Photo Courtesy: Jessica Duff
ROLAND, Ark. (KTHV) - Many of the world's most talented and accomplished amateur golfers - some no doubt destined for the PGA Tour - will descend upon The Alotian Club this summer. The prestigious Western Amateur will debut in Arkansas July 29 through August 4.
Founded in the Chicago area in 1899, the 111th Western Amateur will bring with it the rich traditions of golf, symbolized most dramatically by its who's-who of past champions. Some of those champions include Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange and Alotian Club member Steve Melynk.
The Western Amateur's 156-man field consistently ranks among the top three in the world along with the British Amateur and U.S. Amateur. While the field has not been set at this time, Vince Pellegrino, Vice President of Tournaments for the Western Golf Association (WGA), says applicants will sign up from around the globe.
"We don't have a complete field list at this point. But some of the, we're certainly going to have some of Arkansas Razorbacks playing and some local guys who are going to compete in the championship. But it's truly a global championship. You get players from almost every continent that'll show up to the championship," Pellegrino says.
Last year's field included players from 34 states and 11 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Finland, Germany, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa.
"The quality and depth of the Western Amateur field always is outstanding, and we expect to maintain that level of excellence again this year. Once the players discover the beauty and challenge of The Alotian Club, they're going to be even more excited to be competing in such a prestigious championship," says Pellegrino.
In addition to attracting international players, the 2013 championship will have a strong local flavor with five Arkansas residents already entered in the field. Those players include: former Western Amateur champion Patrick Lee (1995) of Centerton; Austin Cook and Joe Doramus, both members of the Arkansas Razorbacks golf team; Little Rock's Alex Carpenter, a golf team member at Abilene Christian in Texas; and Mark Bartlett, an accomplished Arkansas amateur golfer.
Although the entry deadline is still nearly three months away (June 21), a number of accomplished have already committed to play. Among those players are: University of Washington star Cheng-Tsung Pan of Taiwan and Western Amateur stroke-play medalist in 2009 and 2010; University of North Florida's Sean Dale who recently won the Jones Cup; and LSU's Curtis Thompson whose brother has played on the PGA Tour and sister plays on the LPGA Tour.
For The Alotian Club, hosting the 111th Western Amateur championship will provide a high-profile platform to showcase the course's beauty and challenging design. At the same time, it will highlight the club's support of caddies and the WGA's Evans Scholars Foundation. This foundation, named after 8-time Western Amateur winner Charles "Chick" Evans, grants college scholarships to deserving caddies.
"Caddies are an integral part of the history and tradition of golf. That's why I wanted a caddie program at The Alotian Club," says founder Warren Stephens.
Since 1930 the Chick Evans Scholarship Program has sent 10,000 caddies to college, including two from The Alotian Club who are currently attending Northwestern University. There are currently 830 caddies in college under the scholarship program. Stephens says it costs approximately $11 million per year to send these students to college.
The Western Amateur will feature a combination of stroke play and match play competition. The competition includes two 18-hole stroke play rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday followed by a cut to the players with the 44 scores and ties. Those who make the cut then play 18 holes of stroke play on Thursday and 18 holes on Friday. The low 16 from these two rounds will advance to match play on Saturday. The first two rounds of 18-hole match play on Saturday narrow the field to four semifinalists, who compete in a pair of 18-hole matches on Sunday morning. Winners of the two morning matches then play in the 18-hole championship match Sunday afternoon.
2013 Western Amateur Daily Schedule*
Monday, July 29 - Player registration, practice rounds
Tuesday, July 30 - First round, stroke play
Wednesday, July 31 - Second round, stroke play (cut to low 44 and ties)
Thursday, August 1 - Third round, stroke play
Friday, August 2 - Fourth round, stroke play (cut to low 16)
Saturday, August 3 - First two rounds of match play
Sunday, August 4 - Semifinal and championship rounds of match play
*Schedule subject to change
The Western Amateur wouldn't be possible without the help of volunteers. The Alotian Club hopes to recruit 750 volunteers to assist with the tournament. In order to help fund the scholarship fund, volunteers are asked to pay a $100 fee. This fee covers admittance to the tournament all week, two Alotian golf shirts, an Alotian cap and a meal ticket for each shift worked. Volunteers must commit to working at least three shifts during the week. Volunteers are allowed to attend the tournament at any time they are not working a shift. Those wishing to help who are 18 years old and younger can do so without paying the required volunteer fee.
Those wishing to attend can register starting Monday, April 15 at 9 a.m. (central time). Patrons will receive a badge in the mail as their admission pass for the week. These patron badges are transferrable throughout the week. Only a limited number of patron badges will be made available.