It's the appetizer before the main course, but in a lot of ways, it could be the most important meal for Britt Pavelonis.
This weekend's Irvin Cobb Championship at Paxton Park Golf Course in Paducah, Ky., kicks off Pavelonis fall golf schedule that will include the Illinois Open in August, as well as, stops in Oklahoma, Iowa, Nebraska and Arkansas.
81st Annual Irvin Cobb ChampionshipsWhen: July 15-16
Where: Edwin J. Paxton Park Golf Course, Paducah, Ky.
Schedule: Friday, Pro-Am; Saturday-Sunday 36-hole Tournament
Local Tee Times: Bobby Pavelonis, 9:30 a.m.; Mark Faulkner, 9:50 a.m.; Britt Pavelonis, 1:30 p.m.
Fresh off a fourth place finish in Michigan at the 2017 Timber Lakes Mid-Summer Classic, Pavelonis is looking forward to the Irvin Cobb where he is no stranger.
Pavilions has been playing in the event since he was 16-years-old and now 48, the Harrisburg native said he has probably missed only a handful of events.
He has finished second five times and the last was two years ago when Rick Cochran won the event.
Cochran and Pavelonis will find themselves paired again, along with Trey Shirley in the last group Saturday that tees off at 1:30 p.m.
"Rick is my guy and we go pretty far back, Pavelonis said as he prepares for today's (Friday's) Pro-Am at Paxton Park. "This tournament is the one that I look at on the calendar that gets me started in my preparation for all the other big tournaments. This is the one I look forward to and it's always fun to play.
"I was down at Paxton Park last week and the greens were good. They've added a couple of ponds on No. 14 and 15 and added some stuff around No. 8. There is plenty of water now and I really like what they have done with the layout."
Last year's winner, Patrick Newcomb, who played collegially at Murray State will not defend his title and instead is playing in Canada.
The Irvin Cobb is held annually on the third full weekend in July is a tournament that features professionals and amateurs alike. The tournament is a 36-hole event and will be comprised of 44 professionals and 88 amateurs.
Past participants in the Cobb have gone on to win over 80 PGA Tour events and 30 Champions Tour events. They have won 1 PGA Championship (and a Runner-Up), 4 PGA Senior Championships, 2 Masters (and a Runner-Up), 2 US Opens, 1 Senior US Open, 2 Senior British Opens, 1 Senior Players Championship, for a total of 13 majors. They have also been on 4 Ryder Cup Teams. That's a pretty good resume for the quality of competition in this event.
With experience on his side, Pavelonis said there isn't any secrets or tips about how to play Paxton that any other pro probably doesn't already know.
"You just have to make some putts," he said. "That what tends to win events like this. There are a couple of difficult holes and if you can make par on those, you feel pretty good. They always do a good job of putting the flag in tough places, they like to tease you, but the important things is to know when to be aggressive and when to just shoot for the middle of the green."
Pavelonis older brother Bobby will be participating in the Irvin Cobb. Bobby, who is a teaching pro at Whitmoor Country Club in St. Louis, will be teeing off 9:50 a.m.
Mark Faulkner, of Marion, is another southern Illinois representative playing in the Irvin Cobb and will be teeing off at 9:50 a.m.
Michael Dann covers prep and college sports for the Harrisburg Register, Eldorado Journal & The Gallatin County Democrat. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.