By: Tony Edwards
Photo Credit: Paula FitzPatrick

I always look forward to this annual golfing showcase event. Why? Because we show the very best of what we AP residents and staff have to offer. This year was the fourth time we have hosted the GProTour and welcomed back Tour Director Gary Haugh and his staff, along with a strong field of 93 young men all keen to pit their golfing wits against our Sound Golf Links.

But, well before the pros teed it up for the main event, there was much fun to be had. Monday started with a friendly Kick-Off Classic Scramble with 76 participants experiencing the course in tournament-ready condition. The Rotary Club of Hertford set up a wacky, noodle-strewn putting course to raise funds for Polio.

Plus, a program to fight Polio in affected countries around the world. “Putting for Polio” turned out to be great fun for all—and for a worthy cause.
Tuesday was devoted to the Swimme & Son Pro-Am, with a field of 84 amateurs teamed with 28 professionals ready to beat the course. The winning team of John Mercer, Joey Lamb, Rob Roderer and Will Nottingham was delighted to record a score of 55 with the help of pro Jamie Wilson who shot 63 in the pros’ individual competition. The evening was devoted to the awards dinner sponsored by FedEx, and more post-golf camaraderie.

And here I want to pause and thank the many sponsors whose support is vital to the success of the Biggs Classic each year. Our title sponsor, since the tournament’s inception in 2014, has been Biggs Buick GMC Truck of Elizabeth City. Mr. Bruce Biggs and his staff have been an outstanding partner for whose continued support we are very grateful.

An exciting new partner for GPro this season is Em-pact Strategic Partners of Virginia Beach who have agreed to sponsor the Empact Cup, a season-long race to the Tour Championship. We are delighted to have Kevin Paasch, principal Empact partner, and his wife Karla, as new residents of AP. To all the sponsors, both businesses and residents, we extend our sincere thanks.

The pre-tournament fun continued on Wednesday with the Empact Shootout. Ten Pro-Am pairings teed it up to play alternate shot golf starting on hole 10. One team was eliminated on each hole until two pairs remained to battle for top honors down the 18th. We had AP involvement with Walt Smith, Kevin Paasch, Donald Payne, Tom St. John and the only female in the field, Carolyn Willsmer. Carolyn, Kevin, Tom and Walt were eliminated as the holes pro-gressed, and finally Don Payne fell on the 16th having shown some deft skills. The final hole was keenly contested, but with a birdie on the 18th, Tom ‘Hollywood’ Spear and his pro partner, Jarrett Swan, took top honors.

Let’s acknowledge that volunteers are the ones who make this tournament tick. And my, how hard they all worked throughout the week. Far too many to list all individually but I must mention Mike Gardner and Bill McCarthy for their outstanding grill work. A J Jones, Billy Rowell’s son-in-law, “landed” Delta’s flying grill machine at the back of the range, and Mike and Bill served players and volunteers with quality “airline” food during the week!

The chairs of each activity also deserve specific mention. Bruce & Nancy Mullen – Tournament Com-mittee co-chairs; Ed Mascolo – Range/Golf Course; Shannon Terry – Logo Design & Signage; Tom Tetlow – Drinks and Ice; Mike Finamore – Parking & Security; Joe Easterwood – Player Transport; Art Edwards – Media Relations; Charlie Pencinger – Scoring Committee; Sam McNaught – Rules Officer; Diane Ellis – First Aid; Art Edwards, Sandy Stevenson, and Mike Gardner – Sponsorship Sales; and last but absolutely not least, our Player Housing Coordinator, Rosemary Smith. Rosemary works tirelessly each year in matching golfers with housing hosts.

Gary said, “It is the host families that set this tournament apart from any on the GPro-Tour… Rosemary, you’re the BEST!”

And I must also highlight the exceptional work of Lee Duncan, our APPI General Manager, and his Pro Shop, Golf Course, and Clubhouse staffs. Lee made sure to recognize their individual and group contributions during his closing remarks at the awards ceremony and at the very well-attended volunteer recognition party, sponsored by ECU Health Chowan Hospital, the following Tuesday.

Now on to the tournament itself. I am not going into day-by-day detail because you can go online through the link to the GPro Tour website provided on our Nabr website under ‘Community Pages/2022 Biggs Classic’ and find all the details of play there. Suffice to say, it was an extremely hot three days, not only the golf played but the weather!

The course, prepared immaculately by our Course Superintendent Randy Tetterton and his staff, played fast and fair, and the scores went low. The top four of the 33 players making the cut to the final round on Saturday were within one stroke of each other. It was a classic battle of who blinks first.
Coming down the 18th, with a large gallery on the course and on the Club-house veranda, the final pairing was locked in a tight battle for first place. Bryson Nimmer trailed Jarret Swan by two strokes, due in large part to Swann’s eagles on the 4th and 9th holes. Jarrett’s steady if not spectacular back nine proved sufficient for him to hold on and be-come the 2022 Biggs Classic Champion. He shook hands with Bryson and turned to acknowledge the lively applause from the enthusiastic crowd. With scores of 18 and 16 under respectively, both champion and runner-up had played three days of outstanding golf.

As we look back on a great week, we all have some stories to tell and fond memories, I’m sure. For me, it was the warning sign on the driving range (sign on left) and the two remembering Laura Rowell and Tom Koelzer, no longer with us in person, but still larger than life in my memory for their significant contributions to past Biggs Classic Tournaments. Gary Haugh summed it up when I talked to him following the tournament.

AP always produces an amazing atmosphere for the players, and it is the residents that must be thanked for that – most welcoming and re-warding. The Biggs Classic at AP comes closer to a PGA tour tournament than any other tournament on our GPro schedule. There is nothing else like it on tour, and I want to give huge thanks to all at AP for making this special for the players.

And remember, the top GProTour players will be back on June 28th-30th to play in the season-ending Tour Championship. So mark your calendars! (See the GProTour website for details at: 2021-22 TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP – Tournament Information Page here!