The biggest week in amateur golf features four historic championships
Thanks to Alex Ross, the summer amateur circuit has already turned heads. Ross is the Davidson player who posted a crazy 15-under 57 in the third round of last week’s Dogwood Invitational
, the unofficial kick-off to the summer season.
Most of the men who compete on this level make the same stops from week to week, playing some of the country’s most historic venues during tournaments that have gone on for dozens of years.
If last week was the unofficial start of the season, then the biggest week on the amateur golf calendar is coming up. U.S. Open week will be an excellent showcase for amateur golf, with 16 amateurs currently in the field at Pebble Beach, including 11 who got in through sectional qualifying
In addition, four major amateur tournaments will be played in all corners of the U.S., each with a rich history and talented fields that demonstrate the depth and health of competitive amateur golf.
AmateurGolf.com takes a closer look at the four major amateur tournaments that help make up the biggest week in amateur golf. Each will be played June 12-15.
The Sunnehanna is one of those tournaments that shines a light on the next level of PGA Tour professionals. The beauty is that there are plenty of lifelong amateurs sprinkled into that mix, too.
Rickie Fowler, for example, won back-to-back Sunnehanna titles in 2007-08, but three years later, his Walker Cup teammate Nathan Smith
won the title at the age of 32.
Smith, now 40, joined the Tournament Committee for last year's tournament.
Recent Duke graduate Alex Smalley
will be back this year to defend his title amid some of college golf’s best.
The Sunnehanna Amateur was inaugurated in July of 1954 -- it was the first country club that sponsored 72-hole stroke play competition for amateurs in the United States. The tournament is played on a classic A.W. Tillinghast design. Only one other amateur tournament in the United States can list the likes of Chick Evans, Arnold Palmer, Julius Boros, Art Wall, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and Rickie Fowler as contestants: the U.S. Amateur. For Nicklaus, it was his first-ever major amateur event, as he finished fifth as a 15-year-old in 1956.
A year ago, the Monroe Invitational was a breakthrough for Kevin O’Connell
, the 30-year-old who went on to win the U.S. Mid-Amateur in his home state of North Carolina.
O’Connell will not be able to defend his title this week for that reason. Courtesy of his Mid-Am win, he earned a spot at Pebble Beach this week.
The Monroe Invitational is one of the oldest amateur tournaments in the United States dating back to 1937. Monroe Golf Club in Pittsford, N.Y., has hosted the event for 79 years and will once again host the event from June 12-15.
Interestingly, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley is among the past champions in this event, and so is Dustin Johnson.
For now, details of the Southwestern Amateur remain the same. It’s among the longest running amateur events in the western United States and will celebrate its 104th anniversary this week.
This year’s event will take place June 12-15 on the club’s par 70, 7,019-yard Jack Nicklaus Signature Cochise course.
When the Southwestern Amateur tees off for the 105th time next year, however, it will be with a unique twist. The long-running tournament is expanding from just the top-ranked male amateurs to include a women’s division. The 2020 Southwestern Amateur will also include a mixed-team division.
The 2020 tournament will remain a four-day event and will be played on two Desert Mountain courses. The team event will be played the first two days while both men’s and women’s individual play will be over four days and 72 holes.
There’s familiar name behind this Columbus, Ga., based amateur event: Fred Haskins. That’s a name now synonymous with college golf excellence. Since 1971, college golf’s player of the year – as voted on by players, coaches and media – has been named the Haskins Award winner.
Haskins was the longtime pro at the Country Club of Columbus (Ga.), who mentored dozens of men on their way to successful amateur and college careers.
“He was an interesting guy, unassuming to a large extent, loved for others to have the fanfare and have the success,” Brian Stubbs, Executive Director of the Fred Haskins Commission, said of Haskins, who passed away in 1981. “(The award is) a tribute to him but also sends a clear message that it’s a village that gets you here.”
The field features many of the nation’s top amateurs, from all divisions, as well as top mid-amateurs.