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Pro golf tourney coming to Shelby County

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Brandon Brown, NGA Tour will stop at Shelbyville Country Club in May

By Josh Cook

The National Golf Association Pro Tour is coming to Shelbyville, and it’s in large part because of hometown boy Brandon Brown.

The NGA’s Pro Tour, which bills itself as “the number one developmental tour in the United States,” has a stop at the Shelbyville Country Club on its recently released 2014 schedule. The event will be played May 19-25.   

Brown, 31, a professional golfer, Shelbyville resident and graduate of Shelby County High School, has played on the NGA Tour for the past seven years, winning seven events (which ties him for third on the all-time list) and more than $400,000.

“Brandon had everything to do with it,” said Ryan Waters, the vice president of operations/media director for the NGA. “At the end of the 2013 season Brandon suggested Shelbyville Country Club as a host course. He thought it would be a perfect fit for the tour, and he said he had discussed the idea with them [people at SCC] and that they were interested. So Brandon was the first one to open up those lines of communication.”

Brown was the Tour’s Player of the Year in 2012 and its leading money winner in both 2011 and 2012.  

“Brandon pushed both of us in the same direction,” said Greg Gibson, the general manager and director of golf at the Shelbyville Country Club.

According to Gibson, the event could be an economic boon to the city and county.

“The NGA Tour estimates an economic impact to the area of a hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars,” he said. “The ink is still wet on the agreement, but we are excited to begin what is hopefully a long a prosperous relationship with the NGA Tour.”    

The NGA Tour (formerly the Hooters Pro Golf Tour) is comparable to Double-A at the professional baseball level, with the Web.com Tour (formerly the Nationwide Tour) serving as the equivalent to Triple-A and the PGA Tour as the “major league.”

The NGA Tour has been a proving ground for several PGA players in recent years, including 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson and 2007 Masters winner Zach Johnson.

Brown became the first golfer from Shelby County to play in a major championship, when he participated in the U.S. Open last June. He also played in a pair of Web.com Tour events last year. Brown finished ninth on the NGA Tour’s money list last year, winning $43,138 in 11 events.

Brown holds the course record – a 59 – at the Shelbyville Country Club. He shot that in May of 2010, and, incidentally, three days after that round, he carded a 61 on the course.

The event will take the place of The Cherry Blossom Classic, which has been played at Cherry Blossom Golf Club in Georgetown. Brown won that event in 2011 and 2013.

“The initial plan was to add Shelbyville to the Georgetown-Knoxville run to make it a three-tournament run,” Waters said. “Then, when Cherry Blossom was unable to host again, we were able to get Gainesville, Georgia, back onto the schedule. It ended up working out for all parties involved.”

Gibson, who was recently promoted to GM, said that the club is pursuing sponsorships for the event and that its tournament committee will have “as much” local sponsorship as it can.