The invitation-only tournament, first held in 1941, will feature 83 players from 14 states, as well as golfers from Australia and New Zealand.
Highlighting the field will be seven golfers ranked among the top 100 in the Golfweek amateur rankings, including Seth Reeves (Georgia Tech), Chase Koepka (South Florida), Anders Albertson (Georgia Tech), Billy Kennerly (Clemson) and Davin White (Georgia State).
Ranked as one of the top 15 amateur tournaments in the nation, and one of the top 30 in the world, the Dogwood, which begins today at Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta, will also feature local golfers Jimmy Beck, Michael Hines, Michael Garretson and Brian Katrek.
“The competition has always been good here,” said Garretson, who shot 13-under par 275 last and finished seventh in last year’s Dogwood. “Some of the top amateurs in the country are here, and it’s a tournament being played in my backyard almost. I like coming here.”
The former Harrison standout and rising senior at South Alabama received an automatic bid to this year’s Dogwood based upon last year’s top-10 finish.
“I just want to play well,” Garretson said. “I haven’t played much golf this summer. This will only be the second tournament I’ve played, but I’m still looking to improve on what I did last year.”
Garretson will have to play solidly over the four days of competition if he hopes to unseat defending champion Michael Johnson, who is ranked among the top 20 amateurs.
A rising senior at Auburn, Johnson shot 64 in his final round last year, and set a tournament-record mark of 28-under in the process. He beat Georgia Tech’s Ollie Schniederjans, Garretson’s former Harrison teammate and now the world’s No. 1 amateur, by four shots.
The inclement weather that’s affected the metro-Atlanta in recent days is expected to continue over the course of the Dogwood. Garretson believes golfers will have to be patient, yet confident, with their shots in order to navigate the course and the ever-changing weather.
“We’ll have to just be patient,” he said. “We could get called off the course at any minute. If it’s on-and-off all week, like it has been the past couple of days, the weather could play a huge factor. You’ll have to catch momentum when it’s not raining, whether you’re playing early or late tee times.”
The weather is likely to soften the greens and affect the speed of the ball.
“The course is in good condition,” Garretson said. “The greens are soft, but they have some good speed. The fairways are running fast because of the rain, but who knows how things will change (today) or the next day.”
Beck, a rising senior at Kennesaw State, tied for 10th last year after shooting 10-under and received an automatic invite back to this year’s Dogwood. Hines, a rising redshirt sophomore at Georgia Tech, and Katrek, a Mableton resident, missed the cut last year.
Druid Hills is set for a par-72, 6,850-yard layout. A 54-hole cut will be made Friday, with the low 40 and ties advancing to Saturday’s final round.