Pros and elite ams gather for 23rd Straight Down Fall Classic
- San Luis Obispo G&CC
- San Luis Obispo G&CC

The 23rd Straight Down Fall Classic tees off at San Luis Obispo Country Club this weekend. The scratch pro-am is known for bringing a field of PGA Tour pros and elite amateurs to California’s Central Coast and providing fans the unique opportunity to walk down the fairways alongside Tour stars like Kenny Perry and Loren Roberts.

The event’s old-school feel is emphasized by its free admission and low concession prices, as well. It harkens back to a previous era in professional golf, and emphasizes the ethos of Straight Down, the San Luis Obispo-based clothing company that conducts the event.

Straight Down’s founder, Mike Rowley, also is a strong player in his own right. He won this year’s Northern California Senior Amateur and made match play at last year’s U.S. Senior Amateur.

The pros in the Fall Classic get most of the attention – this year’s field also includes Jason Gore, Arron Oberholser, Rod Pampling, Paul Stankowski, Edward Loar and Ricky Barnes – but the tournament also attracts an elite crop of amateurs.

That group includes Buddy Marucci, who was runner-up to Tiger Woods in the 1995 U.S. Amateur, was the victorious U.S. captain in the 2009 Walker Cup and won the U.S. Senior Amateur. His partner will be Bob Ford, the longtime pro at Seminole and Oakmont who serves as the first-tee starter at the U.S. Open.

Other noted amateurs in the field include former U.S. Four-Ball champion Todd Mitchell, former U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Kevin Marsh, Randy Haag, Casey Boyns, John Pate and the Chicago Cubs’ Ian Happ, a scratch player whose father, Keith, worked as an agronomist for the USGA Green Section for more than two decades.

Happ, who’s playing the Fall Classic for a second consecutive year, will partner with Pampling, a three-time Tour winner. Pampling is making his PGA Tour debut, as is 14-time Tour winner Kenny Perry. Perry also is a two-time winner of the U.S. Senior Open.

The USGA ties run deep at the Fall Classic. Gore, Maruccia and Loar are former Walker Cup team members. Gore, who now works in the USGA’s player relations department, plays with Marsh, his former Pepperdine teammate. Loar is playing alongside Mitchell, who also was runner-up in the 2008 U.S. Mid-Am. Barnes, the longtime Tour player, won the 2003 U.S. Amateur.

Boyns already has one victory this week, having claimed the California Senior Amateur at Wilshire Country Club. Boyns, a Northern California Golf Association Hall of Famer, also has won two California Amateurs.

Randy Haag and John Pate are other competitors who will be familiar to fans of California amateur golf. Pate is playing with his brother, the former Ryder Cup player Steve Pate, while Haag is competing with Will Hutter of the Olympic Club.

PGA Tour caddie Corby Segal and Southern California club pro Scott Heyn won last year’s Fall Classic. It was their third victory in the last seven years.

Roberts, an eight-time PGA Tour winner, also was runner-up in the 1994 U.S. Open. Oberholser is another San Luis Obispo and former Tour winner who will be in the field. The former San Jose State star is playing alongside Trent Tessler, his former high school and college teammate. Oberholser won the 2006 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and now serves as a Golf Channel analyst.

The Fall Classic is the only time each year that PGA Tour winners visit the California Coast between Monterey and Los Angeles counties.

The Straight Down Fall Classic begins with a Friday pro-am before two rounds of tournament play. Saturday’s tee times will begin at 8 a.m., while the final round will begin at 7:30 Sunday morning.

ABOUT THE Straight Down Fall Classic

Annual invitational event sponsored by apparel manufacturer Straight Down and supported by sponsor companies from the California Central Coast.

Format is one pro, paired with one amateur -- pros are PGA Club pros and members of various professional tours with enough "big names" to bring out thousands of spectators. And the spectators are rewarded with up- close access normally not found at a PGA Tour event. The ALS Foundation was named as the designated beneficiary in 2009.

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