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Golfing Gwinnett: Tight lies

Boredom seldom reaps positive rewards.

I always questioned the phrase about idle hands and devils, but Wednesday I saw the result.

The day after the major league All-Star game is known as the slowest day in sports. The game creates a void in baseball and proves how America's orginal pasttime charges through the summer opposed only by vacations and rainshowers.

In this spirit, Georgia Tech invited local sports media members with little to do on a trip to its facilities for a variety of activities that culminated in a closest-to-the-pin contest at Tech's practice range. Through the years, time has transformed this green spot from a semi-open eight acres into a grassy buttress against the commercial and residential sprawl of Atlantic Station.

The site offers putting and chippping practice areas, as well as a driving range open to most clubs in a golf bag, sans the Big Dog. It is also a testament to the quality of golfers the Jackets command. Because just as time turns a sappling-lined fairway from an open range into a driving alley, the growth around 14th street turned the once airy spaces surrounding the range into a valley flanked on two sides by condos and apartments.

Sub-par golfers practicing here could do some damage, as our contingent proved. More than one shot aimed at a circle 150 yards away curved sharply through trees and against the neighboring apartments. No glass shattered and no people were hit, though I worried for Ikea shoppers. No media member, leastways me, got a shot to land in the 150 yard circle despite five attempts each. Only one from the assembly sat their approach in the 100-yard target.

It's a good thing the Tech golfers weren't there. They may just laugh at our questions in the future after seeing our games.

Mine more than most. Don't tell Matt Kuchar.

But since I never once heard a story of a golf-related injury ouside Ikea and the condos were ball-mark free, it seems resonable to assume the media aren't invited too often and the golfers at Tech are better than average. All of them.

You don't get to play ACC golf and not be. But even the pros spray a shot here and there, giving them a bad lie or two.

When Tech practices, a bad shot could do some real damage. It makes hitting out of the rough not seem too bad.

Wright takes four at Yamaha

Suwanee's Kendall Wright shot a two-day 3 over to finish fourth at the Yahmaha Women's Open at Cannongate at SummerGrove.

Amateur Margaret Shirley of Ansley Golf Club-Settingdown Creek won the event with a 1-under par 143. Lawrenceville's Darlene Werhnak finished 33rd.

Shida leads Gwinnett golfers in Georgia Am

Duluth's Billy Shida shot a four-day 7-over par to finish tied for 19th in the Georgia State Amateur at Idle Hour in Macon.

Shida started hot with an opening round even-par 70, but finished 71-74-72 for a 287. Gwinnett finishers following Shida in the 75-man field include Duluth's Greg Kennedy (24th), Lilburn's Michael Saari (T46), Norcross' John Stembridge (T54), Suwanee's Tim Parker (T69), Norcross' Gary Melampy (71st) and Suwanee's Dave Sexton (73rd).

Griffin second at Bear's Best

Mike Griffin of Norcross finished second in Flight 1 of the Amateur Golf Tour's event at Bear's Best.

Griffin's 72 was one stroke off flight-winner Donald Kleckner of Cumming.

In the same event, Stone Mountain's Jimmy Blackmon finshed second in Flight 3 and Lawrenceville's Joey Braswell took first in the net score flight.

SideBar: THE HOOCH GOLF CLUB

Year opened: 1998

Par/yardage from each tee: Blue 62/4101, White 62/3717, Red 62/3295

Course record: Unknown

Head pro: Tim Foster

Greens fees*: Monday-Friday $32; Saturday-Sunday $37; Seniors/juniors Monday-Friday $24; Saturday-Sunday $28; twilight Monday-Friday $27; Saturday-Sunday $29

Noteworthy:

· 18-hole executive golf course

· No par 5 on the course

· Facility includes driving range, chipping green and practice trap

*Fees do not include variable cart costs