The 76th Annual Chicken Dinner Golf Tournament will once again tee off at the LaFayette Golf Course on June 16-17.
Believed to be the second-oldest golf tournament in the state, spots in this year’s two-day, 36-hole tournament are quickly filling up as they approach the maximum field of 160 players.
“We’re already at 150 players, and we should have a really good field this year,” said LaFayette head golf pro Eddie Jackson. “We’ve got some really quality players coming in.”
Trenton native Heath Jones will return to defend his title. Jackson said that Jones recently won a tournament in Centre, Ala. and is playing well in the days leading up to the Chicken Dinner.
A number of past champions have registered to be in the field, including three-time champion Ken Maples, Jr., two-time winners Josh Jackson and Walt Moffitt, and single-time title winners Rob Bohannon, Andrew Partridge, and Shonn Weldon.
Ladell Norton and Al Stanfield are tied with the most all-time wins in the event. Stanfield won it six times between 1965 and 1983, while Norton collected his six wins between 1986 and 2002.
Jackson, who owns a record five straight tournament wins from 1978 to 1982, says three factors have made the Chicken Dinner one of the most anticipated amateur events of the summer each year.
“First of all, it’s the history and tradition,” said Jackson, who has been involved with the tournament for more than 40 years. “It’s just a great tradition throughout the area that everyone seems to look forward to. Two, we give great prizes. This year, we’re giving away five $900 sets of Titleist irons. You won’t find any other tournament around here giving away prizes like ours, and third, we have a tremendous golf course that’s really a hidden jewel in the (Tri-State) area. People just love to come and play this course.
“People used to think having the tournament on Father’s Day weekend would hurt, but it really hasn’t. It’s really become a special thing for fathers to play in it, sometimes with their sons.”
Last year’s tournament saw Jones trail Bo Abney by four shots after the first seven holes of Sunday’s championship flight. But Jones battled back and used a birdie on the par-4 18th hole to finish at 10-under par 134 and win by a single stroke.
Abney was second at 9-under, followed by Maples, Jr., (-6), Weldon (-5), Mark Jason Green (-2), and Josh Jackson (even).
Other flight winners included P.J. Shields (first flight), Jordan Bethune (second flight), Marvin Ward (third flight), and Clayton Chandler (fourth flight).
The tournament’s $125 entry fee includes green and cart fees for both days of the event. The chicken dinner will be served on Saturday afternoon from 12-4 p.m. and tee times for both days begin at 7:30 a.m.
First through eighth place in all flights will be awarded prizes. In case of rain, the tournament will be held on June 23-24
For more information, call the LaFayette Golf Course at (706) 639-1580.