Brick Capital Classic Highlight – Bobby Ballinger

By Jon Hockaday

Bobby Ballinger was always one of my favorite people.   It made sense that his win in 2000 would remain one of my favorite Brick Capitals.   Bobby was easy going, always had a smile on his face, and always one of the better ball strikers at Sanford Golf Club through the late 80s & 90s.   Working full-time as a UPS mechanic didn’t allow for the practice time that short games demand, but you could always count on Bobby to hit a lot of greens, miss some short putts, and in the end have a pretty good round.  Some golfers would struggle to hit the shots the way they wanted but could made up for it with good chipping and putting.   Bobby was the other extreme.   Bobby was an average putter that would make up for that with tremendous, accurate ball striking.  

Struggling with the putter was his reputation.  It was his game.   People expected Bobby to struggle with the putter.  So did Bobby himself.   Bobby was usually the first one to poke fun at his putting.   He would leave the Pro Shop and announce, “Hey I’m gonna go put on a putting clinic if anybody needs one.”  It would always draw a laugh and Bobby accepted it well.  But finally, on a beautiful weekend in June of 2000, the putting stroke all came together for Bobby Ballinger.   And he became a Brick Capital Champion.

This tournament was one of my favorites for several reasons.  In addition to Bobby winning, it was the first time my 10-year-old son Jonathan helped me with the scoring at a tournament.   He was just getting the golf bug, and seeing the competition and being a part of a championship that I know seemed so big to him at the time, did nothing but increase his desire to play.  The attached picture was one somebody took of the leaderboard as the final group came up the last fairway.   It was sent to me after the event and the picture of Jonathan wearing a scoring headset and working the leaderboard has always been one of my favorites.  

The leaderboard at the 18th green at the 2000 Brick Capital

Ballinger’s Brick career had featured some appearances in the Championship Flight.   But more often than not, a balky putter would be the Achilles heel and most finishes were usually well back.   But 2000 would prove to be different.   Putts that went by the wayside in the past were now on line.   Putt speeds were perfect.   Ballinger sailed through Saturday with a steady yet uneventful round that produced an even par 71.  He would stand 2 shots behind 1st round leader Junior Cole (69) and tied for 2nd with Sanford’s Matt Rhodes (71) and Campbell Golf Coach John Crooks (71).  

Ballinger shot a 2-under par 34 on the back nine and led by one when the leaders turned to the front nine.  A bogey by Crooks at #2 would push the lead to 2 shots and Ballinger would miss several birdie chances to increase the lead.   But a birdie by Crooks at the 5th cut the lead to one and a 3-putt bogey by Ballinger at the 7th left Crooks and Ballinger tied for the lead with two holes to play.   Ballinger would make the deciding birdie at the 8th with both players making par at the final hole for the one shot margin.  

It was a popular win for so many that had played with and known Bobby over the years.  Bobby Ballinger will not be remembered as one of the best to ever play in the Brick Capital Classic.   But he did win at a time when Gerald Harrington, David Wicker, Press McPhaul and Craig Sturdivant were dominating the event winning 13 of 22 Brick Capitals from 1990 thru 2011.   They called him “Smooth” because that’s what his swing was.    Bobby Ballinger will be remembered as a Brick Capital Classic Champion – one that finally figured out his putter on that beautiful weekend in June of 2000.


Up Next – Saturday, June 20 – Craig Sturdivant – A 3-Time Brick Capital Classic Champion


About the Writer – Jon Hockaday is a PGA Life Member (Retired) that worked at several area courses over a 32-year career, including early in his career at Sanford Golf Club.  Hockaday played in 5 Brick Capitals before helping manage the tournament from 1987-1993.   Since 1993, Hockaday has been the voice on WFJA for Brick Capital updates and has seen all but two of the forty-three Brick Capital Classic Golf Tournaments – interviewing the last 27 winners on WFJA Sports.    He has also reported live updates from seven US Open Championships and is a Co-Host of “Golf Talk of the Carolinas” that airs on WFJA.


Be sure to listen in Saturday & Sunday of the Brick Capital Classic for leaderboard updates on WFJA Sports 105.5 FM.    Listen online at:   Brick Capital Classic updates on WFJA Sports are brought to you by our Advertising Partners:

Adams & Howell, Attorneys                    

Central Electric Membership Corp        

Central Moving & Storage                        

Comfort First                                              

Davenport Investments/Heather Wicker

Dental Care of Sanford/Teresa Long Wooddell                         


Drs. Lynn & Brian Smith                          


Elite Storage                                                

Holder insurance, Mark Midford            

Farm Bureau, Carson Lanier                     

First Bank Insurance – Trey Willimas & David Morse                                  

Jason Cain for NC House

Jones Printing Company

Lee Memory Garden

Michael Hattaway Family Dentistry

The Normann Financial Group

Resto Euro Automobile Service

Rogers-Pickard Funeral Home

Sanford Area Growth Alliance

Sanford Golf Club – David Von Canon

The Sanford Insurance Center – Ronnie Lemon & David Riddle

The Gentlemen’s Corner – Chris Dalrymple

Tracy Carter, Sheriff

Unfinished Furniture Outlet

Share this Article