JACKSONVILLE (Florida Sports Wire) – Retired Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office sergeant Chuck Kirk of Middleburg had the most success of his 42 fellow competitors in dealing with the significant challenges Sawgrass Country Club presented and won the 66th Jacksonville Area Golf Association Senior Amateur Championship by six shots over defending champion Mark Spencer of Jacksonville.
“JAGA wishes to express its sincerest appreciation to the membership and staff of Sawgrass Country Club for providing access to the club and hosting the 66th JAGA Senior Amateur,” said co-chairs Jeff Johnstone and Gregg Deiboldt. “We are keenly aware of the many considerations involved in making a first-class and very active club available to an outside group. Being able to include Sawgrass Country Club on the JAGA tournament schedule significantly enhances our profile. JAGA and the 78 competitors can’t thank the club enough for welcoming us.”
Kirk posted impressive rounds of 71-72-77-220 (4 over) while battling the difficult Sawgrass East-West layouts that played at 6,600 yards and featured sharper than usual Sawgrass winds all three days, with some rain mixed in the first two.
“I’m shocked I beat this talented a field,” the champion said. “Even with a nice lead it was really tough to hang on out there at the end to win.”
Spencer made a strong defense of his 2022 title. Trailing by three shots entering the final round, he was unable to trim anything off Kirk’s lead. Standing on the 16th tee he was still three shots back and could not close the gap over the final three. The True Temper Sports/Baseball division manager was seeking his third JAGA “major” in three years having also won the JAGA Match Play in 2021.
The best round of day three was a 73 by 2004 Jacksonville Amateur champion Ken Moody that catapulted the Ponte Vedra Beach resident into third place.
Kirk is a story of perseverance. In 2017, he almost lost his right leg following a series of procedures to rehabilitate the ailing limb. A return to golf was out of the question until a few years ago.
Retired now since June of 2021, the former downtown Corrections Department officer has improved health and more time to work on his golf game, particularly his short game, and to head out to his favorite fishing hole. He also umpires middle school through varsity baseball games.
Despite compensating for a shorter right leg, which at times presents balance issues, Kirk won the club championship at Eagle Harbor Golf Club the last three years. And just last month he and Kim Bruce won the JWGA’s Mixed Couples tournament at Jacksonville Golf and Country Club.
The champion is ready for a few days rest having played 72 holes in the Eagle Harbor member-guest the three days immediately preceding the Senior Amateur.
First played in 1958, the JAGA Senior Amateur is the oldest continuously played golf tournament in the Jacksonville area and features contestants who are age 50 and above. This year’s field of 79 was the largest in five years.
The top-10 Senior division finishers:
1 Chuck Kirk (Middleburg) 71-72-77-220 (+4)
2 Mark Spencer (Jacksonville) 73-73-80-226 (+10)
3 Ken Moody (Ponte Vedra Beach) 77-77-73-227 (+11)
4 Todd Mudge (Lakeland) 80-74-79-233 (+17)
T5 David Anthony (Jacksonville) 81-78-75-234 (+18)
T5 Billy Lodise (St. Augustine) 76-77-81-234 (+18)
7 Rocky Fraleigh 78-79-78-235 (+19)
8 Tom Cabush (Brookfield, Wis.) 79-78-79-236 (+20)
9 Brent Dietz (Jacksonville) 81-75-81-237 (+21)
T10 Mike Vallencourt (Orange Park) 78-77-84-239 (+23)
T10 Jim Prantl 79-76-84-239 (+23)
The JAGA Senior Amateur also includes separate competitions for Super Seniors (ages 60-69) and Grand Seniors (ages 70+) played over 36 holes on Monday and Tuesday. The results are below:
Super Seniors (Ages 60-69)
With only three shots separating the top five, Scott Carnahan of Jacksonville Golf and Country Club claimed a one-shot victory over Keith Kromline. After Carnahan opened with a 74 and Kromline a 75, both posted 80 the second day to give Carnahan the narrow win. The Super Seniors layout played approximately 6,300 yards.
Top-five Super Senior finishers:
1 Scott Carnahan (Jacksonville) 74-80-154 (+10)
2 Keith Kromline 75-80-155 (+11)
T3 Lee Fields (Fleming Island) 78-78-156 (+12)
T3 David O’Haren 76-80-156 (+12)
5 Kevin Sullivan (Ponte Vedra Beach) 77-80-157 (+13)
Grand Seniors (Age 70+)
Charles Smith of Sawgrass Country Club won the age 70+ Grand Seniors’ division. The Ponte Vedra Beach resident shot 74-80-154 (+10) to beat defending champion Frank Perry of Ponte Vedra Beach and Bruce Moskovciak of Jacksonville by three. The Grand Seniors setup was 5,800 yards.
Top-five Grand Seniors finishers:
1 Charles Smith (Ponte Vedra Beach) 80-75-155 (+11)
T2 Frank Perry (Ponte Vedra Beach) 76-82-158 (+14)
T2 Bruce Moskovciak (Jacksonville) 79-79-158 (+14)
4 Peter Gibbons (Jacksonville) 88-82-164 (+20)
5 Jack Heinemann (Green Cove Springs) 77-90-167 (+23)
The winners in the Net competitions were:
Seniors – NA
Super Seniors – James Morgan
Grand Seniors – Tom Joseph (Mt. Dora)
Complete tournament results may be found by clicking here: https://jax.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/jax23/event/jax234/contest/9/leaderboard.htm