TROUTVILLE - Changes have been made to the area’s premier high school golf tournament, which returns to sport’s calendar early next month after a year’s absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Botetourt Metro Invitational, formerly known as the Bob McLelland Metro Invitational, is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug.10 at Botetourt Golf and Swim Club.
Jeff Sprinkel, the club's PGA director of instruction, is the new tournament director, and the event will be contested in one day as opposed to two.
The tournament, which dates to the 1970s, will no longer honor the memory of legendary Roanoke sportswriter, a member of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
Beginning this year, the tournament will be staged annually at Botetourt Golf and Swim Club; no longer will other clubs in the area host a round or rounds of the event.
Franklin County is in this year’s field of 20, five-player teams and eight invited individuals: 108 total players.
The Eagles open their 2021 season in Richmond in a one-day tournament at Lake Chesdin Golf Club in Chesterfield, Monday, Aug. 9 followed by their appearance in the Botetourt Metro.
The Roanoke Valley schools will continue to be invited to the Botetourt Metro, but the field will include schools from outside of this area such as Jefferson Forest, Giles County, Amherst County, Appomattox County and Patrick County, Sprinkel said.
Sprinkel recalled playing in the tournament in 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1986 during his prep career at William Byrd. At the time, golf had transitioned from a spring sport in Virginia to a fall one.
“I had to chose between playing football or golf and I chose golf. We see where that choice has led,'' Sprinkel said adding that he has aided in the careers of numerous area junior players throughout the years.
FCHS finished third in the tournament in 2019, Michael Rogers’ first year as the Eagles’ head coach, behind winner Blacksburg and two-time reigning Blue Ridge District champion Lord Botetourt.
Blacksburg has won the tournament seven times since 2005.
FCHS captured three consecutive champions from 2000-2002 while being guided by former head coaches Charles Jamison and Derek Bryant.
Former FCHS golfers Matt Chandler (1998, 1999), Neal Hunt (2001, 2002) and Luke Hoffman (2006) are past individual champions.
Other past team champions since 1988 are Hidden Valley, Salem, Cave Spring, William Byrd, Patrick Henry, Northside and Lord Botetourt. Aside from Patrick Henry, all of these school have captured consecutive championships during this era of the tournament.
CHIP SHOTS: FCHS begins Blue Ridge District play Tuesday, Aug. 17 at Copper Cove Golf Club and plays Blacksburg there in a non-district dual match Wednesday, Aug. 18.
The Eagles have league matches scheduled for Hanging Rock Golf Club (Tuesday, Aug. 24), Blue Hills Golf Club (Tuesday, Aug. 31), Copper Cove (Sept. 7 hosted by Staunton River) and Botetourt Golf and Swim Club (Tuesday, Sept. 14).
Dual matches against Patrick County (Thursday, Aug. 26) and Magna Vista (Thursday, Sept. 2) are set for Copper Cove.