‘Banner’ KAWGA has ‘with child’ contender

A repeat champion, a pregnant contender with life-long ties to Fox Den Country Club and a hole-in-one highlighted 69th Annual Knox Area Women’s Golf Association Tournament, hosted this year by FDCC Tuesday and Wednesday, June 13-14.

Robin Banner, defending KAWGA champ, won her third such overall [gross/stroke play] championship since 2009 [76-80—156].

She celebrated in FDCC clubhouse Wednesday after being presented the KAWGA cup trophy by association president Linda Hopkins. “The Fox Den course is one of my top two favorites courses to play in Knox [County], absolutely,” Banner said in a speech during the clubhouse ceremony.

Banner, who currently is not a member of a KAWGA country club, defeated members from FDCC, Gettysvue, Tellico Village, Oak Ridge, Holston Hills, Cherokee, Beaver Brook and Green Meadow country clubs.

Overall Net Division champ was Suzanne Crutcher of Gettysvue Country Club [63-69 —132].

But it was Carolyn Levy Gilliam who made her own statement about being “with child,” six months pregnant with a son, and yet staying competitively active — active enough to finish in the top four of a 51-woman field after the first 18 holes Tuesday.

“I think as long as you’re used to playing golf before pregnancy it’s fine. … If the doctor says ‘go for it,’ go have fun,” said Gilliam, two-time defending FDCC champion who was a star golfer at Farragut High School [Class of 2006]. She played college golf at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. “It’s a blast. And it’s good for the baby.”

However, “I’m hitting the ball about 20 yards shorter, so in that way it has an impact,” she said after finishing 81-80—161. “Adjusting your putting a little bit so your stomach doesn’t get in the way.”

Playing in “at least five” KAWGA tournaments, “I came in second a couple of years ago,” Gilliam said.

About defending her Fox Den Country Club titles, with the event scheduled in August, “I’ll probably be too far along to play,” she said.

One of the other big highlights was a hole-in-one on No. 2 Wednesday, as Dena Bower from Oak Ridge CC pulled off the feat using an 8-iron from 124 yards out.

Although sinking another hole-in-one “about 10 or 12 years ago,” Bower’s KAWGA hole-in-one “was really the first one I got to celebrate because I had just started playing golf when I made my first hole-in-one — and I didn’t know it was a big deal,” she said.

Other first-place finishers: First Flight gross, Sue Miller; First Flight net, Vicki Whitmore. Second Flight gross, Carolyn Singer; Second Flight net, Catherine Manning of FDCC. Third Flight gross, Brenda McJunkin; Third Flight net, Francie Elrod. Fourth Flight gross, Diane McMillen; Fourth Flight net, Karen Jones of FDCC. Fifth Flight gross, Nancy Hammar; Fifth Flight net, Karen Wiley. Sixth Flight gross, Vonnie Oaks; Sixth Flight net, Brenda Lawson.

Linda Siddons, tournament director, and Greg Nesbitt, FDCC general manager, thanked a host of players and FDCC officials for making this year’s tournament — which comes to Fox Den every eight years — a success.

Flights 1 through 3 closest proximity: Carolyn Singer, 12-foot-3.5; Flights 4 through 6, Judy Strandquist of FDCC, 15-feet-11

That includes Scott Moran, FDCC head golf professional, Danny Ackerman, FDCC assistant head professional, and Scott Severance, golf course superintendent.