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The return of the state am?
09 May 2020
by Chris Brauner of AmateurGolf.com

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- Texas Golf Association video screen shot
- Texas Golf Association video screen shot

The coronavirus pandemic has rearranged the 2020 competitive golf schedule. Professional majors have been rescheduled or cancelled, the college season was cut short, and the Majors of Amateur Golf calendar thinned out.

These are the amateur majors in the U.S. that have already been cancelled: the NCAA Championship, the Augusta National Women's Amateur, the Dogwood, the Monroe, the Southwestern, the Northeast, the Sahalee Players, the Women's Southern, the Women's Eastern, the Women's Porter Cup, and four USGA amateur championships (the two Four-Balls and the two Juniors).

Related: List of amateur tournaments affected by the coronavirus outbreak

Others like the Curtis Cup and Sunnehanna have been rescheduled, and still more are in limbo, planning to proceed as scheduled but wary of any new outbreaks that might threaten. And then there is the question of how far and how often players will be willing to travel to compete until the pandemic is perceived to be under control.

An unexpected beneficiary of the coronavirus-induced chaos? It might just be the state amateur championship.

Once considered among the most important tournaments to win, state amateurs have seen their fortunes decline over the years. Top players have increasingly elected to mimic the tour pros that the strive to become by traveling the country to play the best from other states, first as juniors and then as amateurs.

Consider these numbers:

• Only 2 of the top 10-ranked players from California (and 7 of the top-20) in the year-end Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Amateur Ranking played in the 2019 California Amateur. No. 3 Cameron Sisk, No. 10 Noah Woolsey and No. 11 Devon Bling were the highest-ranked players in the field.

• In Texas, none of the state's top-10-ranked players (and only 3 of the top 20) competed in the Texas Amateur. The highest ranked player was No. 12 Blaine Hale.

• In Florida, the only top-10 player in the 2019 Florida Amateur was No. 10 Luke Gifford. Four of the top 20 players in the state were in the field.

Some smaller states fare better. In Massachusetts, the top 3 players in the state (Jimmy Hervol, Matt Parziale, Steven DiLisio) played in the 2019 Massachusetts Amateur, as did 5 of the top 10. But Massachusetts is an outlier in the much larger trend -- top players have been skipping their state ams in large numbers, choosing instead to travel elsewhere.

Could this change in 2020? The signs point to "yes".

As society re-opens, we're not seeing a mad rush to get back onto planes, into restaurants, into stores, etc. People are rightly being cautious, easing back in instead of diving. So too it might be for amateur golf. If more top players stay closer to home, we might expect to see more of them competing for their state amateur titles.

We will keep a close eye on this and follow up as the summer progresses.

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