It’s April in Georgia and the lush, green fairways, blooming dogwoods and magnolias on this side of I-20 are all accented in plaid. Ormewood Park resident Greg Schulz readies himself and the Atlanta golf scene at large for the 12th annual Schulzie Invitational.
Some argue that golf is not a sport but a hobby and my editor may need convincing that this interview fits the strict “sport and fitness” guidelines of the Intown Runaround.
Well, I once told my wife, Jenny, that I didn’t think she was a strong enough athlete to be a good golfer. She now has one hole-in-one to my zero. It’s a miracle I’m married, and now I steer clear of this debate.
A miracle indeed. Let me steer it this way: you are a terrific golfer but the bulk of your participants are decidedly not. How does it work?
The format is a scramble, so as long as the group has one decent player, the more challenged golfers don’t have to worry. This works well because even as the event has grown, the talent level has not.
How did the retro golf gear become an integral part of the event?
I thought it would be cool to get a bunch of people to dress like a plaid clad Johnny Miller from the 1970s and go make a scene on the golf course. That was 12 years ago, and now of course I can take credit for the trend of PGA pros dressing like Schulzie participants on Tour.
I love the PGA, but watching Ricky Fowler is like staring at the sun. Anyway, what are some of the best outfits/costumes you’ve seen over the years at the Schulzie?
My brother-in-law, Kevin Wuornos, was the first to break out the kilt, and he wears it well. The Easter Bunny has made a couple of appearances.
Impressive short game, that bunny. How many times have you won your own tournament? Does it make you feel kind of jerky?
Three times. But I haven’t won since 2006. I don’t like the idea of winning my event every year, but now it’s getting ridiculous.
Have there ever been any exciting finishes?
My sister Megan made a 25-foot putt on the 18th green to win for her team one year in front of 50 people. It’s probably the greatest golf moment in Schulz family history. Then there was the Joel Borgman/Martin Sullivan 6 hole playoff. They raised the level of play for the Schulzie.
And to the winners go…
The retro plaid jackets. They get to take them home for a year, to wear at dinner parties, or as pajamas.
Sounds like a statement in both fashion and hygiene! Talk to us about the charity component of your event. Mulligans sell faster to this crowd than hot doughnuts.
The host course is home to the First Tee program, which teaches the game and values of golf to inner city kids. The event has also supported FitWit (thefitwitfoundation.org) and the Clearwater Initiative (clearwaterinitiative.org), two very cool organizations started by friends.
You’ve partnered with Charlie Yates Golf Course in East Lake every year – would you recommend others use them for their outings?
It is a short course with mostly par 3s, so it’s perfect for a laid back event with folks that only break out the sticks once or twice a year. But it’s also well designed, with great shot making holes for the more seasoned players. The staff is very accommodating, and seems to get a kick out of my group.
I wonder if the staff would paint the scene in a similar light? What year do you expect your kids, Eva and Henry, to make their Schulzie Invitational debut?
At 2 years and 5 months old, they’re still working on honing their swings. But the Schulzie is a ploy for getting family and friends to come in from out of town, and who can resist a toddler in knickers.
Any predictions for this year’s event?
The returning champions are comprised of an ex-pro, a dentist near retirement and two ladies that can swing the clubs pretty well. The rest of us may never see the plaid jackets ever again.