Congratulations to Jonathan Keppler on his victory in the 2019 Georgia Amateur Championship at Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown Creek course. Keppler is a native of a Marietta, a recent Florida State grad, and the son of local golf professional Stephen Keppler. And from the sound of his post-round interview, it sounds like he will soon give professional golf a go.
One thing is for sure, Settindown does not produce fluke winners, and Keppler stayed at or near the top through all four rounds. The course seemed to play tougher each day, with only 8 of 142 rounds on the weekend under par, with none in the 60s. To put the difficulty in perspective, Keppler shot 74-73 over the weekend and actually extended his lead.
In the end, his fast start of 68-66 set the tone for a winning score of -7, three strokes clear of Ansley’s Club Champion Tim Shaetzel, who birdied the final four holes in furious fashion to finish at -4, close enough to make Keppler think hard about the challenging tee shot at the Par-4 18th hole. But it was Keppler’s series of gritty par puts in the final round that made the difference. Only three other players finished the tournament under par, as Settindown once again flexed its muscles as a thorough test of golf.
Stay tuned for photographs of the final round coming soon.
Ansley Golf Club - Settindown Creek
2005 U.S. Women’s Amateur
The third round of the Georgia Amateur Championship starts today, and if history tells us anything, it’s that Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown course will identify a worthy champion. If a tournament venue is judged the quality of its champions, then Settindown is one of the finest.
Its championship pedigree started in 1995 and 1996 with the hosting of the Nike Tour Championship. And whatever you think of the recent Betsy Ross shoe controversy, Nike Tour has a hell of a lot better ring to it than Korn Ferry Tour. Those two titles were won by local players Allen Doyle and Stewart Cink, and of course both went on to PGA Tour success.
In 2005, Settindown hosted the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. At the time, there were two young amateur stars in women’s golf, Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie. Wie blew it off, instead choosing to play in a professional tournament, depriving the possibility of an epic showdown that would have been big for women’s golf. But Pressel came and emerged the champion.
The above photo shows her holing out for eagle from 100 yards on the 10th hole of Saturday’s semifinal match. The two photos below show the photographs I made of Maru Martinez on the 8th green just a few seconds before and after Morgan’s eagle. This demonstrates the importance of casting a wide net when photographing tournament golf. Your head better be on a swivel, or you just might miss something cool.
Ansley Golf Club - Settindown Creek
The Georgia Amateur Championship returns today to Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown Creek golf course for the third time. The top amateur players will be there. That’s a group I used to include myself in (even if no one else did!), as a former version of my golfing self regularly competed in all GSGA events, including this championship exactly twenty years ago.
And then Settindown happened. Specifically, the Eighteenth at Settindown happened.
And it was there, some time in the mid-2000s, that my golfing life was divided in half. I came to the final hole of a three day tournament, having not played particularly well, and certainly with no chance of winning. I teed the ball up with high hopes, and fourteen strokes later, I picked the ball out of the hole. Well, not the same ball. It helps to lose one or two if you are going to make a fourteen.
I realize now that I was playing golf with only one real concern: the number on the scorecard. I had it all wrong for so many years. I wanted to play the hardest courses, from the longest tees, and then judge the experience only by a final number. But as Chris Lewis once told us: The Scorecard Always Lies. I was always interested enough in golf course architecture to recognize that a Donald Ross course was classic and fun and strategic, and a Rees Jones course was not, but it was still all about the score.
That fourteen liberated me. Instead of being angry and embarrassed, I had a beer and laughed it off, regaling friends with a shot-by-shot tale of the fourteen. I may have played a tournament or two after the fourteen, but that was the day I transitioned from competitive to recreational golfer. And then I soon began making golf photographs, and through the lens the true spirit of the game began to reveal itself to me. It’s a story that continues to unravel, a story I’m still trying to tell through pictures.
I like to think that my tournament photographs are informed by my history of playing competitive golf. I know what the players are going through. I recognize the tension and challenge and doubt that tournament golf promises. And I also recognize the exhilarations, big and small, along the way. I have documented many victories, some of them major, but it’s the in between moments that are most intriguing.
I look forward to walking the fairways on Saturday and Sunday at this years Georgia Am, with a camera instead of clubs. And that’s the great thing for me about photographing rather than competing: I’m guaranteed to make it to the weekend!