Now in his third year as head professional of the course adjacent to Kennesaw State’s campus, the 54-year-old Williams is getting ready to host the Georgia Open, which gets underway Thursday. He will also be involved as a player, paired up with former Atlanta Braves great John Smoltz for the first two rounds.
Williams said the greens will be extremely fast this week, and the Open will likely be decided on and around the hole.
“I think it’s going to be a great test, and Georgia PGA will set it up to be fair,” Williams said. “I think they could set it up as hard as they want to, but I think they will do their best to make it fair.”
Since Pinetree reopened in October 2008, after shutting down for more than a year of renovations, it’s become a hotbed for tournament action.
Kennesaw States men’s golf program hosts the Pinetree Intercollegiate each October. Last year, the club hosted the Georgia Amateur Championship, and this year, it’s hosted a slate of USGA qualifiers.
“It’s always nice to get recognized, but it’s not so much us seeking recognition as it is them seeking us out,” Williams said. “We’re hosting (a qualifier for) the inaugural U.S. Four-Ball Championship in September, and we’re going to have people all over the Southeast play in that thing.
“It’s just a testament to our golf course. Being a difficult and fast golf course, it’s always in excellent condition.”
With course architect Bill Bergin overseeing the renovation project, Pinetree changed its greens from bentgrass to champion Bermuda. The course was also designed to be tougher around the greens, making approaches more difficult, and the overall course length was extended roughly 500 yards.
“It is incredible,” Williams said. “I thought we had a good course before. It is so much better than the old course and is much more of challenge to play.”
With all the action Pinetree hosts on a yearly basis, the schedule is spread out to a point where it doesn’t affect the club’s membership. In fact, Williams said the extra tournaments at the 52-year-old course, where Golf Hall of Famer Larry Nelson honed his craft, has lured in more members because it gives more “credibility.”