Head professional Brad Frick admits he can’t take credit for Hidden Valley Golf Club’s
popular annual “Backwards Tournament.” The event was the brainchild of David Cox, the club’s general manager from 1999-2005, Frick says, though exactly where Cox got the idea remains a mystery.
“David was in the Army – Col. David Cox – and he probably got it from his military days,” Frick says. Insert your own Army golf jokes here.
Regardless of its origins, the Backwards Tournament, scheduled this year for Dec. 15 beginning at 11 a.m., has been played for nearly 15 years and is a winter ritual for the Gaston-area
club, located off U.S. 321. No wonder: For club regulars and visitors alike, it’s a chance to play while thinking outside their comfort zones.
Take the “first” hole: A tee box is set up between the 100- and 150-yard markers of the downhill par-4 18th hole, and players then must play uphill, over the tee box to the green of the par-5 17th hole. At 17, players hit from that hole’s women’s tees back uphill to the 16th green, the hole playing as a par-3. And so it goes.
Play continues backwards to the green of each previous hole. The exceptions are the 10th hole, which plays through trees to the 18th green, and the first hole plays to the club’s practice putting green – with any of the holes there in play.
Imagination and shot-making abilities are required – and a sense of humor doesn’t hurt, either.
“I play every year and always have a good time,” Frick says. “I’ve seen players putt down the cart path from the 14th to the 13th hole. It’s the most interesting round ever, and you hit shots you’ve never hit before.” Despite the challenges, teams in the past have recorded scores as low as 10-under in the four-man, captain’s choice format.
The field is limited to the first 26 teams, and usually entries run between 40 and 60 players in foursomes. Cost of the tournament is $40 and includes golf, lunch afterward and prizes. Tees for seniors and women will be available. Deadline for entry is Dec. 11.
“We have one group that plays every year, and their captain, Ray Boulware, always e-mails around June or July, saying, ‘Make sure you save me a spot,’” Frick says.
For information or to enter, call the pro shop at (803) 794-8087.