Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Three competitors prepare for their putts on the 17th hole of the Mid-Amateur Golf Championship at Berkeley Hills Country Club in Duluth on Friday. Competitors from all over Georgia will compete in the tournament Friday though Sunday.
DULUTH -- With the Georgia State Golf Association Mid-Amateur Championship coming to Berkeley Hills Country Club for the first time ever, David Noll Jr. found the surroundings to be to his liking.
That's because the Dalton native and 2007 champion shot a five-under 67 on the 6,694-yard, par 72 layout to take the first round lead on Friday in the 31st edition of the tournament.
The 54-hole event features another 18 holes today with a field of 141 golfers, followed by a cut being made down to the top 70 and ties for Sunday's 18-hole final round.
Noll, who won the 2011 Georgia Amateur Championship and finished tied for fifth in last year's Mid-Am Championship, shot a 35 on the front nine and came home in 32 on the back nine.
The four-under on the back nine included birdies on four of the last five holes.
"The greens were perfect and I thought the whole course was in fantastic shape," said Noll, who had seven total birdies. "Chris Purvis and his staff have done a great job of getting this course ready to play. If you took advantage of what the course gave you and read these greens correctly, you could post a good score."
Chris Waters of Athens sits in second place after a four-under 68, followed by Dan McManus of Newnan in third with a three-under 69.
Waters and Noll were the only two golfers to post two sub-par nines over the Berkeley Hills Course.
Only 14 golfers manage to break par and another seven golfers came in at even-par among the 141 players who completed the first round.
Jeff Koontz of Suwanee fired a two-under 70 and sits in fourth place heading into today's second round.
Koontz went out in two-under 34 and finished the back nine at even-par 36.
"I played well tee to green today," said Koontz. "And this course is in absolutely perfect shape. The greens were faster than I expected, but the rest of the course was great. It is all about keeping it in the middle of the fairway off the tee and then being below the hole on the the greens."
Some local course knowledge didn't hurt either.
"My cousin, Jeddy Smith, has been a member here," said Koontz, who went to Norcross High School and played high school golf at Berkeley Hills. "So I am familiar with these greens and I know that Chris Purvis has it in great shape."
Other local golfers in the hunt early include 2002 champion Greg Kennedy of Duluth in a tie for seventh (71) and Mitch Kim of Norcross in a tie for 15th (72).
Terry Rush of Buford, Timothy McCabe of Suwanee and Rob Roy of Buford each shot 73 and are tied for 22nd.
A total of 24 golfers from Gwinnett County qualified for the tournament.
Other past champions include Rick Cloniger of Dacula, who won in 2001 and 2002.