When and Where: August 19-21, 2017 at Tobacco Road Golf Club in Sanford, N.C.
Who: Nationally ranked senior amateur golfers age 55 and over.
Of Note: This is a Golfweek nationally ranked event (1200 points) and is a certified World Amateur Golf Ranking tournament.
Course Notes: Tobacco Road is tucked into the golf-rich outskirts of Pinehurst, N.C., and is currently No. 6 among North Carolina courses on Golfweek’s Best State-by-State list. It’s a unique challenging track built by the late Mike Strantz on an abandoned sand quarry. Known as “Pine Valley on steroids,” the course demands strategy and shot making, and is the perfect venue for the Golfweek Senior National Match Play.
The Scoop: Golfweek’s fourth Senior National Match Play Championship draws the top 32 players from both the senior and super senior national rankings as well as the top 16 players from the legends division. The field is seeded based on national ranking and over the course of three days, individual matches will whittle down the field until one national champion is left in each division.
Players to Watch: (2017 Senior Rankings) Jim Starnes, of Fort Myers, Fla., and the 2016 Senior Player of the Year, is on a tear to unseat Dr. Doug Hanzel, the current No. 1. With Hanzel absent from the field, it’s a tossup between Starnes and 2016 Match Play Champion, Mike Arnold, of Mooresville, N.C.
The super senior division is loaded with the top international players aged 65-69. Seven of the world’s top ten super seniors will make this a true national championship. Current No. 1 Bob Hess, of Casselberry, Fla., has held the spot for the entire year. With Hess not in the field, the door is open for Gary Kirwan, of McKinnie, Texas, who only trails Hess by 623 points.
The Legends division features 2017 four-time winner George Washburn, of Frederick, Md., facing off against current No. 2 Joe Pavoni of Prospect, Ky. If Pavoni could pull off the upset of the year, he still wouldn’t sniff the No. 1 position. Washburn holds a commanding 3,780-point lead over Pavoni. Both Washburn and Pavoni are two of the longest drivers in the Legends division, but Tobacco Road is all about shot making. If they make it to the championship match, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top on this course made for match play.
Coming Up: Stepping in to fill a USGA void, Golfweek is hosting the first national championship exclusively for players 65 and over: The Golfweek U.S. Super Senior and Legends National Championship. The tournament will be contested October 25-27 at a venue where “dreams still come true,” Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Featuring two divisions, super-senior (age 65-69) and legends (age 70+), the Disney Palm course, home to almost 50 years of PGA Tour golf, will offer the perfect venue to crown the first super-senior and legend champion in the nation.
The first Golfweek Tournament of Champions is set for December 10-12 at the exclusive Black Diamond Ranch in Lecanto, Fla. Division winners from each of the 40-national senior ranking tournaments along with senior champions representing all 50 states will compete for the first Golfweek Tournament of Champions trophy.
Hold the Date: From April 5-7, 2018, Golfweek will once again travel to PGA West in La Quinta, Calif., for the Golfweek Senior Amateur Championship. Two rounds will be contested on the world-famous Stadium Course and one will be played on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. For senior tournament information and registration visit www.golfweekevents.com or contact Ron Gaines at email@example.com.