“The event continues to challenge every participant who qualifies and pushes them to excel in a way few other events can. For two days each year, the professionals and amateurs put aside friendships and step onto the tee with a determination that only match play can provide.”
The Challenge Cup dates back to 1968, when the amateurs edged out a 45.5-44.5 victory over the Professionals at Old Hickory Country Club.
The event came to fruition thanks to the efforts of Old Hickory amateur John Deal, Cookeville amateur Bobby Greenwood, and Cookeville professional Hubie Smith, who was president of the Tennessee Section PGA at the time.
Since then, the Professional Team has built a 30-21 advantage in the overall series, including last year’s victory at Cherokee Country Club in Knoxville. The professionals won the 2018 meeting by an 18-14 margin.
The event went to its current format in 1975, with one round each of four-ball, foursomes and singles matches played over the two-day tournament.
“There is no better way to end the season than having the best amateurs and PGA professionals go to battle in a Ryder Cup type event,” said Chad Anderson, executive director of the Tennessee Golf Association. “Our amateurs play all summer to earn a spot on the team, and this year we are excited to have Chattanooga Golf and Country Club as the host site.”
Each team is comprised of 16 players, six of which are seniors.
The Professional Team is selected using the Tennessee Section PGA’s season-ending Professional and Senior Professional Player of the Year rankings.
The Amateur Team is chosen based on the Tennessee Golf Association’s season-ending Amateur and Senior Amateur Player of the Year rankings.
Cookeville professional Bobby Nichols holds the record for most Challenge Cup appearances as he played in 37 of the first 40 installments. Knoxville native Jeff Golliher has made the most appearances for the Amateur Team, having competed in the Challenge Cup 36 times, including the past 34 years consecutively.
Chattanooga Golf and Country Club was opened in 1896 on the banks of the Tennessee River and is the oldest course on its original site in the state of Tennessee. It was designed by world renowned architect Donald Ross, and later enhanced by Bill Bergin in 2005.
This will be the first time that Chattanooga Golf and Country Club has hosted the Challenge Cup. The course has hosted 31 Tennessee Golf Association state tournaments, including the Tennessee Amateur Championship 14 times and the Tennessee Women’s Amateur nine times.
“Bruce Etter and the staff at Chattanooga Golf and Country Club will no doubt provide an experience that each participant will remember for a lifetime,” Hromadka added. “We can’t thank Bruce and his membership enough for the opportunity to come enjoy all that the world class club has to offer.”