In Tucker, Georgia, located in northeast Atlanta, Heritage Golf Course was the host of the Black College Invitational Golf Tournament. The tournament is sponsored by the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation. The tournament takes place during the annual Hall of Fame Weekend and showcases golf teams from Division I and Division II. The Hall of Fame awards scholarships to participating schools in support of their golf programs. It is the only NCAA sanctioned event for teams from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). This year was the 32nd annual competition on Friday and Saturday September 29th and 30th. Alabama Sate and Virginia Union were the defending champions in Division I and II respectively. The 18 participating schools this year included Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Benedict, Bethune Cookman, Chicago State, Fisk, Florida A&M, Johnson C. Smith, Lemoyne-Owen, Livingstone, Maryland Eastern Shore, Miles, Morehouse, North Carolina Central, Paine, Prairie View A&M, Savannah State, and Saint Augustine. Bethune Cookman finished first in Division I with a score of 286-297=583. Florida A&M finished second in Division II with a score of 294-293=587. Miles finished first in Division II with a score of 320-305=625. Livingstone finished second in Division II with a score of 304-323=627. What made this year’s tournament outstanding, was two players having to play up to two playoff holes to decide a champion.
Connor O’Brien (70-72=142) – Bethune Cookman
Laurence Crez (68-74=142) – Prairie View A&M
Sam Cudjoe (73-70=143) – Saint Augustine
Phillip Harrison (73-74=147) – Livingstone
It was a pleasure to speak to several of the coaches during the tournament. I asked each of them which of their players could beat them.
Coach Miller of Alabama A&M: “All of them. LOL. I don’t play much like I use to.”
Coach Grandison of Alabama State: “A couple. A couple can beat me. When you work in golf you don’t play as much. But I surprise them when I do play with them. I surprise them quite a bit.”
Coach Belton of Benedict: “They would want to think they can but they can’t. That’s one of the things I pride myself on. There are two things that I always put in front of my guys: 1. Quality education. 2. Quality golf. And in that order. They are student athletes, they have the best of both worlds. ”
Coach Forshey of Bethune Cookman: “Oh man. I got to be honest. They been taking it to me this year. I don’t like to admit that. I been working hard on my game to get it back. Right now there’s a few that can beat me but I’m working to change that.”
Coach Bowen of Chicago State: “None of them. LOL. And they just can’t understand it. They hit it 30 yards past me and I just hit it up there and make my lil putts. We have some very spirited 2-man matches with my guys. I’ll bring in one of my fellow golf professionals friends and we will play the whole group. It frustrates my players because I still knock it around pretty good. We have a lot of fun with it but we keep it very competitive. “
Coach Ashford of Fisk: “NO! LOL. On any given day, Kyle Harris can give me a run for my money. But for the most part, no. “
Coach Rice of Florida A&M: “None of them. No, I will say this, that when I was playing, none of them. These kids hit the ball so far and I can’t hit it as far as them anymore. But, I still know how to get around the golf course. “
Coach Watkins of Johnson C. Smith: “All of them which is great. Mentally I can get in their head. I was better than all the players and you never want to be in that situation. I do have a couple of them that can challenge me. I try to teach them the old man game. Boring golf is par golf.”
Coach Cropper of Maryland Eastern Shore: “None of them, cause I won’t allow them. LOL. You know the old tutelage, you don’t let your kids beat you. But no, all of them can probably beat me but I won’t let them know that. “
Coach Smoot of Miles: “Did you ask me a question? LOL. They are quite competitive but the old man always got a lil something in the back hip pocket. They are all talented but a couple of them might sneak up on me.”
Coach Burkes of Morehouse: “There’s a couple that can beat me. There’s a couple guys that can go pretty low. These young guys can hit the ball a mile nowadays. And I’m a lil bit over 60. I won’t give you my whole age.”
Coach Hinton of North Carolina Central: “Hopefully, all of them can beat me. When I recruit players I hope players are better than I am. If I have players who I can beat, I really don’t need them on my team. That’s not going to accomplish too much. But I have really fine kids. That’s what I like to stress. We have good golfers but we stress on having really fine kids, really good students.”
Coach Adams of Paine: “None of them on the team can beat me right now. Matthew Peavler gave me a run for my money a couple of weeks ago but I took him in that last hole.”
Coach Jennings of Prairie View A&M: “None of them. LOL. Quite a few of them. I got some guys that are making me practice. I haven’t had to practice in a few years. I would have to say a good handful right now.”
Coach Wells of Saint Augustine: “None of them. None of them can beat me. No, actually all of them can probably beat me right now, to tell you the truth. Once I started coaching, I put the clubs away, and started trying to focus more on the program and the student athletes. But I can still hold my own though.”
You can find the full interview of the coaches under the YouTube channel DNASportsTalk. Special thanks to Merlin Knight for helping coordinate a great tournament. Congratulations to all the players and coaches on one of the best tournaments in the country.