Mitch Hufstetler putts Sunday during the Red Bud golf tournament. Photo by Allison Carter
The Red Bud is back and it is beginning to bloom.
One of the storied amateur golf tournaments in the Chattanooga area nearly died last year when only 23 golfers played both days in April last year.
But with Valleybrook Golf & Country Club under new management -- precisely the management of owner David Drake -- and a move to September, the Red Bud has been revived.
More than 50 golfers -- including seven tournament winners from this year -- completed both days in a tournament atmosphere with the Bermuda greens closer to perfect than many members can ever remember.
"They need to keep having the tournament right now because the course is in excellent condition," said winner Mitch Hufstetler. "In all the years I was a member here, the greens are better than ever, and probably the best in Chattanooga right now."
Hufstetler beat another former Valleybrook member, Walt Moffit, in a one-hole playoff Sunday for his second win of the year on the Chattanooga TPC series schedule.
"It was already a good year when I won the Brainerd [Invitational in April] and it's become a spectacular year," said the 52-year-old Hufstetler, "especially for an old guy."
Hufstetler shot a 1-under-par 70 on Sunday while Moffit shot a 3-under 68 which had them both at 1 under through the 36-hole event.
Wayne Woolfall finished third and missed the playoff by one stroke. Chris Schmidt finished fourth and two shots back. The group of Brandon Cissom, Jacob Clark, Mike Jenkins and Richard Spangler tied for fifth at 4 over.
"They hit an absolute home run with the date," said Jenkins, director of the Chattanooga TPC. "They doubled the number of participants, and the field was as strong as any event we've had this year."
The golf wasn't bad either.
Hufstetler birdied the last two holes of regulation to get in the playoff. He chipped-in on the par-5 17th. The ball hit the back of the cup, popped up and dropped in. Then he rolled in a birdie putt from about 45 feet on the 18th.
"If it doesn't hit the hole," Hufstetler said, "it's probably off the green."
Which would have left Moffit as the champion. But the simple fact that he's playing again -- and competing for championships -- was enough to please Moffit who three-putted the playoff hole and lost with a bogey.
Dr. Richard Alvarez diagnosed and treated a soft-tissue problem in Moffit's right foot late last fall. And Dr. Houston Payne operated on his left hand earlier this year. The same hand that swelled a little at the middle knuckle with every shot on Sunday in his return to competition.
"I wanted to stay below the hole with my first putt in the playoff, but I over-did it," Moffit said. "That's OK."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...