CGA Gets Boost: Reunion Big Hit; Fields Confident
Jack Nance takes his job as executive director of the Carolinas Golf Association very seriously.
That’s why he thinks there should be some time set aside for fun, especially if that fun can help accomplish something serious.
That’s why there was some serious fun had at Pine Needles Resort last Monday when the inaugural reunion was held.
On hand for the fun were some serious names in Carolinas golf annals. Included were Donna Andrews, a majors winner on the LPGA Tour and now a renowned instructor at Pine Needles; Jay Haas, PGA and Champions Tour star; his brother Wake Forest University golf coach Jerry Haas; all-time winning player in CGA events Paul Simson; former PGA Tour players Neal Lancaster and Clarence Rose; and Southern Pines’ own Jack Fields, currently in the midst of attempting to qualify for his PGA Tour playing card.
The golf part of the reunion went off without a hitch with teams headed by Carolinas Amateur champion Harold Varner, Lancaster and David Eger claiming the team awards.
But the golf was just the appetizer. The main course was the event’s fundraising effort for the Carolinas Golf Foundation, and Nance was satisfied with the outcome.
“I think it went very well for our first one,” Nance said. “This is something that’s been in our minds for a while as the foundation has been supported by the CGA, but we’re now also raising money for building our Golf House here at Pine Needles. We’ve seen other associations do reunion events, so we decided, why not do one?
“It’s been very well-received, and we’ve had a lot of support from people playing in our events. A lot of them say they can see this getting really big. We definitely accomplished our mission, and I think we’ve made a great first impression.”
Fields, who staged an impressive rally last week to advance into the second stage of qualifying for his PGA Tour card, was more than willing to participate in the reunion. As a winner of the North Carolina and the Carolinas amateurs as well as the Carolinas Open before turning professional last year, Fields is one of the CGA’s most successful players.
“Anything I can do for the CGA I’m more than willing,” he said. “The organization has been so good for me, and I was lucky enough to win the majors. It’s really good to be part of this.”
Luck didn’t have nearly as much to do with Fields’ success as did talent and the inherent ability to come through in clutch situations. That served him well in his recent Q-School advancement, where he rallied from opening rounds of 73-70 at The Club at Irish Creek to tie for 16th with 20 players advancing to the second stage.
“I was disappointed, but I knew that wasn’t terrible,” the 22-year-old Fields said. “I learned a lot when I missed the cut last year at Pinewild, and it was a completely different animal this time. I knew I was two over after the 73, but I also knew I had 54 more holes. I knew if I stayed patient, I had a good chance of advancing.”
That patience paid of with closing rounds of 69-67, and tied for the final qualifying berth. A 65-foot birdie putt on the 10th hole in the final round pumped him up, and he made birdies on 11 and 12, then closed out the 67 with a clutch six-foot birdie putt that enabled him to advance.
That was a far cry from his final round at Pinewild last year when he struggled to an 81 and left the course disconsolate and unsure of his future. Now he’s looking forward to the second stage at Southern Hills Plantation in Brooksville, Fla., Nov. 14-17.
Fields’ confidence has also been boosted by his first year of professional competition on the eGolf Tour. He won an event early in the season, had a second-place finish a few weeks ago, and won almost $40,000 over the season.
“We play for a decent amount of money on the eGolf Tour,” Fields said, “and if you can be successful there, there’s no reason you can’t be at the next level.”
If he doesn’t earn his card, Fields is realistic.
“It’s hard to say what you’ll do if it doesn’t work out,” he said. “But either way, I’m still going to stay positive. If I play well on the eGolf Tour again, I can make a little money and I’ll do a little more Monday qualifying for the Web.com Tour. I made it in two of four tries this year.”
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