Golf went big time in Greater Alton last weekend at Rolling Hills Golf Course in Godfrey. Just ask some of the key players. They took two days to play in the 12th annual Godfrey Open, a newly formatted 36-hole event.
“I like it a lot,” Kyle Hogan, the 2015 champion, said of the upgrade.
So did this year’s champ Shane Smith, celebrating his third tournament championship.
“I really like having the Open division,” he said. “It was more inviting to me to come back and play here.”
Marquette Catholic High senior Michael Holtz also enjoyed it, competing in the A Flight rather than the Open competition. Holtz won A Flight in a one-hole playoff with Corey Schelle.
“There were a lot of high-caliber people playing here, so I like it,” Holtz said. “It brings a little more to the tournament. It’s also nice to have a guy like Shane Smith here and see how he does without having to worry about playing against him.”
The Godfrey Open is a portion of the Metro Cup Series that Jim Odle coordinates. Odle, one of the area’s top golfers and sales manager at All Steel Products near Litchfield, has the Cup Series rolling through the fairway in just its second year.
The Oak Brook Open in Edwardsville and Indian Springs Invite near Fillmore are part of the six-event competition. They ran April 16 and May 7, respectively, with Jake Erickson winning at Oak Brook and John Kelly prevailing at Indian Spring.
So are upcoming tournaments in Staunton (June 25-26 at Timber Lakes), Alton (Aug. 20 at Cloverleaf) and Greenville (Sept. 3-5 at Greenville Country Club). A match play championship finale is set for Oct. 29-30 at Arlington Greens Golf Course in Collinsville.
“It’s a good thing,” Odle said of the series. “We have players from Illinois, Missouri, Indiana and Mississippi. Golfers from all over the Midwest are finding out about us. Playing professionals are also welcome in our events, which has never been done before around here.”
He added, “The biggest goal we had when coming up with the points race was to put something unique into place for competitive golf. Individual tournaments have been trending downward for about the last decade or better.
“And in our second year, we have more than doubled our Metro Cup points race entries and have some bigger things already in the works for 2017.”
At Rolling Hills, golfers teed it up in different classes.
“We had Metro Cup competition, flighted play and Seniors competition,” Odle said. “It was a different caliber of golf with the (Metro Cup) division players we had entered.”
Kyle Williams, the general manager at Rolling Hills, welcomed the opportunity to have the club participate in the Metro Cup.
“It worked out great this year,” said Williams, the 2007 Gold Medal champion. “We brought in 20 more guys and some better players. I can’t imagine having overall better players in the past than we have had this year.”
In addition, the par 71 course seemed suited to the players. Take it from Williams.
“This place looks as good as it had in decades,” he said. “We like this date (first weekend) in June and hope we can keep the same date in the future.”
Better course, more players, he figures.
“I certainly hope we can pull in more players,” he said. “We had 107 this year. If we had 120 next year, that would be great. And we would love to have a full field of 144 players.”
Smith said the modified Godfrey Open included smooth play on the fairways and greens.
“The course is in great shape,” he said. “The greens are fabulous.”
Odle pointed out, “The course is magnificent. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in better shape.”
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