The 54-hole tournament begins Friday at Elizabethton Golf Course and it’s the one tournament on the local golf landscape where the scores are routinely low.
“We’re proud of what we do here,” longtime tournament director Mike Matheson said. “I’ve said it for years, the players make this tournament. They just keep coming back. We set it up for them to score. We don’t trick the golf course up. We want them to play well here, so I think that’s what’s helped us make it 25 years.
“When they play well, they come back.”
Lots of players have played well at Elizabethton, which at just a hair over 6,400 yards is short by modern standards. Its multi-tiered greens can pose a challenge if a golfer puts his approach shot in the wrong spot, but scores are out there to be had. All four of the course’s par-five holes are reachable in two shots for the long hitters. Many reach them with irons.
Last year, 10 players were under par heading into the final round. Tyler Lane shot 13 under par last year to win going away.
The tournament is a points event for the Tennessee Golf Association player of the year and senior of the year award. It’s also part of the Tri-Cities Amateur Tour.
Defending senior champion Mike Wood and Cary Daniels made back-to-back holes-in-one on the 10th hole during Thursday’s practice round.
Former East Tennessee State golfer Cayman Ratliff holds the tournament scoring record of 16 under par. He had a 54-hole total of 200 while winning in 2014 and successfully defended his championship in 2015 at the only rain-shortened tournament ever at the ETA.
Former Tusculum golfer Nick York’s 62 in 2010 stands as the best round in tournament history.
Eight former champions — Lane, Ratliff, York, Bryan Sangid, Blake Howard, Ben Treadway, Lucas Armstrong and Carlson Cox — are in the field.