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It was a pretty afternoon at the University of Alabama golf course in Tuscaloosa when undergraduateJim “Scrappy” Edgemon was playing behind another golfer. Edgemon was standing on a tee 160-yards away waiting for the golfer to complete some precision putting drills on the par-3 16th hole. The distracted golfer finally waved for him to hit up the green, and he did. “The green-side golfer recalls thinking, “’Man, that looks pretty good.’ It took one hop and started rolling toward the hole, so I pulled the pin and it went in for a one. That was my introduction to Scrappy Edgemon.” That diligent putter was a young Jerry Pate, a fellow University of Alabama student who eventually went on to win the 1974 U.S. Amateur and the 1976 U.S. Open.
Twenty years later, when Edgemon was in need of an architect to design the golf course at Kiva Dunes, he didn’t turn to Fazio, Nicklaus, Dye or any of the other top names eager to be associated with the property. He chose Pate. “Jerry Pate has been a winner at everything he’s ever done,” Edgemon says. “I had seen his work and I knew his passion. I knew, when given the best land, he would do the best job. And he did. Kiva Dunes is recognized all over the world as one of golf’s best and most unique challenges.”
Pate didn’t shy away from the challenge of heading up the design and construction of the course. He knew of the property already, having seen the grounds back in 1985. “I remember thinking at the time, ‘Golf architects would kill for this piece of property,” Pate says.
Today, the Kiva Dunes Golf Course consistently ranks as one of the top courses in the country and the top course in Alabama. And it’s all thanks to a one-in-a-million shot and a celebratory handshake between two golf-loving undergrads.