Mitch Hufstetler tees off at Valleybrook Golf and County Club in Hixson in this file photo.Photo by Margaret Fenton
The Brainerd Invitational hit a boom.
The annual golf tournament will have more participants today and Sunday at Brainerd Golf Course than in any of the previous eight.
Its scheduled participation of 115 golfers is more than a 25 percent increase from two years ago, when 80 golfers posted scores for both days.
"I hope it means that things are getting better for folks and they are deciding that they want to compete," said defending champion Mitch Hufstetler. "I think the Stableford competition that Mike [Jenkins] started helps draw in players, too."
The Brainerd Invitational is the first area amateur tournament of the year in the Chattanooga TPC series, which Jenkins oversees, and runs through September.
"I'd love to see every tournament this year have more than 100 players," Hufstetler said.
Participation in the Brainerd Invitational dropped to 70 in 2010 from a high of 149 players in 2002. It swelled last year and jumped by eight more this time around.
"I look for overall numbers and the strength of the field, and we have both this year," Jenkins said. "When you have quality and quantity, can't ask for more than that."
Hufstetler has played in the last three Brainerd Invitationals. He shot a 7-under-par 137 to force a playoff with Tom Schreiner and Brandon Cissom last year and won on the second hole with a birdie.
"I got lucky," said the 53-year-old Hufstetler. "They let an old man sneak up and win it."
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
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 ...