NEBO – If the tournament holds true to form, 70 or more golfers will vie for McDowell County’s top prize Aug. 3 and 4 at Marion Lake Club.
But course Pro Greg Parker said there are two former champions he’s especially hoping to see in the field.
This year marks the first Al Farley McDowell County Open Championship since the tournament’s namesake and much-loved former longtime pro at the course passed away last November at age 73.
Both Al’s sons, William (Scooter) and Frank, have won the event, Scooter in 1990 and Frank in 1996.
“I’m hoping Scooter and Frank both come and play,” said Parker I haven’t talked to them, but I anticipate they both will.”
Numbers for the annual tourney, which began in 1980 as the McDowell County Championship, have been solid – there were 74 players last year and 75 in 2017 – since an open format was adopted in 2010. Prior to that year, only county residents were allowed to play, and turnout had dwindled over time.
“Obviously, our numbers went up when we included non-county-residents,” said Parker, in his 13th year at the club. “I understand there were mixed emotions about that, but you’re better off to have a tournament with 70 players than 20 or 30. It creates competition.”
South Carolina’s Kyle Scruggs (66-69-135) proved the top competitor last year when he beat second-place finisher Hunter McComb (69-70-139) by four shots. Five-time champion Rick Condrey (see related story) was five shots back (68-72-140).
Tanner Price and Fred Young placed fourth and fifth respectively, and Scooter Farley was sixth. Condrey claimed the seniors championship while Johnny Young took super seniors (70 and older) honors. Tyler Price, then a McDowell High senior and now a freshman player at Catawba College, won the ladies title.
Parker said he hopes to get some of the out-of-towners back again, and expects a solid crew of local competitors to figure in the mix.
“I hope we’ll get some of the guys from Rutherfordton, Spruce Pine and Morganton,” Parker said. “Hopefully, we’ll (McDowell) have a good representation.”
Past winners Condrey, two-time champion Josh Davis (2008, ’09) and Brandon Godfrey (2016) should be among the McDowell players in the hunt, but Parker said there are several others who have legitimate chances to make some noise.
The event is a two-day, 36-hole, stroke-play tournament. Entry fee is $80 for club members and $100 for nonmembers. Players can sign up by calling the pro shop at 652-6232.
Note: Although it isn’t official, Parker said he anticipates the tournament’s name will be changed to the Al Farley Memorial McDowell County Open.