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LIVE SCORING: The Rice Planters Amateur celebrates 50 years
23 Jun 2022
by Sean Melia of AmateurGolf.com

see also: Rice Planters Amateur Championship, Snee Farm Country Club

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Aidan Kramer (Georgia Tech photo)
Aidan Kramer (Georgia Tech photo)

Who is going to put their name on the Rice Planters trophy this year?

It's a little early to tell, but there is a good chance that player could be a Georgia Tech Yellowjacket. Aidan Kramer paces players at the top of a bunched leaderboard after 36-holes after rounds of 68 and 66 getting him to 10-under at Snee Farm Country Club. His teammate Andy Mao is tied with Luke Wells of Rutgers a stroke back at 9-under. There are 30 players in red numbers with one round to play.

Keep an eye on Nick Mayfield, tied for fourth at 7-under. The Winthrop University golfer from Rock Hill, South Carolina is coming off a win at the South Carolina Match Play last week. He opened with the tournament-low round of 8-under 64 before sliding to a 73 today after recording bogeys on the final three holes.

With a little rest tonight, who knows?

Check back for a tournament summary tomorrow. In the meantime, check out the story we did in April about this historic tournament's 50 year run!

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The Rice Planters Amateur Championship celebrates its 50th playing at Snee Farm CC in Charleston, South Carolina from June 20-24.

Over the last 50 years, the Rice Planters has been a staple in the amateur golf schedule, boasting a list of exceptional winners on a challenging, exciting golf course. While events have popped up all over the southeast since 1973, the Rice Planters energy and ability to identify golfers who are ready to make the leap makes it a must play for any amateur.

The story of the Rice Planters starts in a part of the country with plenty of water, but not much rice planting - Niagara Falls, NY. Upstate New York is home to the Porter Cup, which is the event the Rice Planters was modeled after.

Dick Horne, the founder of the Rice Planters, loved everything about the Porter Cup when he competed there in 1973. There was nothing like it in the southeast, so Horne decided Charleston was going to be home to a new amateur tournament.


- Bobby Carrier Photography photo

With the help of Dick Harvey, the chairman of the Porter Cup, Horne had the Rice Planters up and running in the fall of 1973 at Snee Farm CC in Mt. Pleasant. Things moved quickly from conception to the first tee shot in October.

The field of 51 competitors in the inaugural event was mainly comprised of Snee Farm members. Horne hoped access to the Porter Cup mailing list would make it easy to find players. It didn’t work out as he planned.

“I got no response, to speak of, so I got a sheet of paper and put an entry form together and walked downtown Charleston and saw people I knew who played golf, told them we were starting a tournament and asked them to play,” Horne said in a 2012 Post and Courier article by Tommy Braswell.

In 1974, the field doubled in size and the tournament took place in the summer, not the fall. Dick Horne played in his beloved event and finished in second, losing in a playoff to his friend Bill Harvey (no relation to Dick Harvey of the Porter Cup).

While the first year of a tournament brings excitement and adrenaline and the second year can survive on the success of the first year, it’s the third year that can make or break an event. The 1975 Rice Planters transformed from a hyper-local tournament to one that attracted players from farther afield.


- Bobby Carrier Photography photo

The 1975 winner, Andy Bean, hailed from the mighty University of Florida golf team. One of the handful of stipulations Bean made in exchange for his attendance was he wanted to bring along some fellow Gators.

Horne, eager to bring in more talent, rolled out the red carpet for Bean and his buddies. It proved a great strategy. Following the win, Bean turned pro.

Current tournament director Bruce Fleming said that Horne always told the players at the tournament’s closing dinner to go out and find two players that are better than them and bring them back next year. Horne has always strived to build out exceptional fields. A glance at the list of winners proves Horne succeeded.

Horne held up his end of the bargain and also went out and found players better than him, as he spread the word far and wide in various tournaments he competed in from the British Amateur to the Bermuda Amateur.

Horne has been a mainstay over the 50 years of the tournament.

“He’s always out there. No matter the weather. It can be raining. It can be really hot. He is always there, supporting every competitor,” 2011 champion and Ole Miss assistant coach Austin Cody said. “He’s the first guy to greet the players when they arrive at the course.”


- Bobby Carrier Photography photo

“The tournament kept snowballing until the point we could be very selective with who we invited. It ended up that one out of three that applied got accepted,” said Horne in 2012.

That exclusivity paid off; from 1978 to 1985 the likes of Scott Hoch, Hal Sutton, Tom Lehman, Brandel Chamblee, and Duffy Waldorf won the Rice Planters. That’s quite a list of names within the first twelve years of a tournament.

Over the 49 previous Rice Planters, the winners combine for over 155 PGA Tour and Korn Ferry victories. And when names like Davis Love III, Stewart Cink, and Brooks Koepka are on your trophy, Rice Planters champions can claim seven professional major trophies, too. Toss in Allen Doyle’s four Champions Tour majors, and it becomes clear that the Rice Planters has identified some stellar golfers.

Tommy Braswell, who first covered the Rice Planters in 1982 called it a springboard event. It’s one that boosts players into a new stratosphere of confidence. Even for players like Allen Doyle, who won the event in 1988 as a 39-year-old and then twice more in 1990 and 1994, the Rice Planters was a proving ground.

“We tell our guys to go and play in the Rice Planters,” Cody said. “It’s one of those events that if you play well, can get you access into all sorts of other events.”

Even with the rich history of the event, Bruce Fleming speaks about the impact the membership at Snee Farm CC has on the event both in the past and present. Golfers are welcomed with open arms during the week of the tournament and made to feel like they are part of something special.

Southern Hospitality is alive and well.


- Bobby Carrier Photography photo

Cody recalls walking up the 18th hole every round and having members, sponsors, and staff give a rousing cheer.

“It didn’t matter if you were in first place or last place. They would come out and watch us on the green and cheer us on. It always made you feel special.”

This year will feel particularly vibrant following two years of COVID protocols. Volunteers were less visible during the 2020 and 2021 Rice Planters, but Fleming plans to have a full staff of members helping in any way they can.

“We have some 70 to 75-year-olds that hand rake the bunkers every morning before the tournament,” Fleming said.

Other members offer up housing to players traveling from out of town, some help with food, and others are on the course as spotters. If there’s a storm? Have no fear, a member will whisk you away in a van to safety.

“The friendliness of the membership makes a difference,” Fleming said. “The fact that there is a member on every other hole in a matching shirt and a hat saying, ‘Hope you’re having a good day. I hope you’re having fun.’ gets noticed by the player's and they’ll mention it to me.”

Fleming hears it from the parents, too.

“They’ll tell me, ‘We’re on tour, we have six events, this is our fifth, this is the only event we’ve enjoyed.’”

For Fleming it’s about the welcoming nature and access the players have to Snee Farm. While some places limit competitors' access to the range or putting green after rounds, Snee Farm makes the course and facilities available to the players the entire week.

“It’s not ‘play golf and leave,’” Fleming said.

The community feeling extends beyond the boundaries of Snee Farm.

In 2009, when Austin Cody battled Brooks Koepka, Cody remembers the size of the crowd. It was the biggest he had ever played in front of.

“It’s kind of a Charleston thing. It’s not just members that come out to watch. People just love their golf down here.”

In 2016, it seemed possible the tournament would not be held. Snee Farm was struggling as they transitioned to a new grass. However, on short notice, RiverTowne CC stepped up and hosted that year. The Rice Planters has never had to cancel an event, even in the face of COVID, which posed a considerable threat, especially in the summer of 2020.

The golf course is one that provides drama down the stretch. Holes 16, 17, and 18 offer opportunities for birdies but punishes bad shots, too. The 16th is a reachable par 5, but 17 is a long par 3 with bunkers protecting the green.

“Eighteen is wide open off the tee. It’s a challenging approach though,” Cody said. “Players can make birdies if they’re chasing, but it can be a tough hole to par when you’re trying to win the tournament.”

Fleming believes the course, no matter the length, will identify the best player in the field.

“Every year I’ll have a handful of kids come up to me and say, ‘Man, that was fun to play this golf course. I am so tired of playing these 7,600 yard behemoths where all I’m doing is hitting Driver and 4-iron.”

Fleming continued, “Our golf course is 6,900 yards, I can stretch it out to 7,000 if I need to. We don’t. Our attitude is that there are going to be 80 guys playing and someone is going to shoot the lowest score. Whether that guy is playing on a 6,800 yard course or a 7,500 yard course, there is still going to be someone that is going to shoot the lowest score.”

In addition to making the experience more appealing, Fleming shortened the event from 72-holes to 54-holes. The WAGR ranking points are the same for either length event, and Fleming wanted to both honor the membership’s dedication to the event while also understanding the amount of golf that amateurs are playing these days.

In the coming 50 years, if players continue to heed Dick Horne’s advice to find two players that are better than them, there will be more professional winners and major champions who lift the trophy at Snee Farm first.


ABOUT THE Rice Planters Amateur

The Rice Planters Amateur was the inspiration of amateur golfer, Dick Horne. During his first Porter Cup at the Niagara Falls Country Club in 1973, Horne befriended the tournament's chairman Dick Harvey. Harvey encouraged a receptive Horne to develop his own southern tournament and, consequently, along with other Porter Cup officials, shared enough useful information to get Horne started in the South. The Rice Planters quickly grew to become one of the top amateur events in the country.

FORMAT AND ENTRY INFORMATION
The Rice Planters is played over 54 holes of stroke play. While entries are by invitation only, the tournament typically holds a 90-player qualifier for the final five spots in the field.

View Complete Tournament Information

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