2003: British Am moves away from NCAAs
Beginning in 2006, the British Amateur Championship will be played at a later date to try to attract top college players from the United States. The championship will be held June 19-24, two weeks later than its current date, to avoid a clash with the NCAA Championships.
The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews announced the date change Jan. 15 along with confirming that Royal St. George’s, this year’s British Open venue, also will host the ’06 Amateur.
The British Amateur has a long and storied history that dates to 1885, when A.F. MacFie won the championship at Hoylake. For years it was seen as the preeminent amateur contest, attracting top players from all over the world. Lately, however, the championship has failed to live up to its world-class billing.
“In the past it was recognized that the Amateur Championship clashed directly with the NCAAs, which takes out not only the top American players, but the top Great Britain & Ireland and any European players in American colleges,” said Rhodri Price, the R&A’s championship assistant.
“It had been mooted in the past that the Amateur Championship would move, but it would disrupt the calendar too much. Previously, it has been awkward to move the championship date because the amateur calendar has been extremely congested. Throw in the overseas amateur championships, and it’s even worse.
“Two years ago, Peter Dawson decided to consult the (the area’s other golf associations) about the possibility of moving the Amateur Championship and the disruption it would create. That’s what we did and (they) came back to us and said they would be happy to fit their tournaments around the Amateur Championship.”
Price said 2006 was the earliest possible date to move the championship because so many tournaments in the intervening years already had been scheduled.
Price also said moving the championship would not only attract a better field, but also improve Great Britain & Ireland’s chances in the Walker Cup.
“It benefits our players to have some of the top Americans play over here,” Price said. “The only time we get to see the top Americans is in the Eisenhower Trophy (World Amateur Team Championship). Then suddenly we have a Walker Cup, and there could be some players who might be intimidated. So getting the top Americans into the Amateur Championship should take care of that factor.”
This will be the 13th time the British Amateur has been played at Sandwich. The championship was last held there in 1997 when Craig Watson won.
Nearby Prince’s Golf Club will jointly play host to the 36-hole stroke qualifying to determine the top 64 players for the match-play stages.