FRANKLIN, Tenn. – The Tennessee Challenge Cup is set for its 54th 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 Nov. 1-2, 2021 at The Course at Sewanee in Sewanee.
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, “The Course at Sewanee 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 30-22 advantage in the overall series, though the amateurs have won seven of the last 10 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 Hillwood Country Club.
"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 36 times.
The Course at Sewanee is a unique 9-hole layout that opened in 1915 on the Cumberland Plateau on the campus of The University of the South. The course underwent a major renovation in 2013 under the direction of renowned architect Gil Hanse.
The Course at Sewanee has hosted two TGA state championships since the redesign – the 2016 Tennessee Girls’ Junior and the 2018 Tennessee Women’s Senior Amateur and Mid-Amateur.