With Seminole as a backdrop, Coleman the pinnacle of mid-am golf
24 Apr 2019
by Julie Williams of AmateurGolf.com

see also: George L. Coleman Invitational, Seminole Golf Club

No. 14 at Seminole Golf Club (Photo courtesy Seminole GC)
No. 14 at Seminole Golf Club (Photo courtesy Seminole GC)

This year when Mike McCoy arrives at Seminole Golf Club for the George L. Coleman Invitational, his name will appear in the locker room in one additional place. McCoy, winner of the prestigious amateur event in 2011, ’13 and ’15, enters this year’s Coleman after having won the Seminole Pro-Member last month with partner Cameron Tringale.

“It’s an iconic locker room,” McCoy said in the run-up to this year’s tournament. “It’s the one that many clubs try to model their locker rooms after, and they have the boards up with all of the different tournament winners. So any time you get your name on one of those boards in that locker room, it’s a real honor.”

McCoy, the 56-year-old Iowa Golf Hall of Famer who won the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur and made the 2015 U.S. Walker Cup squad, spends little time focusing on it. He’s not even sure how many times he has won the event. This year, he will compete in the Coleman’s senior division as his son Nate, 28, plays in the mid-amateur division for the first time. Nate McCoy is a former Iowa State player who spent the past few years playing professionally.

For the top mid-amateurs in the country, the Coleman is the unofficial start of the spring season. McCoy calls it as strong a field as you’ll see throughout the year. The invitation to play it is a coveted one.

And experience at Seminole goes a long way.

The Juno Beach, Fla., course is considered to be among Donald Ross’ best designs, and is one of the premier courses in the Southeast. Winds off the Atlantic Ocean and very fast greens give Seminole teeth. As Ben Hogan famously said, "If you can play Seminole, you can play any course in the world.”

ERC Soft Yellow
(Photo courtesy Seminole GC)
McCoy names the closing stretch of Nos. 16-18 as a pivotal point in the championship because so much can happen over those three holes that are right next to the ocean.

“The greens are kind of vintage Donald Ross where they feed to the edges. It’s hard to hold the ball on those greens, particularly on a windy day,” McCoy said. “That’s a pretty tough stretch, and the tournaments have been won and lost on those three holes.”

It’s not uncommon for a crowd to form there, of both competitors and members.

There’s no question that experience is valuable around Seminole, but McCoy points to caddie influence as being crucial as well. Interestingly, one of those men, Adam Armagost, is entered in this year’s tournament. Armagost formerly caddied for Mark Calcavecchia, and has been caddying at Seminole for nearly 15 years. He also caddies at Pine Valley.

Armagost was runner-up at the Gasparilla Senior Invitational earlier this spring. Gasparilla winner Mike Finster is also in the Coleman field, and both are men who tournament chairman Alan Fadel proudly lists as new faces in this field. Invitations also went out to several of the top mid-amateurs from around the world. That's a new element to this year's event.

“We just thought that it would be good for the event to include some of these international players that are of the highest quality and maybe they’ll continue to come in the future,” Fadel said.

As the Coleman goes more international in scope, it will offer opportunities to international players who often don’t have as many places to play as American mid-amateurs do. Fadel is excited at the prospect of having the world’s best players at this level all in the same place, and seeing what happens from there.

The Coleman is quickly becoming the place for mid-amateurs and seniors to play, and that fits Fadel’s mission. This year’s field includes 99 players, two-thirds of which are mid-amateurs. Fadel is an accomplished player in his own right, having logged top-5 finishes in both Coleman divisions, and will play in the senior division this week.

“The golf course is phenomenal and the conditions are always optimal, and I think playing under those conditions – firm, fast with some wind, greens that play much smaller than their size – puts an onus on multiple parts of the game,” Fadel said.

The caliber of players match the caliber of course.

ABOUT THE Coleman Invitational

One of the very best amateur events all year long played on the last great private course designed by Donald Ross. The course, not long by today's standards, lies hard by the Atlantic Ocean. Oceanic winds and very fast greens give this course teeth. Ben Hogan once said 'If you can play Seminole, you can play any course in the world.'

The tournament is a 54-hole stroke play invitational that draws an elite field of mid- amateurs and seniors.

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