FRANKLIN – The Tennessee Challenge Cup is set for its 51st 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 16PGA Professionals, is scheduled for October 22-23 at Cherokee Country Club in Knoxville.
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 Cup matches continually prove to be the most exciting event on our calendar,” said Clayton Hromadka, Executive Director of the Tennessee Section PGA. “The camaraderie that each of the participants experiences is tough to match in any other event.”
“While the camaraderie is certainly enjoyable, that doesn't eliminate the intense competition that goes on once they tee off,” Hromadka continued. “I always enjoy watching the matches unfold as the players on each side give everything they have for their respective teams.”
Chad Anderson, the Executive Director for the Tennessee Golf Association, added, “Cherokee Country Club will be a great setting for this special event. Not only does it give our players the chance to compete on an outstanding golf course, but it is also great for hosting social functions for the event in their clubhouse. It will be a lot of fun for those who qualify."
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 29-21 advantage in the overall series, though the Amateurs have won six of the last eight meetings.
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.
The Amateurs won last year’s showdown at The Honors Course by a 14-9 margin as the round of foursomes was cancelled due to inclement weather.
"Amateurs in Tennessee play in our Championships and local invitationals throughout the year to make this team,” Anderson said. "There is a lot of pride amongst our amateurs and they love competing against the wonderful PGA professionals in our state."
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 35 times, including the past 33 years consecutively.
Cherokee Country Club was opened in 1907 and features a classic 18-hole Donald Ross links style course. The course has hosted several of the state’s top championships, including the 2012 Tennessee State Amateur won by Tim Jackson.
This will be the third time that Cherokee has hosted the Challenge Cup, though it is the time since 1975. The course also held the Challenge Cup in the event’s second year, back in 1969.
“We're very excited to play the event at the storied Cherokee Country Club,” Hromadka said. “The format of the Cup Matches will be an ideal fit for this very challenging test of golf. With each distinct format this Donald Ross designed course can be set up to challenge each competitor and perhaps encourage some risk that could be the determining factor in the matches.”
“We can't thank the membership of Cherokee Country Club enough for their willingness to let the top amateurs and professionals from across our state have the opportunity to test their skills at such a prestigious club,” Hromadka added. “Don Jones, PGA, and his staff have already started planning a tremendous experience for both teams. Our sincerest gratitude goes out to everyone involved and we look forward to an event that will be remembered for years to come.”