Halifax Country Club

A tournament that usually kicks off the summer golf season at Halifax Country Club will now end it as the annual member/guest golf tournament that will take place over Labor Day weekend.

The original date of the tournament was back in May on Memorial Day weekend, but COVID-19 forced tournament officials to postpone it until this weekend.

The forecast is looking favorable for the golfers, as they will head out onto the course, with lower humidity and overall temperatures and lots of sunshine expected throughout the weekend. While the usual social will not take place, there will still be plenty of golf and other prizes to be won.

The tournament format consists of two days by the better ball format where each two-man team puts down the best score of the two for each hole. It is predicted that a score of 15 under par is where they will want to be to have a shot at the title. Tournament director W.J. Long said that the course at HCC is playing tough, with small greens and brutal rough heading into the weekend.

Participating in this weekend’s tournament at HCC are:

• W.J. Long and Nick Lumsden: Long is a former club champion at HCC and also a two-time Remax World Long Drive finalist and longtime member of the county cup team. Lumsden is one of if not the only player from Halifax who has ever qualified for the USGA Mid Am. The Mid Am is the third largest tournament held by golfs governing body. Lumsden qualified for the tournament in 2016 and 2018. He also was the 2016 SoCal Amateur champion and 2018 USGA San Diego Regional medalist. Lumsden was born and raised in Halifax County and played his high school golf here and now resides in California.

• Jimmy Clay and Austin Harper: Clay is coming off of wins at the Greens Folly and HCC club championships that added to his already lengthy accomplishments on the golf course. Clay has long been considered the best player in the county for many years. He is long off of the tee and has a short game to back it up. Harper and Clay are good friends, and Harper played his high school golf down the road at GW-Danville. While playing at GW, Harper was their number one player. Although they compete against each other often, Harper and Clay are a deadly combination when they team up on the golf course as they have won the Danville two-ball tournament many times together.

• Brad Mele and Kris Mele: Brothers who were standout junior golf and high school golfers will look to end the weekend at the top of the leaderboard. Kris is a business owner in Harrisonburg and has a smooth swing that doesn’t need a lot of practice to put up a good score. Brad, who is a local business owner in Halifax, is similar to his brother as he doesn’t need a whole lot of practice to compete at a high level.

• Jay Burnett and David Meeks: Burnett is a former club champion at HCC and another longtime county cup player. He is a fierce competitor on the course and doesn’t let adversity affect his game. Meeks is a former member at HCC and county cup player. He has a low handicap and can play with the best of them on the course.

• Woody Clay and Josh Irby: Clay is Jimmy’s older brother and is just as capable on the course as his brother. He is a former champion at Greens Folly and winner of many two-ball tournaments. Known for his short game, Clay will be looking to knock off his brother by the end of the weekend. Irby is a scratch golfer that played his high school golf here at Halifax. He went on to play college golf at Lynchburg College. A solid golfer, the pair will be considered one of the teams to beat.

• Justin Saunders and Sammy Puryear: Saunders has consistently improved his game and is now down to a three handicap. Puryear is a tough competitor that plays at Greens Folly and also is a county cup player. Together the duo should be in the mix when Sunday rolls around.

• Lyle Moore and Sam Lantor: Moore is coming off of a big win at the HCC two-ball tournament a couple of months ago and is playing well on the course with a lot of power off of the tee, and he is another fierce competitor. Lantor grew up in Halifax but now resides in Raleigh and is a very energetic player on the course.

• Phil Rinker and John Howerton: The two are longtime friends and have won many trophies together on the golf course throughout the years. Both players are low handicappers and are sure to be towards the top of the leaderboard throughout the weekend. Rinker has won several club championships at HCC and been on the county cup team for decades. Howerton is a very steady golfer with a fierce mentality.

• Joey Gasperini and Bennett Owen: Gasperini was the low gross at The Memorial this year, shooting a 66, and is a young and very strong player. He was a one handicap and played his college golf at Lynchburg College. Owen is a college teammate of Gasperini’s and also has a one handicap. The two combined make a dangerous pair and will definitely be in contention on Sunday.

• Michael Puryear and David Day: Puryear has gone from a double-digit handicap down to a three handicap in just a few years. He is long off to tee and has a short game to go with it, which makes his a great partner on the course. Day is an everyday player at Greens Folly and a member of the county cup team. 

W.J. Long contributed to this report.