It will be the 23rd year the event will be held, and for the first time ever, it will be a points event for the Tennessee Golf Association’s senior player of the year award.
The 54-hole medal play tournament has been part of the Tri-Cities Amateur Tour and a points event for the TGA’s player of the year. Adding the state senior designation should make it even a bigger event.
“We’ll being doing that just exactly how the TGA tells us to do it as far as age groups and that sort of thing,” tournament director Mike Matheson said Tuesday during a news conference announcing this year’s tournament. “I think we’ve had the biggest senior field on this side (of the state).”
While the new senior designation is in the news these days, it was a youngster who took home the top prize last year. Jack Rhea, an East Tennessee State University signee, is the defending champion. He won the title when he was 17.
Rhea used a stellar weekend to 65-67 to win after he thought he shot himself out of contention with an opening 76.
“We don’t trick the golf course up,” Matheson said. “If they play good they’ll come back. If you trick it up, they’re not coming back. We want to see them play good.”
The tournament drew a field of 128 players last year, including 60 in the Championship Flight. More than $12,000 merchandise was paid out.
“There are a lot of great tournaments, but I don’t think any of them pay like we do,” Matheson said.
One of the aspects of the weekend that has made the East Tennessee Amateur the area tournament with the largest field is the match play portion. Golfers are grouped by handicaps and play three days of match play Those flights usually fill pretty quickly.
The championship and senior divisions compete in stroke play.
The entry fee of $150 includes golf all the golf, including a practice round, carts, range balls and lunch each day of the tournament.
Entry forms were mailed out on Tuesday. Call Elizabethton Golf Course at 542-8051 for more information.