Baseball, basketball, and soccer were the sports Stewart Whitt played while going up in Athens. But, it was in the sport of golf that he enjoyed his most success as he became one of top amateur golfers in the state of Alabama.
The decision to navigate to golf was an easy one for Whitt as his grandfather, father, and two brothers all played the sport.
“A combination of all of us would play in various scramble events throughout the area when I was young” said the 2023 Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame inductee. “I quit playing baseball when I was 13 and played basketball through high school, but golf was the sport I wanted to put the time and effort into.”
His endless days on the driving range, chipping and putting around the practice greens would pay off for Whitt as began his golfing career at Athens High School.
“I joined the golf team as a freshman. We had a lot of good golfers during my playing days at Athens High School. We had five players capable of shooting under par, which is unusual for a high school. We finished state runner-up during all of my four years at Athens High school.”
While the AHS golf team would enjoy great success during his career, Whitt would garner plenty of individual honors as well. He was twice named All-State (2002-2003) and was featured in the “Faces of the Crowd” section of Sports Illustrated and Golf World Magazine. He set a boys’ record for low round in the AJGA Henry Griffitts Rome Jr. Classic with a 62 in the final round that included 10 birdies and 8 pars. In 2002, he won both the SJGT Huntsville Invitational and the Ledges Invitational. He was a Top 5 finisher in the Alabama State Junior Amateur Tournament in 2002.
Longtime friend and former high school golf teammate Will Woodroof says Whitt’s demeanor on the golf course is one of his greatest strengths as a player.
“You never know when Stew hits a good shot or bad shot. His demeanor never changes. He is focused on the next shot. A great attitude and a steady disposition are qualities you will find in all good golfers. Stew certainly has those attributes,” said Woodroof.
Once his high school career was over, Whitt had to choose where he wanted to play golf at the next level. The decision was fairly easy, as Whitt comes from a family that are avid University of Alabama fans.
“I wanted to go play at a place that could make me a better golfer and offer a good education. Alabama offered what I was looking for,” said Whitt.
Whitt was a member of the Alabama golf team that won the Southeastern Conference Championship in 2008. An excellent student, he was twice named Academic All-SEC.
“Going to Alabama was a great experience. We won a conference championship, and it afforded me the opportunity to travel to places like Japan to play golf that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t gone to Alabama,” said Whitt.
Ironically, playing for the Crimson Tide is where Whitt found out that playing on the PGA Tour might not be in his future.
“We were playing the SEC Championship, and I had to play against two guys who went on to win on the PGA Tour. Matt Every from the University of Florida and Chris Kirk from the University of Georgia. I played about as well as I could and shot even par. They both sprayed the ball all over the course and shot four under. I knew then that I needed to buckle down in the classroom,” joked Whitt.
While playing on the PGA Tour didn’t happen for Whitt, he is still a top-flight amateur golfer. He qualified for the 2014 US Amateur Championship. He won the 2017 and 2018 Mid Am Championship and is a ten-time Canebrake Club Champion. Being the reigning Canebrake Champion propelled him to maybe his best victory as a golfer at the 2022 PGA National Club Championship held at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina. Representing his hometown, Whitt trailed by six shots going into the final round. He shot a four-under 68 to claim the championship by two strokes.
The Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame was founded in 2003, and this year marks the first year the board of directors has inducted a golfer.
“It is a great honor to be inducted with this class,” said Whitt. “My family played a huge part in my development as a golfer. I had a lot of support growing up and participating in the sport. I just always tried to hit the right shot at the right time. To be inducted into the Limestone County Hall of Fame as the first golfer is like icing on the cake for my career.”
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