69th Golden Isles Invitational begins Thursday

It’s been 70 years since Georgia Sports Hall of Famer ‘Dynamite’ Goodloe won the inaugural Golden Isles Invitational golf tournament, and the event has only become more prestigious in the time since.

The 69th edition of the Golden Isles Invitational tees off from the Brunswick Country Club on Thursday with a field of more than 170 golfers set to compete for the cup.

“It’s a good amateur event,” said Brunswick Country Club general manager Dan Hogan. “You’ve got a wide variety of players, age groups. It’s been an attraction for a long time. It’s a great place to come down to this area of the country, the Golden Isles, during the Fourth of July week, play some golf, and enjoy the holidays.”

Hogan described the Golden Isles Invitational as “part of the fabric of the club and the community” since its inception, in large part due to an ultra-competitive field made up of college players, the occasional former professional and talented amateurs from around the state.

“Fifty-four-hole events are not all that common, so having three days of competition is good,” Hogan said. “The guys that don’t make championship flights, they’re still going to be in flights and competing for prizes. The spread flights are usually one or two shots. It’s very competitive in that respect.”

There have been 48 different players to win the Golden Isles Invitational, and just 11 multi-time champions over the course of 69 tournaments.

Goodloe won the tournament three more times in the years to follow his victory in 1949, while Brunswick native, and former Georgia Tech golfer Bill Ploeger’s 11 wins are the most wins in the history of Golden Isles Invitational.

More impressively, Ploeger’s 11 championships were won over three decades — the first in 1971 and capping the run with back-to-back titles in 1998-99.

The Golden Isles Invitational also added a senior championship to the tournament in 2011 to give long-time competitors the opportunity to continue the tradition in a field of their peers.

Danny Daniels won the first two senior titles, and Steve Melnyk added consecutive senior championships in 2014-15 to three titles in the mid- to late-60s.

But the days of such dominance in the tournament appear to be gone as the field continues to get deeper and more competitive each year. Since 2000, 16 different players have won the 17 events (the tournament wasn’t played in 2005 and 2007).

With wins in the 2011 and 2016 Golden Isles Invitationals, Dru Love, son of 21-time PGA Tour winner Davis Love III, is the only player to win the event more than once since the turn of the millennium.

“I pretty much say every year, you’ve got 20-25 guys that have a good chance to win it,” Hogan said. “You spread that over an 18, 19-year window, and it plays to that.

“I think it speaks to the variety and level of competition.”

Tee times for Day 1 of the tournament are scheduled to run from 6:50 a.m. until around 1:50 p.m.

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