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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Helton repeats as state PGA's best

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Randy Helton, resident Pro at Riverbend Country Club.
(T-G photo by Jim Davis)
Rising to the top of any number of categories to be the top player in any given sport is no small task. Given that golf boasts some of the toughest challenges any athlete can face, and being the best in a given category is a near-impossible feat.

But for River Bend golf pro Randy Helton, earning the 2012 Player of the Year, it's just another year among the section's best golfers.

"I've been a head golf professional in the PGA for 28 years. Of those 28 opportunities, I've won this award three times, but I've finished runner up 14 times. Of the 28 times I've been eligible to do this, 17 times I've either won this or finished runner up," he said.

Across the state

In all, there are 42 sections in the country, with Tennessee representing its own section, due to the number of golf courses and pros.

"The Tennessee section is divided up into five chapters--The Knoxville chapter, the East Tennessee Chapter, the Chattanooga Chapter, the Nashville Chapter, and the West Tennessee Chapter," Helton explained.

This year, Helton competed in several tournaments and turned in key wins and strong finishes to help him earn the honors of the award.

"I think I played in like 12 events this year where you could get the points in. The guy who finished second to me actually played in two more tournaments than me, so he had a little bit more of an edge, but I got him in the last tournament," he said.

To the finish

As with this year, the race to be the year's top golfer came down to the wire.

"It's been so close that it's come down to the last tournament in the last three years. It's kind of nerve wracking in the last few weeks," he said.

In the race to the finish, Helton pulled ahead with the eventual second place finisher, and edged out a win by a mere 35 points.

"I only won by 35 points, and I think I accumulated 1,285 points and second place had 1,250 points. We were well ahead third place, so it was just us two. I won four times this year and had three seconds and a couple of thirds. So I've had a pretty good year," he said.

Much support

While winning the award on his efforts in tournaments was key, Helton also credited the River Bend Country Club and the community's support.

"River Bend is part of the reason I've played so well. They want me to play well. It's not uncommon for me to come back from a tournament and have 30 or 40 people call me and ask how I played," he said.

"It's good to have a club that backs you and wants you to play well. I think when you're away from work and you feel like you've got stuff that's getting ready to happen at the club--it's in good hands. I've got a good assistant and it's a good feeling that it's in good hands."

In addition to adding another trophy to the collection, Helton feels that being able to give back to the club and its members is as much of a joy as winning the award.

Giving back

"There's something about being able to come home and put more trophies in that case. It's a nice feeling. The members like it too. I think they like having a good player, but can also run tournaments and teach the juniors how to play," he said.

While the 2012 season is over, Helton continues to work on his game on a daily basis with the goal of being in contention to win again next year.

"I try to work on my game every day a little bit. Every year, I have one goal--win player of the year. If I get anywhere close to being player of the year, then I've had a good year."

"I don't put any pressure on myself to go play and do well, I just go play as hard as I can and see what happens," he said.

"It was a good year this year."