The Blade Junior Golf Classic is much much more than just a two day golf tournament. Sunday evening the Thornblade Club played host to the Night of Courage, a fundraising/pairings party for the BK Bryan Jr-Am. There were live and silent auctions, The Back 9 Band performed and the crowd was also entertained by Jared Emerson. Jared is a local artist who painted a picture of Bill Haas on his black canvas with only his hands. It only took 20 minutes and a little Rock and Roll in the background to create this piece of art before it was auctioned off.
Monday had The BK Bryan Jr-Am being played at the Thornblade Club starting at noon. Each team was composed of one junior golfer and three amateurs, this year 30 teams competed for the title. While that was taking place, 21 teams of two took to CrossWinds Golf Club for the Blade Par Three Challenge. The top 9 teams would advance to the Bill Haas Speed Golf Challenge.
The format for the speed golf challenge was the following: “Captain” golfer tees off of #10 while there is a jr waiting in the fairway. He or She runs to the ball and hit it on the green where another jr was waiting to putt out. Once he putted out he had to deliver the ball to #12 tee where another teammate was waiting to hit the final tee shot. The last teammate hits onto #12 green where the “Captain” is waiting to putt out. Each stroke counted as one minute and that was combined to their actual time to complete to get the final score for the group.
The team Captains were 2011 Fed Ex Cup Champion Bill Haas, future Furman Hall Of Fame member Brandi Jackson, former SCJGA players of the year Crawford Reeves and Haley Stephens. College of Charleston golfer Vanessa Koechli filled the final team leader position. All five teams completed the two hole challenge and the top two teams would play again to determine the champions. There were some errant shot and a few three putts, but it was entertaining to watch and provided a good laugh for everyone, even those involved. In the end the teams of Bill Haas and Vanessa Koechli battled again and like a familiar tune around this event, a Haas come out victorious. Tournament Chairman Rob Reeves told Bill he would not get the favorable scoring much like Jay does sometimes in this event, but that didn’t stop his team from claiming the bragging rights.
A player/parent dinner followed the Speedgolf upstairs at the Thornblade Club. Everyone was treated to a southern style family dinner, and watched as the tournament donated $100,000 to Camp Courage, and Rob Reeves spoke of his recent visit and shared his experiences with everyone. The tournament also donated $10,000 to the SCJGA and $2,500 to the First Tee of Greenville. The evening ended with Maury and Clara Laurens speaking to the crowd, Clara is a former Camp Courage camper.
This event has been a favorite of the kids in South Carolina for quite some time now. The moment they arrive at Thornblade you can see it is aspecial event with all of the signage on such a beautiful golf course. There is an electronic scoreboard positioned behind #18 green that scrolls the boys and girls leaderboards throughout the day. You can’t go hungry or thirsty here either, they have refreshment stations set up on the course filled with drinks and snacks. The college coaches get a customized Blade name tag and a player profile packet highlighting the boys and girls players and resumes. Each participant also receives a player gift pack with items from Kentwool, Titleist, Foot Joy and Belk.
“The Blade” is much more than a golf tournament. For the kids playing golf, it is a South Carolina “Major” and a privilege to be a part of the event. For the sponsors it is a way to get advertising and help a very worthy cause at the same time. For Camp Courage it is a generous contribution to help maintain and make the camp bigger and better. For Rob Reeves and the rest of The Blade Committee, it is a passion to put on a top notch junior event and help fund a local charity. For the campers at Camp Courage it is a week of fun, new experience’s and about being a kid, not a patient.