When the U.S. Amateur Championship moved its playing dates up one week beginning in 2012, some wondered whether this might have a domino effect on other tournaments normally played around that time.
The answer is, yes – at least in one case.
The Scratch Players Championship, usually held about a week earlier and at a site near the U.S. Amateur, is, well, scratched.
Considered by many as one of the world’s leading amateur tournaments, the SPC will no longer be staged.
“With the U.S. Amateur henceforth moving up one week permanently, this squeezed the SPC out,” said Fred Solomon, founder and head of the Scratch Players Group, which started, runs and operates the Scratch Players Championship. “If held, it would conflict with the Canadian Am, Cardinal Am and European Am annually.
“It would also follow the Porter Cup, then the Western Am, then the SPC right before the U.S. Am,” Solomon said. “I just don’t believe a top amateur is going to play four weeks straight, and the first event to skip among those four would be the SPC. I’m simply not interested in investing the enormous time to run a world-class event and not having a world-class field of players,” Solomon said.
The USGA moved its U.S. Amateur dates up a week so as not to conflict with the start of classes at colleges on the semester system. The 2012 U.S. Am at Cherry Hills in Denver is scheduled Aug. 13-19.
That now leaves only one week between the end of the Western Am and the start of the U.S. Am, thus crowding an already tight amateur schedule.
“I started the Scratch Players Championship from ground zero, and I feel I put it on the map while it also helped put me on the map (among top amateurs),” Solomon said. “It had a good run, but now I think it’s time to move on.”
Solomon and the Scratch Players Group also administer and oversee the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking, which includes results from some 3,000 tournaments worldwide: local, state, regional, national and international.
Solomon said he looked at alternative dates for the SPC, in particular right after the U.S. Amateur, but said none would have the same attraction for the top players.
“The summer amateur schedule is already so congested, and trying to hold the SPC after the U.S. Am just would not work,” he said.
The SPC was first held in 2000. It was not played in 2001, when it was scheduled for early October but canceled because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. Nor was it played in 2008 and 2011 when, as Solomon put it, “we were unable to secure a quality course” near the site of the U.S. Amateur.
He said he would continue to stage the Scratch Players Mid-Am and Senior Am. The 2012 events will take place March 22-25 at Mayacama Golf Club in Santa Rosa, Calif., where they will be held each spring for at least the next five years.
Also, Solomon hopes to launch a biennial intra-state team match-play championship beginning in January 2013. It would consist of eight to 10 teams representing various regions around the country. Each team would have nine players and a playing or non-playing captain.
Solomon is considering three days of competition, which would include best ball, alternate shot and singles, with each match being nine holes.
“It would be a round-robin-type deal, with all the teams playing each other at least once,” he said. “There is no such thing like this out there right now, and because there would be so many mini-matches, I think the players will love the format.”
With hopes of attracting some of the top college players, he said the ideal time would be early January in a warm-weather location such as Southern California, Arizona or Florida.
“Right now, I’m working on all the various particulars, but my main focus is trying to get a title sponsor,” Solomon said. “If I can attract a main sponsor, then the site search can begin and I feel everything else will fall into place. I’ve mentioned the idea to a few top amateurs, and they have responded positively.”