Berkeley Hills to host new golf tourney

A large group of professional and amateur golfers will descend on Berkeley Hills Country Club this week for an inaugural event, The Championship at Berkeley Hills Country Club.

The Duluth club will host a Pro-Am today and the field of 156 players will play two rounds of stroke play on Monday and Tuesday.

"We really just kind of stumbled upon it," said Shawn McKinnon, Berkeley Hills' director of golf. "I'm the tournament chairman for the Georgia PGA and it just so happened that I heard about it. Our club was looking to hold this kind of event so it worked out pretty well."

The tournament is open to both Georgia PGA members and apprentices and, also, Georgia amateurs with a handicap index of 4.0 or less. Gwinnett and its local golf courses will be well represented at Berkeley Hills, which is also one of the home courses of reigning Open champion Stewart Cink. He helped with some recent renovations of the course and would be in attendance if he wasn't defending his title next week at St. Andrews.

Sylvester's Sonny Skinner, who finished runner-up at the PGA Professional National Championship in French Lick, Ind., and Alpharetta's Tim Weinhart, who holds the points lead for 2010 Georgia PGA Player of the Year honors, headline the tournament's field.

"We would like for it to be a regular event, a fixed event," McKinnon said. "We would like for it to be one of better and one of bigger events in Georgia. We hope people can come over and see what this event is all about and get more involved. If we get a big enough sponsorship, we would like to involve charity at some level as well.

"It's really just getting the word out that the event is still on and that it's here at Berkeley Hills. We're centrally located in Duluth, right off I-85. We're really in the middle of everything, but we're a hidden gem so to speak because we're not easy to find. We have athletic clubs and TPC Sugarloaf is just a few miles away."