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5 facts about the Azalea Invitational, Country Club of Charleston
26 Mar 2014
by Benjamin Larsen of amateurgolf.com

see also: Azalea Invitational Golf Tournament, Country Club of Charleston

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The Azalea Invitational kicks off Thursday from the historic Country Club of Charleston and it arrives just in time. As golfers in the northeast hope the latest spring blizzard doesn't delay golf season too much and those in the midwest are still thawing out from a frigid winter, we're able to watch in jealousy and in admiration the action from sunny and beautiful Charleston.

As the first tee times inch closer, here are five interesting facts about the Azalea Invitational and The Country Club of Charleston:

The Azalea is full of history. This year's event marks the 66th playing of the Azalea Invitational. It's been held consecutively throughout its history, save for 1990, 1991 and 2006 when the course was undergoing maintenance. The course, itself, was built in 1925 by Seth Raynor and stands among his classic yet underrated designs. The club, however, is among the nation's oldest and dates back to 1786 with its official founding coming in 1901.

Architect Brian Silva led a redesign and restoration of the course in 2006 and it's been considered a major success. The integrity of the Raynor design was preserved even through the addition of new greens, restored and additional bunkers, and a top of the line irrigation system.

The winner receives the Frank C. Ford Azalea Champions Trophy, which was first presented in 2002. The award, which is a silver antique wine cooler, goes to honor Ford, a four-time Azalea champion and member of the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame and the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame. Ford's grandson, Frank Ford III, is a six-time winner of the event.

Despite checking in at just 6,500 yards, The Country Club has long tested stellar fields at the Azalea. Past champions include: University of South Carolina star Matthew Nesmith, Washington's Cheng-Tsung Pan, U.S. Open Champion Webb Simpson (two- time winner), two-time U.S. Walker Cup team member Nathan Smith and PGA Tour playes D.J. Trahan, Casey Wittenberg and Spencer Levin, among others. Past participants include: Rickie Fowler, Luke List, Jordan Spieth, Erik Compton, Patrick Reed, Billy Horschel, Brandt Snedeker, Peter Uihlein, Corey Whitsett and Kevin Tway.

Played in the early part of spring, wet weather is always something to contend with. Last year's event, won by Austin Langdale who's now at Clemson, was shortened to 36 holes because of rain and course conditions. Potential rain is forecast for Friday's second round with the potential of thunder in Saturday's early forecast.

AmateurGolf.com will have full coverage of the Azalea Invitational starting with Thursday's first round.
ABOUT THE Azalea Invitational

72 hole stroke play with a 54 hole cut on a 1925 Seth Raynor design. Good mix of college players and mid amateurs. 7 spots available in a qualifier. Impressive list of past champions at this traditional event. The Country Club of Charleston underwent a major renovation in 2006 (the tournament took at one year hiatus) and was ready for play for the 2007 Azalea.

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