Future Masters photo

A golfer tees off on the 15th hole as playing partners watch to the side during Friday's round of the71st Press Thornton Future Masters at the Dothan Country Club.

Jeff Klauk knows a thing or two about golf courses.

He basically grew up on one as the son of Fred Klauk, who for 27 years was the course superintendent at TPC Sawgrass, the world headquarters of golf in Ponte Vedra, Fla.

Jeff also played on the PGA Tour and other professional circuits for years. He still has status on the Korn Ferry Tour, where he last won an event in 2008.

In the spring of 2012, he underwent brain surgery to identify the cause of epileptic seizures. He doesn’t play on the pro tours any more, but physically has been doing fine.

“Lately it’s been good, so hopefully it will stay that way,” Klauk said of his health.

He was back on the course this week in Dothan, but it was in the role as a proud father supporting his son instead of trying to drop putts and shoot a low score.

Jackson Klauk is a 16-year-old from St. Augustine, Fla., who was playing for the first time in the Press Thornton Future Masters. He shot rounds of 77 and 79 over two days and failed to make the cut set Friday.

In the early 1990s, Jeff didn’t make the cut, either, during his only two tries in the 13-14 age division of the Future Masters.

But the memories of playing here remain fond.

“It was always one of the best tournaments and it still is,” Klauk said. “I know a lot of the college coaches are sad that they can’t be here this week with all the stuff that’s going on in the world, but it’s just a great track.”

Klauk knows the experience his son got this week will benefit him on down the line, not just because of the competition he was facing, but also because of the challenges the Dothan Country Club layout presents.

He’s certainly well-qualified to pass judgment.

“This golf course is fantastic,” Klauk said. “It’s a golf course a lot of kids don’t get to play. I’m talking about really fast greens. There are some hills, it’s narrow.

“They are used to just hitting a driver and you have to start using your course management out there. That’s the best thing for them. It’s perfect for my son. It’s a good learning experience. I know it’s hard for the kids to look at it that way.”

He gets more nervous watching his son than when he was making a living playing the game.

“Absolutely. No question about it,” Klauk said.

Klauk gives his son golf tips and is very supportive, but he also knows when to keep his distance.

“As a kid, a lot of times they say, ‘Hey, stay away,’” Klauk said. “My wife, Shanna, was out there.”

While he didn’t follow Jackson on the final few holes of his round, he was there waiting to offer a few words of encouragement at the conclusion of the round.

“It’s just a great golf course for the development of players,” Klauk said. “Obviously the ones that are very good are the ones that are going to win. Of course, you can say that about any tournament, but you’ve got to be on your game to play well.”

The Dothan Country Club course certainly puts them to the test.

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