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East Tennessee Amateur set for 20th anniversary

June 3rd, 2014 7:04 pm by Joe Avento

East Tennessee Amateur set for 20th anniversary

ELIZABETHTON — As the Carter County Bank East Tennessee Amateur golf tournament was gearing up for its 20th year, one of its early champions reminisced about how much the competition meant to him.

Adam Shanks, the former Science Hill star who played at Austin Peay, now serves as the professional at Elizabethton Golf Course, the home of what has turned into the area’s largest invitational tournament. Shanks won the tournament in 2000, ’01 and ’03.

“I think this was the tournament that I looked forward to the most,” Shanks said Tuesday during a news conference announcing this year’s event. “It was kind of like my U.S. Open, my Augusta. It’s a special tournament and it always will be a special tournament in my heart. The golf course and being local here, to be able to win it, it was just a special time. Having some of the guys who are members here watch, it just made it great.”

This year’s ETA is scheduled for July 4-6, marking the 20th year in a row Elizabethton has played host to the tournament around Independence Day.

“It started out as a little invitational, and based on participation and how many we have every year, I think it’s grown into the biggest tournament in East Tennessee,” tournament director Mike Matheson said. “It’s been full for as long as I can remember.”

Scores at the ETA have been lower then most local tournaments because the par-fives are all reachable in two and several of the greens at Elizabethton have very accessible hole locations, leading to a lot of birdie chances. And they don’t trick it up at all.

Bryan Sangid, the 2004 ETA champ, shot 64 in the first round last year, tying for the second-lowest score ever in the tournament. Shanks shot the first 64, in 2001. Nick York holds the tournament record of 62, shot in 2010.

The 54-hole record is 14 under par, shared by Brad Robinson (2008) and Carlson Cox (2011). Armstrong, who had eight birdies on the front nine — and birdied 11 of the first 14 holes — during last year’s second round, was on his way to smash the 54-hole record until he capped his victory with bogeys on the final three holes to fall a shot short.

“We want them to play well,” Matheson said. “I think when they play well, it’s more exciting. That’s better than seeing people make bogeys and double-bogeys. We want them to play well and I think Adam set up the course great last year.

“Plus, when people play well, they come back.”

The $150 entry fee includes all tournament golf and a practice round, carts, lunch and range balls each day.

“We feel like it’s the best deal out there,” Matheson said. “I think that’s why we’re almost always full. For what you get here, it’s second to none.”

In addition to  the championship division, senior divisions and match-play flights for higher handicaps and those not wanting to compete in the championship division are part of the field.

“We want to treat the 20-handicapper the same as we do the players in the championship flight,” Matheson said.

For more entry information, call the Elizabethton pro shop at 542-8051.

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