FRANKLIN – The Tennessee Challenge Cup is set for its 53rd installment, as details for the popular Ryder Cup-style event were finalized late last week.
The Challenge Cup, which annually pits the top 16 amateur golfers in the state against the top 16 PGA Professionals, is scheduled for November 2-3, 2020 at Hillwood Country Club in Nashville.
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.
“Hillwood Country Club has been a great, long-standing partner of both the TGA and the TPGA,” said Chad Anderson, executive director of the TGA. “It has always determined great champions, including earlier this year as it hosted the 105th Tennessee Amateur Championship.”
“Our amateurs play all summer to earn a spot on the Challenge Cup team. We are excited to end our season by having the best amateurs and professionals in the state compete against each other in November at this prestigious course.”
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 31-21 advantage in the overall series, including last year’s victory at Chattanooga Country Club. The professionals won the 2019 meeting by an 17-15 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.
“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.”
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 prior to last year.
Hillwood Country Club was designed by Dick Wilson and opened for play in 1957. It underwent renovations in 2003 and 2011. Hillwood has hosted the Tennessee Challenge Cup on two other occasions, in 1976 and 1979 – both won by the professional team.
“Mike Lathrop and the staff at Hillwood Country Club will no doubt provide an experience that each participant will remember for a lifetime,” Hromadka added. “We can’t thank Mike and his membership enough for the opportunity to come enjoy all that the world class club has to offer.”