Welcome to The Goat
Welcome to The Goat
Back in the beginning of the pandemic shutdown in 2020, Justin Young of Roanoke, one of Virginia’s elite amateurs, had the inspiration to create the ultimate guys weekend at his then home club of Ballyhack Golf Club.
JY, as he is affectionately known by his peers, didn’t want this to be just any old hit and giggle. Rather, he wanted to host an annual event that brought together some of most accomplished and talented players from Virginia and beyond for a weekend of quality golf, camaraderie, and competition. A quick scan of the invitational’s roster and you’ll find many former D1 college standouts, mini tour vets, state amateur winners, and USGA Championship contenders.
You need not worry about submitting your Handicap Index. No strokes asked for and none given, this is The Goat.
Are the two winners of the weekend really to be considered the Greatest of All Time? Maybe not. Nevertheless, it’s a fitting name for this scratch golfer laden crew, which also provides a nod to Ballyhack’s infamous stable of African Boer Goats that reside just off the 14th green.
While the name The Goat remains, after two memorable years in Roanoke, the boys hit the road this year. For the 2022 edition, we found ourselves winding up the Blue Ridge Parkway to the undeniably pristine Primland Resort and it’s famed Highland Course. Recently ranked by GolfWeek as the 37th best public track in America.
The welcome dinner on Friday night at the Saloon was a fitting southern family style feast. With our fearless leader JY at the head of the table, we shared stories and laughs before getting down to business back at the house. Pairings and tee times were revealed; perhaps a bet or two was placed. On to some blackjack to finish out night 1, where a couple of Martinsville, Virginia’s finest ran the tables like a well-oiled machine for this night and the following.
Twenty-Eight players made the journey to the top of the mountain in the Meadows of Dan to compete on this 2006 layout designed by veteran British architect, Donald Steel. The course offers stunning vistas and sits atop a massive plateau. Meaning that despite the vertical drops lurking in between tee boxes and landing areas, as well as off to the left and right of many holes, you are often playing on reasonably flat lies. The lush bent fairways are narrower than one might expect, given the harsh penalty for hitting a wayward tee shot. However, the greens are large and accessible while also rolling very true. This made for loads of birdies, a few eagles, and even an ace as the sun went down on Saturday.
That Saturday morning came calling early and the boys were buzzin’ on the range. 54 holes over the next 2 days to decide who would take home the hardware. The teams are picked blind ahead of time, so you won’t know who your partner is until just before the weekend arrives. Amongst this group, though, there is no such thing as a bad draw. Best ball is the predominant format, though the second 18 of the 36-hole day provides a slight reprieve from the grind with an afternoon scramble.
Sticks’ own Trey and myself were not teammates, but fortunate to be paired in the same group together for rounds 1 and 2. Our play was decent but the weather and dramatic mountain views were much better. The locals noted on occasion how fortunate we were to catch such perfect blue skies, where fog and passing storms are all too common in the summer time. Bear sightings were a plenty, and there was some dispute as to whether or not our group was seeing one bear many times over or different ones. Either way it was awesome to be in their presence, even if they caused occasional delays while we waited for them to clear a tee box here and there.
A highlight of the afternoon was a stop off at Primland’s incredible smoker off the 9th green, where some serious barbecue was served up before Round 2.
An even more significant highlight however, was the aforementioned hole in one from our friend Brandon Grogan. Trey and I were in the group directly ahead. Through the trees, we heard a back 9 at Augusta like roar from behind. Brandon hit a reportedly mediocre 7-iron that just happened to find the fortunate side of one of Steel’s signature large mounds, and the ball fed from the left edge of the green all the way to the bottom of the cup. You can bet that after our post round revelries, the pub had to restock on cold beers and transfusion supplies the following morning.
The Sunday finale came round, and it was our very own Dustin Groves (Sticks Picks) who stole the show. Lighting the Highlands Course up for a 62 on his own ball, carrying he and Dustin Hussey to the promise land. That weekend in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains came and went in a flash, but memories from The Goat will last for many years to come.