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The 25th anniversary of the first Wilson Cup, Wilson County’s modification of professional golf’s Ryder Cup, will be observed the final weekend of August at Wilson Country Club on Saturday and Wedgewood Public Golf Course on Sunday, Aug. 26.
The event’s longevity is a source of immense pride for founder Kent Williams.
“It seems like it was only a couple of days ago,” Williams declared. “A lot of really, really good players have come through it.”
However, the celebration of the unique competition among Wilson’s four golf courses that originated in 1993, might be considered bittersweet.
Defending champion Wedgewood, Wilson Country Club, Willow Springs Country Club and Happy Valley Country Club will all be represented.
However, Williams and his support staff are braced for Happy Valley’s farewell.
Happy Valley shutting down after 56 years of existence is imminent. In fact, the course may not be open at the time of the 25th anniversary tournament.
However, Williams, WCC general manager Reid Hill and head golf professional Josh Price, Willow Springs owner/professional Jimmy Gurkin and Wedgewood professional Brady Pinner have granted the few remaining Happy Valley golfers permission to field a team.
Because of the late date and conflicts, qualifying was not possible and Happy Valley’s 10-member squad was established by vote of club members.
“It’s sad,” Happy Vallley Wilson Cup standout Brandon Godwin admitted. “A lot of the guys have been members for 30-40 years. I have been playing there since I was a kid,
“We wanted to form a team at least one more time.’
Happy Valley’s 2018 Wilson Cuppers are, indeed, genuinely appreciative of the opportunity.
The selected 10 will seek Happy Valley’s fourth championship.
“Of course, we are going to try to win it,” Godwin pledged. “Nobody wants to lose.”
No doubt, the ideal scenario would be the Happy Valley layout being sold and remaining open as Happy Valley Country Club. That prospect is not promising.
“I would like for there to be a Happy Valley team (in the future), but I don’t know how that would happen,” Godwin said. “I would think there’s not any way that could happen. I don’t know how keeping Happy Valley as a team is a legitimate option.”
Williams assures the Wilson Cup will not disband and emphasizes: “We’ve got some options.”
Reducing the field from four to three teams is the obvious recourse. But the four-team structure is considered ideal and preferred.
“We will seek every opportunity to keep it at four teams, whether we stay in Wilson or just outside Wilson,” Williams reported.
As the milestone occasion approaches, the 40 participants will do well to accept the advice of former tournament director Justin Hayes, who played on championship teams for WCC, Willow Springs and Happy Valley.
He encourages all to promote all the positive ways the Wilson Cup has affected Wilson County golf.