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As some four-balls cancel, others like The Egg Invite thrive
The Mayfield Sand Ridge Golf Club, host of the Egg Invitational
The Mayfield Sand Ridge Golf Club, host of the Egg Invitational

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely altered the golf landscape in 2020. Professional majors rescheduled, USGA championships cut from 14 to 4, tournament dates shuffled, many events cancelled.

In the golf world, there was hope early in the pandemic that things might return to normal once the summer hit and many of amateur golf's biggest events might go off as scheduled. And while national events like the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women's Amateur were conducted quite successfully by the USGA (albeit without national qualifying), many tournament directors found it impractical to conduct their events and were forced to cancel.

The game of golf certainly wasn't the issue -- golf proved early on that it was a sport that could be played safely during a pandemic. The larger issues were travel-related.

Consider the John R. Williams Invitational at Oak Hill in Rochester, New York. Coming off of a course renovation in 2019, the popular four-ball "major" was preparing for a big return in 2020. But when the number of states falling under the state's COVID-19 quarantine order (requiring people traveling from those states to quarantine for 14 days upon entry) topped 30, the committee was forced to cancel.

Related: The Majors of Four-Ball Golf

Another major four-ball, the Anderson Memorial at Winged Foot, fell prey to COVID in a different way. Originally scheduled for June, the event was rescheduled to late September as the club prepared to host the U.S. Open. But with the Open getting pushed back to September itself, and COVID-19 still affecting travel into the state, the Anderson was cancelled.


The Mayfield Sand Ridge Club

But while some have seen their championships derailed in 2020, others are thriving. One of the unexpected implications of the pandemic is the increased participation in the game of golf (as well as an all-time record for equipment sales which was set in July), as well as in competitive golf, perhaps as people vacation less and compete more. As a result, some tournaments are seeing their fields fill quickly with lengthy waiting lists.

A case study of this is The Egg Invitational, played at The Mayfield Sand Ridge Club in Chardon, Ohio. Garrett Korte, the head professional at the host club, reports that the club was taken aback by the speed at which the field filled this year.

"We speculate that it is due to the overall increased golf traffic derived from COVID-19 related policies and changes," said Korte.

Part of this is the less restrictive travel restrictions in the state of Ohio (only four mostly-rural states are on their quarantine list), and part is simply the pent-up demand to play and compete.

36 two-man teams (representing some three dozen clubs) will tee it up at Mayfield Sand Ridge for the 7th annual event, compared to 24 teams in 2019. A seventh different champion is guaranteed as the 2019 champions Nick Fiori & Connor Pratt are not in the field. But the 2018 champs Jim Krivanek & Brian Smith will be going for their second title in three years.

Another dynamic of the fuller, deeper fields is better scoring, and the tournament record of 199 set by Krivanek and Smith may well be in jeopardy if the weather cooperates.

The Egg was already widely known for its name and for its logo, but in 2020 it should also be known as a prime example of a tournament that has seen its fortunes rise as others have fallen.

ABOUT THE The Egg Invitational

The Egg Invitational is a two-day 54 hole scratch Four-Ball event. 36 Holes are slated for the first day of competition with a shotgun start and 18 holes of play on the final day. The Egg aims to bring together players from the nation’s finest facilities for two days of great golf and camaraderie.

The host course is a Tom Fazio design ranked as high as #52 on Golf Digest’s America’s 100 Greatest Courses. Situated in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, the course has hosted the MAC Championship and NCAA Division I Men’s Central Regional, and features gently rolling countryside, dramatic elevation changes, unique wetlands, and a plentiful mix of mature woods.

On-site lodging is available upon request.

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