The following tournaments are not limited to just scratch, or near scratch golfers. They offer either flighted play, or net divisions. You’ve taken a golf trip – why not take a trip that includes a golf tournament, so you experience all the good feelings that pros and the best amateurs get? Hopefully, you can avoid the bad, like flight delays and lost clubs. But even if you don’t avoid those pitfalls, you will get a new appreciation for them when you hear the commentators or players discuss them on TV.
1.) January 6-9, 2013 – The Harder Hall Women’s Invitational: Let’s start with the women. Without a doubt, there is less competitive golf available for ladies, especially events worthy of travelling to. Each January, the Florida “Orange Blossom Women’s Tour” of three events features an interesting mixture of young LPGA Tour hopefuls and more experienced players who have been part of these events for years. The first of those events, The Harder Hall, offers the Ben Roman division for women with handicaps between 7.0 and 24.4 (Players are flighted after two rounds). You’ll compete from the forward tees, while mingling with some of the best young players who you might see on TV one day. The entry fee of $250 will leave you with a nice lodging budget. “It’s nice to spend a week or two out of the cold weather, said Tournament Chairman Carol Semple Thompson, an amateur legend in her own right. “Our field runs the gamut from Charley Hull, who will be on the LPGA Tour one day, to a 15 handicapper who may or may not break 100.” Info: www.harderhallwomens.com.
2.) May 4-8 – The 12th Annual amateurgolf.com Two Man Links Championship at Bandon Dunes: The last time we surveyed avid golfers, Bandon Dunes was number one on their “destination wish list.” With four highly-ranked true links courses (and a new 13-hole par-3 layout) on the Oregon Coast, it’s no wonder why. But why play with your same guys every day? The Two Man Links Championship attracts players from around the U.S., Canada, and England that compete in a 72-hole best-ball format in Scratch, Senior-Scratch, or Net Divisions. (Total combined handicap in the Net Division should not exceed 32 with a max differential of 10) The tournament is run like any of the top national events normally reserved for just scratch players – there are two tournament dinners, sponsor prizes, tournament awards, professional photography, and of course your name on huge scoreboards that follow you around the resort. Don’t worry, people only look at the top of scoreboards… Entry fees start at just over $2000 per player double occupancy, including four rounds of golf, four nights lodging, two dinners, and prizes. Info: www.bandondunes2manlinks.com
3.) February/March, 2013 – The San Francisco City Championship: As if you needed a reason to visit San Francisco. This match player tournament is the oldest continuously-held city championship in the United States. There are, of course, championship, women’s, and senior champions crowned each year. But there is also a very competitive “Open” Division, which is limited to the first 256 entries received. Contestants play in an 18-hole qualifying round at Lincoln Park. Flights of 32 players are based on qualifying score. There may be some time in between the qualifying round and first match, but what better chance to enjoy everything the Bay Area has to offer. Just bring your rain suit and best waterproof shoes. Info: www.sfgolfchampionship.com.
4.) May 16-19, 2013 – BMW Charity Pro-Am : Here’s something different. Have you ever wondered what it’s like to play in front of a gallery? (Hint, work on your bunker play…) There are only a handful of PGA or Nationwide Tour events where an amateur can play all 72 holes as a partner with a touring pro. The privilege will cost a bit more than the typical golf vacation or tournament (starting at $8,500 per player) but the opportunity to mingle with pros and celebrities, and compete for a chance to play the final round (16 teams make it to Sunday while the rest stop at 54 holes) is the chance of a lifetime. Who knows, you might even get some TV coverage. According to Director of Sales Mike Ivester, the tournament has become a destination event for golfers, many of whom bring friends and wives. “Last year, we had players from 25 states and 5 countries,” said Ivester. “The balance of the amateurs are from the Carolinas.” Info: www.bmwusfactory.com/charity-golf
5.) August, 2013 – The Golf.com World Amateur Handicap Championship: Myrtle Beach has the most courses per square mile of any golf destination in the world, and they need it to run this huge tournament, with more than 3,000 golfers from all 50 states and 20 foreign countries. Players are flighted by handicap, and don’t even think about sandbagging – play is monitored closely by the Tournament Committee to ensure fairness. Each of the flight winners competes in the final round for a chance at the overall title. In addition to the tournament, fun activities include “The World’s Biggest 19th Hole” – a golf exhibition with food, equipment booths and demos, and discount equipment opportunities. Info: www.worldamgolf.com.