Martis Camp Club
TRUCKEE, California -- Georgia’s Rusty Strawn will be back to defend his Senior Amateur title starting on Saturday. Strawn may have won last year at the Kittansett Club in Marion, Mass., but will be facing a totally different course challenge with players battling the par 72 Martis Camp layout which plays from 7,400 yards at an altitude of 6,000 feet.
While last year Strawn won a tight match play battle over fellow Georgian Doug Hanzel at a stately New England design, this year he will face a spectacular mountainside Tom Fazio design good enough to host both the USGA Junior and Senior Amateur in the last decade.
It’s a historic pairing for Martis Camp, where Scottie Scheffler first announced his arrival to the amateur world with a Junior Amateur win in 2013, and now the course will get the national amateur spotlight with the best senior amateurs in the country.
“I felt like I had my game in the right condition and the right course set up,” Strawn said after his victory last year.
While his game may still be sharp, as evidenced by three top-five amateur finishes this year, including a 4th in the R&A British Senior Amateur this summer in England, the conditions and scenery will be much different this week.
While Martis Camp Golf Club, located in the midst of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, not far from Lake Tahoe, may not the best, or the most dramatic event ever, that’s still to be determined, with an overload of eye candy scenery, it may already have the most scenic title locked up.
Combine marvelous mountain views with Tom Fazio design artistry, all set in front of a 50,000-square-foot clubhouse named best in the country when it opened in 2013, and you have the recipe for a special week of 55-and-over competition.
Apparently, the rest of the senior amateur world agrees with near-record entries in this week’s competition, which include two days of stroke play on Saturday and Sunday and four days of match play to determine a champion on August 31.
“This year’s U.S. Senior Amateur received 2,752 entries, the second most in championship history behind 2022 with 2,865, which shows the strength of senior amateur golf in this country, and throughout the world. With a field that boasts legends of the amateur game, including nine former champions and two former U.S. Amateur champions, the championship will test all aspects of these players’ games over two rounds of stroke play and six rounds of match play,” said Mark Hill, managing director, USGA championships.
“Great clubs give back, and great clubs host great events,” said Gus Jones, the former head golf professional, now COO of Martis Creek. “The clubs we consider in our peer group host USGA Championships, and we want to do the same here.
“I think anybody can learn from the way the seniors manage their game and play to their strengths.”
One player in this year’s field who may have an advantage is Martis Camp member Mark Sear, one of four local members who attempted and made it through qualifying for the national championship.
“While Martis Camp is a spectacularly beautiful golf course, it challenges the golfer with very subtle breaks and slopes on the greens and fairways. Course knowledge is paramount and thus my home court advantage is significant, especially under USGA conditions,” Sear said.
They will also see the course which was pounded by an all-time record snow fall of 540 inches this winter and spring which delayed the opening until June.
“We’re about a month behind where we want to because of the snow, it was almost just too much, but the USGA saw what we did with the Junior Amateur (in 2013) when Scottie won here and they know we don’t need to do much,” said Superintendent and course manager Scott Bower, who was here before Fazio parted the massive tee growth to layout the first hole in 2006. “The seniors will find out what the juniors did. This is a great place for match play,”
A case is point is the par 4 No. 13. The hole plays 461 yards from the championship tees which will be used most of the time. But it can, and might be, moved up nearly 100 yards to induce the golfers to drive over a large boulder-strewn ravine to make the green for an eagle try or court disaster with a short shot.
Former US Amateur 1981 champion Rickie Barnes is also a Martis Camp member, but is neither a senior or an amateur now, but still may be on hand to watch the action.
“I think the last five holes are some of the most dramatic on the e-course,” added Brian Hull, who serves as the broker/president for the Martis Camp reality.
“You have a drivable par 4 a long par 5 that can be reached in two, a short par 3 which slopes off on all sides, and a great closing par 4 with huge bunkers which ends at the base of the clubhouse.”
“I think it speaks to the quality of a Fazio design. He does a lot of really good members courses, then with a few tweaks, you can host a national championship,” Jones added. “We couldn’t do a US Amateur or a US Open because we don’t have room for all the other things, but this is right in our wheelhouse.”
Pete McDade, a 76-year-old from Apollo Beach, Fla., qualified after shooting a round of 2-under 68 to finish second at this qualifier.
Related: U.S. SENIOR AM: 76-YEAR-OLD PETE MCDADE QUALIFIES, SHOOTING EIGHT LESS THAN HIS AGE
SCHEDULE OF PLAY
Saturday, Aug. 26 (Stroke Play, Round 1, 18 holes)
Sunday, Aug. 27 (Stroke Play, Round 1, 18 holes)
Monday, Aug. 28 (Round of 64, match play)
Tuesday, Aug. 29 (Round of 32/Round of 16, match play)
Wednesday, Aug. 30 (Quarterfinals/Semifinals, match play)
Thursday, Aug. 31 (Championship Match, 18 holes)
WHAT CHAMPION RECEIVES
-A gold medal
-Custody of the Frederick L. Dold Trophy for one year
-Exemption from local qualifying for the 2024 U.S. Open Championship
-Exemption from qualifying for the 2024 U.S. Senior Open Championship (must be an amateur)
-Exemption from qualifying for the 2024 and 2025 U.S. Amateur Championships
-Exemption from qualifying for the 2023 and 2024 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championships
-Exemption from qualifying for the next 10 U.S. Senior Amateur Championships
Rusty Strawn became the fourth different Georgian to claim the U.S. Senior Amateur title with a 3-and-2 victory over fellow Georgian and 2013 champion Doug Hanzel at The Kittansett Club in Marion, Mass.
The 59-year-old joined fellow Georgia Southern alums Buddy Alexander, Jodie Mudd and Gene Sauers as a USGA champion. His triumph came just after current Georgia Southern golfer Ben Carr lost in the U.S. Amateur final at The Ridgewood C.C. in Paramus, N.J.