By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – Don Hershfelt loves the adrenaline rush he gets when he participates in a stroke-play golf tournament.
“It’s like in any other sport,” said the veteran Northeast Mississippi golfer and rules official. “That’s what you’re here for.”
Hershfelt was one of 88 golfers experiencing the thrill – and likely more agony – playing in the 27th annual Butch Lambert Memorial Invitational on this hot, steamy Saturday at the Natchez Trace Golf Club.
Hershfelt, a two-time champion in the event – 1989 and ’90 – said the Butch Lambert’s stroke-play format is what separates it from the area’s numerous scramble and 4-ball events.
“I like it because it’s stroke-play,” he said. “That’s what got me interested in golf. This divides the golfers from the casual golfers.”
The Mississippi Golf Association sanctioned the Butch Lambert for the first time this season, meaning MGA-registered players can earn points in the organization’s standings. Look for the Lambert’s competitive field to improve each year as more of the state’s players become aware of the tournament.
This year’s field is stronger than it has been in previous years. “We’ve got a lot of golfers here with the potential to win,” Hershfelt said.
Last year’s champion, Bo Reed of Tupelo, has returned to defend his title. Now that his college career has ended, he looks forward to playing in the few stroke-play events available.
“I think you’re going to see this tournament grow because it’s sanctioned by the MGA,” said the former Tupelo High and Meridian Community College standout. “I think it’s great. It’s a step in the right direction.”
Mark Enis, the THS golf coach and a three-time Butch Lambert champion – 2002, ’03 and ’04 – believes the competition will only get tougher with the MGA’s sanctioning.
“Now a whole lot of people who didn’t know about us will … it gets word about us out there,” he said. “Just getting the word out is the main thing. I don’t think a lot of people south of Starkville knew about this tournament.
“Once the word spreads about how good this course is, I think we’ll see more people playing here. There are not a lot of stroke-play tournaments out there. That’s what you’re looking for.
“Ultimately, you want to compete.”
An adrenaline rush is almost guaranteed.
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593