Sub-par temps, par golf

February 1, 2007 By    

Like many of his peers in the LP-gas business, Johnny Williamson, branch manager of Four Point L.P. Gas, has seen the Georgia retailer’s sales volume stagnate over the past four heating seasons as a result of unseasonably warm weather that’s plagued many areas of the United States.

However, over time, conditions do change. That could be the case this winter in his part of the Deep South.

“As things stand now, it appears our gallonage this winter might be a bit better than it’s been in five years if we continue to have cool weather in February, March and April. Our heating-degree day count, through mid-January was up slightly, and our retail sales reflect it. From all that I’ve heard from other propane retailers in the state, they’re experiencing similar results. Still, all of us are at the mercy of Mother Nature.”

Every propane marketer in Georgia, including Williamson, has their fingers crossed because the weather in February, march and April is extremely unpredictable. Weather records, in fact, show that one more than occasion Atlanta has recorded freezing rain, sleet and heavy snow during early April, only to experience temperatures in the high 80s just two or three days afterwards.

Four Point L.P. Gas, located in Woodbury about 60 miles north of Columbus, is one of four branch operations of Quality Propane, based in nearby Griffin and owned by Ed Bistany.

“Prior to this heating season, I was able to play golf several weekends during November, December and January,” said Williamson, who plays to a six handicap and captured the 2006 Propane Golfers Association medal-handicap tournament last year in Florida.

“That hasn’t been the case this heating season. In January, for example, temperatures have been ranging from lows in the 30s to highs in the mid-50s. We’ve been busier than usual delivering gas, and I haven’t been able to play a round of golf. But I’m not complaining.”

As a consequence, he suggested, his golf game may be a bit rusty when he returns to Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Tarpon Springs outside Tampa June 14, 15 and 16 to defend his title. A field of 60-plas contestants from 20 states is expected for the 23rd annual, three-day event, jointly sponsored by LP Gas Magazine and the Propane Golfers Association.

Last June, the 41-year-old Georgia native, a colon cancer survivor, fired a 54-hole score of 76-83-77 – 236 to win his first title. Trailing on the final day by one stroke and playing the par-71 6,600-yard Island course, he rallied to defeat fellow Georgia retailer Joel Garrett of Garrettgas (Hawkinsville) by six strokes thanks to posting pars with seven one-putt greens. Garrett shot an 84-74-84 —244.

“My putting saved me,” admitted Williamson, who also won the Courtesy Gas 18-hole putting tournament with a score of 34. “I’m really looking forward to competing in this year’s event and, hopefully, I’ll be able to play even better this time around.”

For details about the event, the course or accommodations, check out the website at www.propanegolfers.com. Or contact tournament Executive Director Zane Chastain (218-525-6424) at the Propane Golfers Association, 5107 London Rd., Duluth, MN 55804.

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