The beginning of the local competitive golf schedule is more than a month away, but when it begins, it’ll be a whirlwind.
The Tri-Cities Amateur Tour will be in its fourth year this summer, and chasing the title means playing a lot of golf. The series consists of 10 tournaments, including one stretch of a competition every week for six weeks.
“We think we have a good schedule,” said Cody Weems, the Tri-Cities director of the Tennessee Golf Foundation. “They’re all great invitationals, all great events. All the clubs do a great job of hosting their invitationals. No matter which one, you’re gonna play a good tournament.”
Carlson Cox, a University of Memphis golfer from Church Hill, has been the Tri-Cities player of the year all three years the award has been given, thanks to accumulating the most points throughout the tour. Kingsport’s Tony Green is the defending senior champion after breaking Mike Freels’ grip on th award.
“I think each year, more and more people are understanding what the Amateur Tour is and how the points system works,” Weems said. “A lot of the great players are striving to get those points. People are aware where they stand on the points list and keep up with it week to week.”
One of the early highlights of the tour is the Tillinghast Invitational, set for June 1-2. The folks at Johnson City Country Club are celebrating the club’s 100th anniversary, and the ninth annual Tillie promises to be a special one. The club has some surprises in the works for the tournament.
The 19th annual East Tennessee Amateur will be held July 5-7 at Elizabethton Golf Course. The ETA, as it has become to be known, boasts the largest fields of any of the local tournaments.
Graysburg Hills will once again combine the Graysburg Amateur and Senior into the same tournament, scheduled for its traditional Father’s Day/U.S. Open weekend of June 15-16.
The Link Hills Invitational in Greeneville has moved from the second week in June to June 29-30.
The Tri-Cities Amateur Championship, considered the season’s major, is scheduled for July 14-15 at the Country Club of Bristol. It’s the only tournament on the tour not run by a course. Weems runs the event, which returns to CCB for a second year after being played at Blackthorn Club.
The third week of July brings a scheduling conflict. The Ridgefields Invitational, the region’s oldest tournament, will be played in Kingsport from July 19-21. Meanwhile, the Lonesone Pine Invitational is scheduled for July 20-21 in Big Stone Gap, Va.
The courses on the tour set their own tournament schedules, and they usually cooperate with each other to avoid any conflicts. Neither would budge in this instance.
“Definitely not ideal, but neither of them wanted to move,” Weems said. “I didn’t want to leave one of them on and one of them off. We’ll just let the players choose which one they want to play, but I hate that they’re on the same weekend.”
Another event might be added at Woodlake Golf Club in Tazewell. That course recently hired a new director of golf, and Weems said they might be interested in joining the tour.
It all starts May 25-26 at the Nolichucky View Invitational at the Greeneville course partly owned by NHRA drag-racing star Allen Johnson.
“We’re just about ready to go,” Weems said. “We’re looking forward to a good year.”
Tri-Cities Amateur Tour
Tournament Place Date
Nolichucky View Invitational Greeneville May 25-26
Tillinghast Invitational Johnson City CC June 1-2
Graysburg Amateur Chuckey June 15-16
Crossings Invitational Jonesborough June 22-23
Link Hills Invitational Greeneville June 29-30
East Tennessee Amateur Elizabethton July 5-7
Tri-Cities Championship CC of Bristol July 13-14
Ridgefields Invitational Kingsport July 19-21
Lonesome Pine Invitational Big Stone Gap, Va. July 20-21
*-Woodlake Invitational Tazewell, Tenn. TBA
*-Tentatively scheduled for August