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Mack finds his calling with career

Maybe once a year Kyle Mack went to the golf course as a teenager.

The 1996 Meadowcreek graduate hacked it around with his friends, but admits he didn't really understand the game. His high school didn't have a team, so he focused on playing catcher for his baseball team.

He didn't intend on picking golf up, but he sort of stumbled upon the sport, and a career, when he moved to

California.

A few years removed from high school, Mack headed out West and worked at a greenhouse in Calabasas, Calif., while also taking some turf classes. From there, he became interested in the maintenance side of golf, worked at a local course and at 22 years old, finally began playing the game more seriously.

"I started playing golf because one of the perks (of the job) was free golf," said Mack, now 28 and an assistant golf professional at The Ridges Resort and Club in Hayesville, N.C.

Mack continued working maintenance - he helped grow in a three-hole junior facility for the city of Los Angeles - and then started school at Arizona State, which is renowned for its Professional Golf Management School. He completed internships with the Arizona Women's Golf Association and at Arizona State, where students built and operated a practice facility.

After graduating from ASU last December, he returned South for a job at The Ridges as an assitant pro. When he becomes an official Class A PGA member later this month, he will be elevated to the head golf professional at the resort course, which is affiliated with a resort on Lake Chatuge across the border in Hiawassee.

He now handles plenty of duties - from running junior clinics to updating the course yardage book to usual day-to-day operations - as a golf professional. He said he really enjoys working at The Ridges, but he has high goals for the long term, like being a tournament director for the PGA Tour.

It's certainly not a path he foresaw growing up.

"Really there are no family members of mine who play golf," said Mack, whose father lives in nearby Young Harris and whose brother still lives in metro Atlanta. "It was just a progression of horticulture to getting a job working maintenance and learning those areas. That got me going on golf. I guess it was a roundabout way of getting there."

Lee, Wright excel on

Georgia PGA Junior Tour

Kevin Lee of Dacula and Kendall Wright of Duluth had third-place finishes in the Georgia PGA Junior Tour's Callaway Gardens Junior Classic last weekend.

Lee, the boys 12- and 13-year-old champion, was third overall in boys competition with rounds of 70 and 75. Duluth's Ben Greene (76-70) tied for fourth, Berkeley Lake's Billy Shida (75-73) tied for eighth, Duluth's Zach Wright (74-75) tied for 10th and Norcross' Justin Cho (79-72) tied for 15th.

Wright shot 80 and 85 to tie for third in the girls overall division.

Duluth's Kennedy advances to U.S. Mid-Amateur

Greg Kennedy of Duluth shot 69 this week at Lanier Golf Club to earn a spot in the upcoming U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. The event is scheduled for Sept. 9-14 in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Kennedy was one of eight players to advance from a field of 133 golfers in the sectional qualifier at Lanier. Former Georgia golfer Ryan Hybl was the low medalist in qualifying with a 67.

Cochran wins Northwood club championship

John Cochran shot 70, 72, 71 to win the Northwood Country Club men's club championship last weekend. Cochran beat runner-up Bob Kontur by five shots.

Kontur shot 73, 74, 71 while third place went to Deron Hornbach (80-68-74). Robby Kerr (fourth, 78-75-74) and John Musgrove (fifth, 77-75-81) rounded out the top five.

Flight winners in the event were Greg Mikesell in the first flight, Roy Griffin in the second flight and Kim Conroy in the third flight.

Wood second on AGA Tour

Mike Wood of Lawrenceville tied for second in the Amateur Golfers Association Tour stop at Hawks Ridge. Wood shot 78 to tie Acworth's Randy Koster in Flight Two.

Golfing Gwinnett is a weekly column that highlights golf in the area and welcomes contributions from courses and individuals. To be included in the column, fax information to 770-339-8081 or e-mail to will.hammock@

gwinnettdailypost.com.