Spring Fling starts Saturday
Updated: May 26, 2022
Lakes, longnecks and burgers on the grill can wait until Monday. McMinnville Country Club will be the place to be this holiday weekend for any local golfer looking to prove their mettle.
The Spring Fling, a tradition that dates back for decades on Memorial Day weekend, will kick off early Saturday morning. This year, 47 teams will be fighting over two days and 36 holes for local bragging rights on the links.
As is customary for the event, the entire field will play Saturday before being split up into separate flights (based on first-round scores) for Sunday’s title round. Last year’s event, featuring over 40 pairings, had five flights on Sunday.
All eyes will be on Zack Molloy this weekend has he goes for his third straight championship in the event. He’ll be going for a 3-peat while playing with his third different teammate. Molloy will be playing with Mark Hitchcock this year after previously winning with Matt Richey in 2021 and Nick Stern in 2020 (that event was played on Labor Day due to COVID).
Molloy believes he can stay in contention with Hitchcock, though the math may be working against the duo.
“I'm very excited to have the chance, but a 3-peat is tough. I'm a percentage guy, so the odds aren't in my favor,” said Molloy, who also won a Spring Fling in the past with Kenny McCormick. “I like our chances if we can make some putts.”
While Molloy has put a stranglehold on the Spring Fling in recent years, he’s far from the only previous champion in the field. Richey won’t be trying to defend his title (he was scheduled to be out of town for the weekend), but Nick Stern has high hopes he can get back to the top after a one-year hiatus.
Stern will be teaming up with Bracton Womack, who was a star at Tennessee Tech before graduating last year, for the second straight year. Stern and Womack were just one stroke off the lead after Day 1 in 2021, but fell off the pace with a 5-under, 67 on Sunday.
The young guns will be looking to go low on both days this year while in chill mode.
“The plan is to hit it far and make a few more putts this time around,” said Stern, who noted he has changed his grip and added a new driver this week. "We just want to have fun and not take it as serious this year."
John Wilson and Matt Cotten, the 2019 champs, will be a team to watch, while Bill Locke and Tommy Sims, multi-time winners of the event, are always a threat to finish with a card dripping in red. Don’t be surprised if the Brocks are in contention either, whether it’s the father-son pair of Greg and Andrew Brock, the Doctors – Brad Brock playing with Bill Noah, Buck Brock (teaming with Louis Tittle) or youngsters Liam and Bunker Brock.
Being named champ isn’t easy - In the last two years, the winning score for the weekend has been 126 (18-under over 36 holes). It hasn’t been uncommon to see teams play the McMinnville Country Club course at 10-under for the day, like Richey and Molloy did last year on Day 1 to build a lead.
Club president Bill Rogers hopes to see great weather, good golf and great camaraderie this weekend as the course is packed with players.
“We have 47 teams - the best turnout in several years. The usual suspects will be in the running for the overall title and the course is in great shape,” said Rogers, who will again be playing with Keith Bryson – his teammate for over 20 Spring Flings. "New superintendent Jason Parker is doing a wonderful job. It looks like the weather will be perfect and I'm looking forward to may favorite weekend of the year."
Continue to follow the Warren County Sports Authority for the best coverage of local golf.
Tee Times for Saturday
(set times as of Thursday)
D. Glover - Grant Majors, 8:40 AM
Kenny Neal - Gavin Lewis, 8:40 AM
Steve Biles - Dwayne Brown, 8:50 AM
Keith Rogers - B. Pepper, 8:50 AM
Daniel Benedict - M. Griffin, 9:00 AM
Bart Stanley - W. Lockhart, 9:00 AM
Johnny Murray - Johnny McCormick, 9:10 AM
Andy Jacobs - Harry Flippin, 9:10 AM
Rodney Whiles - Ray Cantrell, 9:20 AM
H. Wood - Alan Johnson 9:20, AM
John Wilson - Matt Cotton, 9:30 AM
Paul Martin - Casey Talbert, 9:30 AM
Cole Taylor - Wendall Dishman, 9:40 AM
Austin Green - N. Brown, 9:40 AM
Will Stern - Mike Taylor, 9:50 AM
Steve West - Pat Greene, 9:50 AM
Bill Rogers - Keith Bryson, 10:00 AM
Jamie Stinson - Pieter van Vuuren, 10:00 AM
Alan West - Jason Denney, 10:10 AM
Butch Bullen - Roger Jacobs, 10:10 AM
Brett Simmons - Tony Pounds, 10:20 AM
Chris Cochran - Ryan Williams, 10:20 AM
John McNulty - Kevin Moritz, 10:30 AM
Bobby Morton - Todd McInerney, 10:30 AM
Bobby Taylor - Paul Moore, 10:40 AM
Ronnie Brown - Phil Whisenhunt, 10:40 AM
Tucker Lynn - Grant Walker, 10:50 AM
Hank Patton - Matt Brown, 10:50 AM
Dr. Brad Brock - Dr. Bill Noah, 11:00 AM
Bill Locke - Tommy Sims, 11:00 AM
Andrew Brock - Greg Brock, 11:10 AM
Buck Brock - Louis Tittle, 11:10 AM
Barry Medley - Dave Alsbrook, 11:20 AM
Blake Alsbrook - Chase Alsbrook, 11:20 AM
Clint Moore - Chase Moore, 11:30 AM
Wally Stern - Chuck Boyd, 11:30 AM
Jimmy Mosier - Wayne Woolfall, 11:40 AM
David Spry - J. Webb, 11:40 AM
Nick Stern - Bracton Womack, 11:50 AM
Al Womack - Bill Hickey, 11:50 AM
Craig Hamby - John Perdue, 12:00 PM
Karl Huff - Greg Wilson, 12:00 PM
Bunker Brock - Liam Brock, 1:00 PM
Cody Durham - Tommy Bryant, 1:00 PM
Abet Crawford - Jon Kidd, 1:10 PM
Zack Molloy - Mark Hitchcock, 1:10 PM
Corker DeLoach - Mickey Heath, 1:20 PM
Chad Newby - Darrell Cook, 1:20 PM
Simmons Says – My favorite golf weekend is here
The Masters are awesome (and won me some money this year) and I will always keep my eye on the majors, but if you ask me what tournament I look forward to the most when it comes to golf, it’s definitely the Spring Fling at McMinnville Country Club. It’s the perfect gathering of guys just wanting to kick back and relax on the holidays with a fun game --- only they get to crank up their competitiveness to the max and trade trash talk.
What better way is there to spend Memorial Day than being out on the course on what is setting up to be a beautiful weekend while crushing some cold – beverages – and letting the big dog eat (if you don’t get that reference, I don’t know how you got this far in a golf story). Sure, I could be on the boat – and will be Monday – but I’m looking forward to seeing who turns into a birdie machine this weekend (it’s also fun to watch a team or two melt down Sunday as well – it’s a tradition like none other).
There’s a saying that there are two things you don’t have to be good at to enjoy. One is golf and the other is --- well, let’s just keep this as a PG column and focus on golf. The Spring Fling is great because it gives everybody a chance to play for something Sunday on a fair playing field (generally speaking, although there’s always some sand baggers – we’re looking at you West and Denney down there in the 3rd/4th flights).
Sure, there are the elite guys who are always in the championship flight every year, but for the others who may only be able to muster the magic sporadically (then spend most of the other holes cussing while in the weeds looking for their ball), the flight system gives them a chance to have some bragging rights by the end of the tourney. As somebody who spends a good amount of time around the course, I can tell you that there isn’t a bigger badge of honor you can wear at MCC throughout the summer than being the Spring Fling champ (being Chairman of the Bar is the runner-up prize).
As much as I’d like to break down the field from 1-48, I just don’t have that much time (and there’s also a few groups who I honestly don’t know). Instead, here’s my best guesses as to which team will bring home the biggest prize as CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT winner Sunday.
The favorites - Nick Stern and Bracton Womack
This is going to be a controversial selection, but I think these two purged all their Sunday shenanigans last year and will be a force over two days this year. I don’t think anybody would doubt Stern and Womack have the talent to win it – it will come down to if they have the composure to bring out their brilliant play while avoiding any major letdowns.
I don’t think it’s far-fetched to think they can put together back-to-back 62s to win. Does it concern me that Stern is making some last-minute tweaks to his swing and to his bag -- yeah, a little. I'm still confident he'll be up to the task when he steps on No. 1 Saturday at 11:50 a.m.
Next up - Pieter van Vuuren and Jamie Stinson
Easy call. They’ve been on the doorstep of a victory for three straight years, including shooting a crazy 10-under, 62 on Sunday last year. If there is a team that is due a gift from the Golf Gods, it’s van Vuuren and Stinson – two all-time great guys who happen to also be great golfers.
Ranking the rest of the top 5 contenders:
John Wilson and Matt Cotten – In the last three years, the duo has the following finishes: 1st, T-3, T-2. When you’re consistently near the top of the leaderboard, you’re really just talking about a putt or two falling from being the champ. Wilson and Cotten are so long off the tee they should have dozens of birdie putts this weekend (and more than a few eagle looks).
Zack Molloy and Mark Hitchcock – I’m not dropping the back-to-back champion any further than fourth, even if I don’t know much about his teammate. Considering Molloy has been able to find an instant connection in each of the last two years and win, I have no doubt he’ll be right back in the mix this year.
Paul Martin and Casey Talbert – There’s a great weekend lurking in this pairing at some point. I’ve been labeling them a dark horse for the last three years and I’m ready for it to pay off.
Apologies to all the pairings featuring the Brocks, Patton and Brown and Stanley and Lockhart – they are all good teams and at least one (more likely, 2 or 3) will be in the Championship Flight.
Here’s a few more quick predictions/thoughts:
My brother’s group Saturday, featuring Brett and Tony Pounds (aptly named by the way he slams the ball) playing with Chris Cochran and Ryan Williams, will be fun to watch. Brett and Ryan teamed up last year and were in the championship flight before imploding on Sunday, but they’ll be in separate carts this year. It won’t stop them from talking plenty – the only thing that may shut them up is if the Rockies take over Brett’s cart or Ryan has an Ultra good time.
Hank Patton and Matt Brown will throw up a score this weekend that will inspire at least 10 people to say, “I forgot about them.” I don’t know which day it will be, but they’ll put together an impressive nine-hole stretch that rivals any team on the whole course.
People will accuse Bill Locke and Tommy Sims of sand bagging if they shoot anything above 66 on Saturday. And they may be right, though it may be asking a lot of guys who probably won the event together before a few other competitors were even born to continue to fight it out in the Championship Flight.
Somebody hits a Hole-in-One on a Par 3. OK, it probably won’t happen, but if it does, I hope it’s on Saturday and the great man pays his dues on Sunday.
I’ll feel stupid about not picking Willy and Cotten to win by about noon Saturday. If I hadn’t already written 2,000 words, I’d go back and change this column.
Stinson and van Vuuren hear roughly 1,000 jokes about finishing second in the last three Spring Flings. Because they’re great guys, they’ll take them in stride, but deep down they’ll hate every one (of the jokes... and maybe a few of the individuals). Their anger will inspire them to play out of their mind all weekend and they’ll wind up finishing second again.
Ronnie Brown, rekindling the magic of leading the Pioneers to a state championship 30 years ago, has a big weekend with teammate Phil Whisenhunt. They’ll win a flight.
Andrew Brock wins a long drive prize and Bobby Taylor gets a closest-to-the-hole on a Par 3 this weekend. Book it.
The tournament organizers will remember how cool it was to see the Championship Flight groups come in on No. 9 to finish right in front of the clubhouse on Sunday and flip-flop the front and back for the final day. I’m really just trying to speak this into existence so the gallery can see the last approach shots and putts when it matters the most.
Everybody has a tremendous time. I know I will.