Spring golf tourney

By Matt Hill

   JOHNSON CITY- Usually when a child hits the age of 10, he or she starts getting big.
   The Coors Light Spring Fling Golf Tournament is now in its tenth year, and it has become a huge event.
   The tournament will be held on May 18-19 at Johnson City's two municipal golf courses, the Buffalo Valley Golf Course and the Pine Oaks Golf Course.
   "The Spring Fling Tournament is the biggest two-day golf tournament in the state of Tennessee," tournament chairman Bill Darden said. We have documented that to be the case.
   "We'll have in this tournament 432 players, which consists of 216 two-person teams."
   Darden is wanting both men and women to come out and play in this growing event.
   "Not only do we want women to come play, but we encourage women to play in this event," Darden said. "You can play either a two-man team, a two-woman team or we have a large number of men and women teams that play together."
   The cost to play has actually dropped this year, as the price is now $75 per-player.
   "That entitles them to two days of golf," Darden said. "They will be in the hunt for more than $2,000 worth of door prizes. And we pay four places in 16 different flights. That means 64 teams are going to come in either first, second, third or fourth in their flight. More than 25 percent of the people that play in the tournament win something."
   Every golfer will receive a sleeve of golf balls, and a Coors Light hat just for playing in the tournament.
   Saturn of the Mountain Empire will give away a car for the first hole in one made at Buffalo Valley Golf Course's hole No. 7.
   Each golfer will play at both Buffalo Valley and Pine Oaks.
   Clyce Distributing and Coors Light is proud to be the major sponsor for the event.
   "I think it's an outstanding golf tournament," Clyce Distributing's Bill Breeding said. "It's been run very well for ten years by Bill Darden. And our company has been involved with it ever since its inception in one way or another."
   Breeding believes that the tournament is a way for golfers to have fun with each other.
   "One thing people get out of this, and what it's really set up for is the fellowship," Breeding said. "Most of the people here know each other. It started out as a sense of pride in our city, and I think that's what Bill (Darden) has carried on."
   There will be an awards ceremony after the tournament is over.
   Johnson City interim director of golf Jim Hughes says this event is already starting to fill up.
   "We've got almost 80 teams signed up right now," Hughes said. "That's an important benchmark right there. This thing fills up quickly. In year's past we've had 20 teams on waiting lists."
   Darden believes it's an event that every local public golfer should take part in.
   "This is a celebration of public golf," Darden said. "This tournament is priced so that the public golfer can come and play in this event. They can do so economically, they can do so with their friends, and they can do so in a laid back atmosphere. I believe this is laid back enough for the man or woman that doesn't play a lot of golf, but there's enough competition that some of them get their competitive juices flowing."