By Pete Wlodkowski - Founder, amateurgolf.com
Timed perfectly to end on the first day of Autumn, amateur golf’s summer schedule of USGA events wound down with the men’s and women’s Senior Amateur finals being played on September 22nd. The men’s and women’s USGA Mid Amateur, for players aged 25 and over, concluded a week earlier.
But hey, it might not make sense for the USGA to hold their events anytime other than summer (try playing in Rye, New York in December!) but golf-crazed Southern Californians have plenty of competitive options throughout the fall and winter. After a rundown of the recent USGA performances by Southern Californians, I’ll tell you about some of your best tournament options for October through December.
At the USGA Women’s Mid Amateur in Texas, Corey Weworski of Carlsbad made a nice run at defending her title, getting as far as the quarters where she lost to Medalist Kerry Postillion. Before that, Weworski was faced with the unenviable task of playing her best golfing pal, Jamie Hoffman of Escondido, who she met at San Luis Rey Downs 12 years ago. Weworski and Hoffman have been close ever since, and Weworski found her 4-and-3 victory tasted bittersweet.
“I didn’t like it. Never again,” said Weworski, 43, after the match. “I was happy it was over.” (The USGA captured the spirit of their friendship in an article which you can find in their online archives at www.uswmidam.org).
At the USGA Men’s Mid Amateur, taking place simultaneously at the difficult Honors Course in Chattanooga, reining California Amateur Champion Don Dubois of Newport Beach and former Champion Tim Hogarth -- who played in the Masters in 1997 after winning the Mid Am in 1996 -- both qualified for match play but lost in the first round. Dubois still enjoyed a great 2005 - he was selected as SCGA player-of-the-year on September 14 and will accept the award at the SCGA annual meeting on November 1st.
Two-time USGA Senior Amateur Champ Kemp Richardson of Laguna Niguel, Patrick Carrigan of Walnut, and Jim Chang of Montebello fared even better, winning their first match. But it was Kevin Marsh of Las Vegas -- who defeated Chang in the 2nd round -- that will get the honor of being invited to the 2006 Masters as result of his smashing 10-and-9 victory over Carlton Forrester of Alabama in the final. The California connection? Marsh, 32, played for Pepperdine and won the 1996 SCGA Amateur before turning pro (he regained his amateur status in 2002). He even coached the Jason Gore-led Pepperdine team that won the NCAA’s in 1997 (Gore, by the way, had a little recent success of his own with a victory at the 84 Lumber Classic, but he’s going to have to work a bit more if he is to join Marsh at the Masters).
Later in September, the USGA Senior and Women’s Senior Amateurs were contested, the former at The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face, Georgia. I spoke to Jim Myers of Oceanside about his experience in this, his third USGA event. Myers qualified nicely at 148, won his first match 3-and-2, then lost to Champion Mike Rice of Houston, 4-and-2. “I had a great week,” said Myers, 60, while relaxing with his dog. “Just to qualify for any USGA event is an honor, and watching the other players at the range this week, I really felt like I could compete for the title.” Myers’ overall comments echoed the sentiments of many USGA qualifiers – as much as we love to criticize the USGA for the occasional gaff like an overly-tough US Open setup, they run the highest quality golf tournaments in the world, as they should.
After Rice defeated Myers, he faced Mitch Voges of Simi Valley. Voges founded Max Out golf, a high tech teaching organization, after a successful career in amateur golf that included a victory at the US Amateur in 1991. He has been a busy man lately after a story in Golf Magazine that featured his red-hot business, which I encourage you to check out at www.maxoutgolf.com. Other Southern Californians who found their way into the mix included Ted Lyford of Redlands, who gave medalist Billy Clagett a run for his money despite qualifying 18 shots higher; Kemp Richardson, who lost in the second round; and Karl Stewart, Sr. of Chino Hills, who lost a tough first round match on the 19th hole.
Southern California wasn’t quite as well represented at the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur at the historic Apawamis Club in Rye, New York, but we did have three ladies among the 64 match play qualifiers; Karen Mabli, Palos Verdes Estates, CA; San Diego City Sr. Women’s Champ Marsha Butler of San Diego; and Robyn Puckett of Irvine. Puckett and Mabli lost in the first round (Mabli’s match went 20 holes) while Butler lost a close one to Diane Lang of Florida, the eventual champion. Congratulations to all Southern Californians who played in USGA events in 2005, and I’m sorry if I missed anyone!
Hopefully, all this talk about tournaments has you interested in playing in some; fortunately we have a year round tournament season in California. Here are some events you might be interested in entering this fall:
October 15th and 16th, Dave Hopkins is running the Orange County Senior and Net Championships at 2005 SCGA Amateur site Tijeras Creek, and he always runs a great event. The Burbank City Amateur runs Oct 20-23 at De Bell Golf Course, a 1958 William Bell design. In November, you can play another one of Bell’s designs at Green Tree Golf Course in Victorville. Green Tree hosts the Hi-Desert Amateur on November 5th and 6th. And I would be remiss if I didn’t provide a shameless plug for one of amateurgolf.com’s new events, The San Diego County Amateur on November 7th and 8th at Fallbrook’s Golf Club of California. We founded this event with the goal of providing an annual test at one of San Diego’s fine new private clubs, and we field Scratch, Senior Scratch, and Net Divisions. Tournament-savvy players converge on Coronado Island at the end of the month for the Coronado City Championship, Nov 26th and 27th. December kicks off with the Desert Amateur at Landmark Golf Club in Indio, with a very reasonable entry fee of $190 including 2 weekend rounds plus a practice round.
You can find information, and download entry forms for these events at www.amateurgolf.com. Become an insider by joining our premium membership program, which easily pays for itself at just $35 per year, including a subscription to The Golfer Magazine, and product sampling from companies like Bridgestone Golf and UST Golf Shaft.