VALDOSTA — Golfers tee off tomorrow in the 71st annual Jack Oliver Invitational golf tournament at the Valdosta Country Club.

A field of 80 golfers will play in the 54-hole tournament, which begins tomorrow and lasts until Sunday.

“We’ve got a good field, especially in the championship flight,” Valdosta Country Club head professional Rob Williams said. “The course is in the best condition it’s ever been in. It could host any type of golf tournament. Our course superintendent, Barry Bennett, has done a great job with the course.”

Golfers playing in the morning will tee off between 8:30-9:30 a.m., while golfers playing in the afternoon will tee off from noon-1 p.m.

The Jack Oliver began in 1940, when local golfer Charles Harper won the inaugural tournament.

“We’ve been having this tournament for a long time. There’s a lot of great history and great tradition,” Williams said. “This tournament, back in the day, was one of the biggest tournaments in the state. People from all over used to come play in it.”

The field will be split into six flights. The championship flight will play a normal stroke play format, teeing off from the blue tees (the course’s longest tees).

But flights 1-5 will play a Stableford format, where golfers earn points on each hole and the highest score wins instead of the lowest. Under the Stableford format being used, a bogey is worth one point, a par is worth two points, a birdie is worth four points and an eagle is worth five points. Each player will have a pre-determined number (based on their handicap) subtracted from their on-course score, and that will be their net score for the round. Golfers in flights 1-5 will tee off from the white tees.

The flights will be pre-flighted based on a player’s handicap.

Williams said the championship flight will have some talented golfers this year. Chesley Gunn, who was an All-American at Valdosta State this season, will be back to defend the Jack Oliver title he won in 2009. Some of Gunn’s former VSU teammates will be competing. So will Sam Hogan, a three-time Jack Oliver champion who was also the Valdosta Open’s amateur champion earlier this year. On Monday, Hogan qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur at a qualifier in Jacksonville. Six-time Jack Oliver champion Nic Daugharty is playing. Tevis Upton, an Acworth native who recently played in the U.S. Amateur, will also be in the field. So will David Hobby, a senior at Valwood that recently won a Southeastern Junior tournament in Albany.

The golfers will play each of the Valdosta Country Club’s nine-hole courses twice. On Friday, they’ll play the Bottom and Bellemeade courses, on Saturday, they’ll play the Plantation and Bellemeade courses and on Sunday, they’ll play the Plantation and Bottom courses.

The Jack Oliver champion receives a special watch for winning the tournament.

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