Savannah Golf Championship underway on Skidaway Island

(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Professional golf has returned to Savannah for the first time in five years as the Savannah Golf Championship teed off at The Landings on Thursday.

The championship isn't even a full day old and already it has developed its own unique identity on the Tour. All week, players have been raving about the Deer Creek course at The Landings - most calling it the best they've seen on tour this season - and that was before they got to what, by the end of the week, could be one of the best scenes they'll see this year.

It's been a while since golf fans have been able to see the pros in Savannah. The city hasn't hosted a professional tournament since the Legends of Golf ended its run over at Savannah Harbor back in 2013. Fans tell us they wanted to make sure they got out there to catch it - and it's not just those watching from outside the ropes. The players themselves say they're glad to see professional golf return to Savannah, mainly because of the fans.

"I know at one time, the senior tour was over across the river. I went to a couple of those events and it was always fun, so I'm glad professional golf came back," said golf fan, Chris Willis.

"Obviously, we're in the South, so we're getting some southern hospitality. The fans are great. You can tell they're really embracing this, so it's good to see Savannah really put their arms around this event, and the players are benefitting," said Christian Brand, tied for lead at -7.

After just one round, Brand is already predicting the event will be a favorite among players for years to come.

That's definitely something the Tour and The Landings want to hear. They hope to see more good crowds on Friday, and even some great ones for the third and fourth rounds this weekend.

Scooner Cove, the area behind the green on the driveable par-4 fifth hole drew by far the largest crowd at Deer Creek. Fans waited to see tee shots hit onto the green and eagle possibilities. The party at 5 was where the Tour chose to do its first-ever Facebook Live, streaming the hole for an hour Thursday afternoon. Scooner's Cove is the creation of Landings Club members, who are hoping to make the area the place to be at the Savannah Golf Championship.

"It's really entertaining out here for everyone to watch. Every shot, there's an 'ooh' and an 'ah.' This really is the place to be out here," said Landings resident, Todd Norman. "This isn't exactly Arizona and the TPC out there, but this is our own little version, absolutely. I've seen one hit the pin, but then it bounced away about 10 feet, but that's the best that I've seen. The most entertaining are the ones that go in the water."

Things could get really lively at No. 5 if the wind dies down and players can hit the ball closer to the hole. There's also a concession stand at Scooner Cove, and the plan is every time someone makes an eagle this week, dollar burgers and dollar beers until that group finishes the hole. There were already two eagles Thursday morning.

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