Legends on the links: Celebrities tee it up at Regions Pro-Am

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

HOOVER – It looked more like a Saturday in the fall with the amount of SEC football stars out at the Regions Tradition Celebrity Pro-Am, but it was a Wednesday in the spring.

Several of college football’s best from around the southeast and many more local celebs took part in the 2018 version of the pro-am at Greystone Golf and Country Club on Wednesday, May 16, ahead of the PGA Tour Champions first major of the year kicking off on Thursday.

While it was a day for the star-studded field to compete against each other and see who had the best golf game, it was also a day representing Children’s of Alabama and all of the charities that the tournament represents.

“This is a fun day, don’t have to go to the office, don’t have to work,” said Alabama head football coach Nick Saban. “We’re glad to be here. We’re very supportive of this event. I think it’s great for Birmingham, Alabama and Children’s hospital.”

Each celebrity group featured two children representing Children’s Hospital that got to walk alongside the celebrities and professional golfers in each group.

“This is one of the fun ones to get out and see the fans,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said. “They do a first-class job at putting on an event.”

Some of the celebrities included SEC football coaches such as Saban, Malzahn, Kirby Smart, Matt Luke and Derek Mason. Also in attendance were former Alabama and Auburn players Bo Jackson, Greg McElroy, Jay Barker, Brodie Croyle and John Parker Wilson.

Tommy Tubberville, Taylor Hicks, Bill “Bubba” Bussey and Dr. Condoleezza Rice also took part in the pro-am.

All of them playing for a good cause, but also for bragging rights as highly competitive people.

“I enjoy golf,” Smart said. “I think you get your competitive juices flowing by how you play out here.”

For Smart, one challenger came to mind.

“Anytime you get out on the course, of course you like to compete with somebody. I’d say the guy two or three groups behind me is pretty competitive too. I played with him too,” Smart said referring to Saban. “I couldn’t talk back to him when he was my boss, but now I can. He’s enjoyable to play with, I like this sport and it’s for a great cause.”

Saban, who is one of the most competitive people in the world, has a little extra help on his side Thanks to lessons from Alabama men’s golf head coach Jay Sewell and newly crowned World No. 1 Justin Thomas also giving him pointers, Saban has two of the best teaching him the game.

Saban said he needs all of the help he can get, but when asked if he belonged with the professionals because of the high caliber teaching he said simply, “Not really,” with a chuckle and a smile.

“You gotta be an athlete first, and I’m second level at best,” he said still smiling.

Malzahn also couldn’t help but just laugh when talking about the competitiveness of the day.

“I’d like it to be more competitive, but this is just the fourth round of golf I’ve played since July, so I’m not going to be too competitive,” he said. “I’m just going to try to go out and enjoy the day.”

Whether any of them will prove their worth on the course throughout the day, Hicks, who is known for his musical talents, guaranteed Smart’s harmonica skills were much better than his golf game.

It’s a day of laughs thanks to jokes like that and the representation of Children’s Hospital that makes the event so special for so many to kick off a spectacular week of golf in Hoover.

Photos available at Shelbycountyphotos.com