0

3's no crowd
Hamilton Mill trio earn Nike Cup berth

Nineteen Canongate courses sprinkle Atlanta and Georgia. Each course has a junior program and is a part of the tour of the same name. More than 500 junior golfers compete in the tour of mostly stroke play events. At the end of the summer, the top points leaders in the different age classifications earn a berth in the Nike Cup to play against the top junior players from Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Tour, 20 total.

In the second year of the event, three of those golfers are from Hamilton Mill.

Lauren Court, Chris Rajek and Matt Youmas are all members at the Hoschton course and all are coached by Chuck Scoggins, who was named one of the top 50 junior golf instructors of 2007 by US Kids over the summer.

"It is special to me," Scoggins said of his students' success. "It is something that will stay with these kids the rest of their lives."

This is the second year of the Nike Cup, and Capital Hill Golf Club in Prattville, Ala., will host the tournament. Last year, Summerville in Georgia hosted the inaugural event. A berth in the Ryder Cup-style tournament comes with a dinner invitation prior to play beginning, speakers and gifts like golf bags and other items.

Of the Hamilton Mill three, only Court is making a return trip.

"I just have so much fun with it," said Court, who won three tour events this season to help earn her spot. "It is so competitive and you get to play with amazing players. Playing with those players really pushes me. Something about going back makes me want to get better and better."

Court may be the veteran on the crew, but Chris Rajek, who along with Court attends Collins Hill, learned about competition just to make the Georgia team. He finished the final three events with second places to reach the points he needed, often playing with the players he aimed to supplant.

"It was nerve-racking," Rajek said.

"There was a lot of pressure. It was the first time in a tournament where there was that much pressure on me and I pulled though. It gave me a lot of experience and confidence."

For Youmas, the path to the Nike Cup was more about adaptation than comebacks or repeats. Youmas moved up from his 14-15 age division from a year ago, a division in which he failed to qualify for the Cup, to the 16-18 group. From oldest to youngest, new tees, new competition and a new look at each course.

"It is a lot more intimidating going up against kids I know that are a lot better," Youmas said. "I don't really get nervous much at all, I just go out and play my own game.

"I knew I could beat them so it didn't really bother me that much."

Apparently not. For each of the three, the paths were varied, but they all converged in triumph with a common denominator of Scoggins. But he doesn't want the credit. All Scoggins can do is show. It's the golfers who do. And these three do it well.

"To see these three achieve what they set out to achieve ... to see them grow mentally and physically is an honor," he said.

Lawrenceville's Witcher heads to U.S. Am

With a two-day 7-under-par, Lawrenceville's Brent Witcher is headed to Pinehurst in North Carolina.

Witcher tied for low medalist honors with Sea Island's Jack Hall at The Standard Club in Duluth and will play in the U.S. Amateur Championship Aug. 18 to 24.

Yim top 7 at AJGA's Knoxville Junior Open

Shawn Yim of Buford shot 215 over three days to take a top 7 in the American Junior Golf Association's Knoxville's Junior Open last weekend.

The rising senior at Mill Creek was the second-highest Georgia finisher and tops from the county. Duluth's Seth Reeves (220) finished 16th, Suwanee's Chung Lee (224) finished T27 along with Duluth's Ben Greene (224) and Lilburn's Patrick Rudeback (231) finished T51.

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 ben.beitzel@gwinnettdailypost.com.

SideBar: Hamilton Mill

· Year opened: 1995

· Par/yardage from each tee: Couples 72/6,825; Gold 72/6,538; Blue 72/6,224; White 72/5,683; Red 72/4,744

· Course records: Nathan Rau

· General manager: Kevin Kriews

· Greens fees: Private

· Noteworthy:

· Offers mulititude of junior golf programs

· Junior golf instructor Chuck Scroggins named one of the top-50 instructors in nation by US Kids in 2007

· Designed by pro golfer Fred Couples