By STEVE WILLIAMS
Maple Chase Golf & Country Club’s team was formed piece by piece but the end result was a dominating foursome in the 22nd annual Triad Golf Today Interclub Challenge at Greensboro National.
Great play by senior champ Harrison Rutter and Interclub medalist Davis Womble left the rest of the 10-team field playing for second. In a format where the top two scores were counted on each nine, Maple Chase counted nothing higher than an even-par 36 over two days while shooting 70-68-67-69.
Pennrose Park finished second, 18 shots back, and had the only other under par nine in the field, a 69 on the front nine in the second round. Three teams tied for third, three back of Pennrose: Tanglewood, Southwick and defending champ Pine Knolls.
The Maple Chase team also included club champ Drew Davis and senior club champ Tom Fagerli, who shot 73 the first day but was overshadowed by Rutter’s 68 and Womble’s 70.
“Tom’s the one who got it going,” Rutter said. “Then we rounded up Davis. It’s a neat concept and it’s fun to go with your club.
“Maple Chase is doing just a phenomenal job with all they’ve done with their golf course. They’ve transformed that place and it’s attracting a lot of good players.”
The Winston-Salem club, a 1954 Ellis Maples design, was known as Pine Brook before new management took over in 2014 and brought in a new vision.
In his earlier years, Rutter, now 57, was a solid amateur player and was on the golf team at Wake Forest. But he turned his full attention to his family during his children’s youth sports years. He coached and watched them play basketball, football and baseball. It wasn’t until his youngest son, Jake, showed interest in golf that he started playing again.
“I didn’t touch a club for 20 years,” he said. “I started playing with my son and I decided to go compete a little bit. I’ve really enjoyed it but it’s very humbling.”
He’s now among the top-10 ranked seniors (age 55-plus) in the state and emerged on the national level by making match play at the U.S. Senior Am last summer.
He notched a fifth-place finish in the Carolinas Senior last September and he and Jake, now a college student, lost in a playoff for the Carolinas Father-Son championship.
In the Senior Division at Greensboro National, Rutter birdied six of the eight par-5s and had only two bogeys over two days on a course he had never played before the tournament.
Gary Pugh of Asheboro was a solid second with 71-73 but ended eight shots off the pace.
“Practice rounds can never hurt but most of the golf course there is right in front of you so it worked out,” Rutter said.
Womble was also playing at Greensboro National for the first time.
“It was little tricky the first day and I got some roll-offs (from the dormant fairways) but I did a good job keeping it in play. I really hit it well both days,” he said, noting a better result with his putter would have improved his 70-68 scorecard.
“I missed some short putts that I should have made but I also made a couple long ones I probably shouldn’t have made. But that’s how it goes.”
He putted on all 18 holes (a couple from the fringe) on day two.
“I put myself in some good spots and gave myself a chance on about every hole,” he said.
He’s new to Maple Chase, joining last August, and didn’t know the senior members of the team.
“I had played with Drew but I hadn’t met Harrison or Tom in person,” Womble said. “I knew who they were and I knew they were really good players obviously. It was fun to be out there with those guys.”
In the Interclub individual competition – a division for team members not qualified for the Tournament of Champions – Womble finished seven shots ahead of Pennrose player Matt Younts, who carded 75-70.
In the overall standings for CGA ranking points, he took first by six shots over T of C winner Chris Cassetta.
Womble, was a standout player at Wake Forest out of High Point Wesleyan but took a break after graduating in 2016.
“I played golf every day of my life, basically, for 12 years, so I enjoyed taking a break from the game. I probably played four or five times from November to early March so it was nice to get out there. I love to compete and play competitive golf and it’s still a lot of fun that I’m able to do that.
It was fun to play in something like that (the Interclub).”
He’ll stay reasonably busy in tournaments this year, beginning May 19-23 when he and Chad Wilfong, another former Wake Forest player, team up in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at Jupiter Hills Club near Palm Beach, Fla.