As 2023 comes to a close I wanted to take a minute and share my results from the Amateur events I was fortunate enough to be able to compete in this year.
I am a former college golfer at East Carolina University and whenever my time off from my health insurance job allows, I still love to tee it up in competition. In some ways, I am not nearly as good as I was in school but in other ways, the joy of competing now helps me to play better.
Below I have listed each event I played in this year. Let’s all reflect on the year we have had and move into 2024 focused and ready to become the best version of ourselves on and off the course.
April – Trescott Championship
The first event of the year for me always falls around April as there are not many great amateur tournaments to play in before that. This event is a great one with the South Carolina Golf Association to ease back into competition after the winter months and this year it was held at Rock Hill Country Club in Rock Hill, SC.
The Trescott Championship consisted of eighteen clubs against each other in a total score format. Our team didn’t play our best but I fired a round of 75 as you can see below which was accompanied by rounds of 75 and 76 by my two fellow Spur at Northwoods members.
Our team finished in a tie for fourth place despite not having our best stuff which placed us eight shots off of Lexington Country Club’s winning score of two over par.
Leading up to this event, my performance had been impressive, marked by rounds of 69 and 67 at my home club. Unfortunately, the anxiety stemming from a prolonged break from competition took its toll on me. My putting, in particular, faltered, with regrettable three-putts on holes 9 and 10, followed by a frustrating four-putt on the 11th.
May – Carolinian Amateur Championship
Next month I took a trip up to North Carolina to play what has become a staple in the Carolinas Golf Association scheudle, the Carolinian Amateur, held annually at Keith Hills Country, home of the Campbell University Golf team.
This is always a fun 54-hole event that features some of the best players in North and South Carolina.
Similar to the Trescott Championship, I was playing well heading into this event as my handicap was at what turned out to be a year-low of +4.7. I knew that if I played well I would have a chance to win.
Unfortunately, a really bad draw in my tee time forced me to play in rain and wind during the first round which led me to a poor 76 to start my tournament.
Guided by my dad as my caddy, I staged a comeback with a 68 in the second round. Unfortunately, a lackluster conclusion to my third round resulted in a 74, leaving me with a commendable yet disappointing 14th-place tie. I finished 10 shots behind the victor, Ethan Boyett, a future player for the University of Wilmington golf team.
My second round of 68 might have been the best I played all year as the opportunity to shoot a really low round was present but I just couldn’t convert on several key opportunities.
Despite not getting the results I wanted, this week showed me that my game was going to be good enough in 2023 to have the chance to win some tournaments.
June – Lakeside Country Club Club Championship
For most of the year I joined a course in the upstate of South Carolina called Lakeside Country Club. This place is a rural Carolina gem and has a lot of members with a ton of game.
The club championship at any course is always fun as competition is high and the superintendent typically gets the course playing the hardest that it will all year.
This year, the superintendent was out for blood as he had the small and sloping greens running a 12 on the stimpmeter which has some of them almost unplayable.
The event was rain-shortened to eighteen holes and a poor 77 on the hard and fast greens brought me a fourth-place finish, six shots of the lead of repeat club champion, Mattie Wiggins.
June – Coastal Players Tour at Cheraw State Park Golf Club
The Coastal Players Tour is a pro tour with a very juicy amateur division with great prizes. They are held on Saturdays so I can compete in them without taking time off from work.
The Amateur division also plays from a short set of tees so if I have a good round there are a lot of possible birdies.
My first lap around Cheraw State Park Golf Club was a fun one but unfortunately, I came up a little short of winning as I fired a one-under-par round of 71 to finish fourth. Five strokes off the winning number of 66.
July – Goose Creek City Amateur
Anytime I see a weekend tournament pop up on the calendar, I can’t help but sign up.
This event was no exception to the rule and was truly a random one to put on the calendar. However, I am very glad that I did as it led to my first victory of the year and some very stellar play in the first round.
The inaugural Goose Creek City Amateur was held at Crowfield Golf Club in Goose Creek, SC a few miles outside of Charleston.
My buddy Austin from Nashville came down to hang out with me and compete as well. Even though we didn’t play his best, his return to competitive golf since his college days saw him birdie his first two-three holes in his second round; a feat that had me fist pumping in the car as I saw his scorecard update on my way to the course.
For me, I knew I was playing good golf as I shot a 66 with a triple in my first trip around Crowfield in the practice round on Friday leaving me feeling good about what was to come. Saturday, the momentum continued into round 1 as I shot a bogey-free 67 highlighted by back-to-back 30-foot putts on holes 12 and 13.
The final round consisted of me being in the lead by myself by 4-6 shots most of the day but came closer than I wanted after an out-of-bounds tee shot on 17 left me with a 20-foot putt for double which I somehow managed to make.
Playing better in the final round would have been preferred but a 73 with two double bogies is nothing to complain about and led me to a three-shot win at four under par.
July – Columbia Chevy Dealers City Tournament
If there is a major championship for me each year, it comes at the Columbia City Tournament.
In my first year in town, I was fortunate enough to win this championship, and coming back into year two I was determined to defend my title at Spring Valley Country Club, a George Cobb gem.
In my two practice rounds at Spring Valley, I wasn’t convinced that this was going to be a great course for me as the front nine called for several fades off the tee while my primary shot shape is a draw.
Rounds of 74 and 75 leading up to the championship in practice led to believe I was either not going to have a great week or that I was due for something good to happen.
My first ten holes of the championship were concerning as I walked off of number 10 four over par for the tournament. My hope of defending my title from the previous year seemed to be going out the door.
However, a 25-foot birdie putt on eleven and an eagle on the short par 5 twelfth brought me back to a one over par 73 which steadied the ship heading into the final two days.
In rounds two and three, I finally learned how to play Spring Valley as I shot rounds of 65 and 69 to comfortably win by five shots at nine under par. This compilation of some of my best golf this summer was highlighted by a sixty-foot birdie putt on the par three sixteenth in the final round which found its way onto the evening news.
Coming into an event as the defending champion is always a fun place to be, and it was nice to get the repeat win. Let’s go do it again in 2024!
August – Coastal Players Tour at Forest Oaks
My next competitive test of the year came at the one-day Coastal Players Tour event at Forest Oaks Country Club in Greensboro, NC. If the name of this course sounds familiar to you it is because it is the former site of what now is the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship.
Heading into this event, expectations were high after playing well in the City Tournament but fairway bunker issues on hole one followed by back-to-back bogies on two and three left me scratching my head in disbelief as I headed to the fourth tee four over par.
The player I recognized emerged after my rough start. Despite my struggles, I managed to recover and get back to even par through ten holes. Unfortunately, a bogey on twelve impeded my progress.
In the small amateur division field, I managed to pull out the win at one over par which was pretty sweet after the start that I had.
Three wins in a row gave me a lot of momentum as I headed into US Mid-Amateur qualifying.
August – United States Mid Amateur Qualifying
I traveled back up to North Carolina to give my shot at qualifying for this year’s US Mid Amateur Championship which was to be held at Sleepy Hollow Country Club in New York.
During my junior and college golf days, I was fortunate enough to compete in two US Amateurs and I knew that getting into a USGA event would be a big piece of completing my whole summer.
I teed off on a July morning fully aware that only three qualifying spots were up for grabs among the 73 players.
Completing my eighteenth hole with a frustrating three-putt, I found myself at one under par, tied for third, with an hour remaining for other players to finish. All I could hope for was a playoff, and the ensuing hour was nerve-wracking as successive groups finished with higher scores.
As the final scores were tallied, I discovered I was part of a 3-for-1 playoff to secure my spot. The next 15 minutes were a whirlwind of emotion, as not only was I competing for a coveted spot in a national championship, but also for my singular opportunity to play at Sleepy Hollow.
Watching my competitors confidently drive their balls down the fairway, my nerves got the better of me, resulting in a blocked drive against the face of the left fairway bunker. Both of them missed the green, one short and the other long, while I, with an eight iron from the sand, hooked the ball about 40 yards to the right – not an ideal situation.
Sitting on a downslope, 40 yards away, I knew I still had a chance, but it demanded perfect contact. As the first to play, I summoned the courage for a miraculous shot that took one hop and stopped five feet from the short-sided hole.
After watching both of my fellow competitors fail to get up and down, I nervously sank the five-footer to secure my place at Sleepy.
August – Upstate Amateur Championship
Next up, before the big dance in New York, I had business to take care of in Spartanburg, SC at the Upstate Amateur Championship.
The Carolina Country Club is a beautiful track and plays co-host to the Korn Ferry Tour’s BMW Championship every season. I was excited to see what my game could do on such a good test.
Early on I knew my game was one for the weekend as I birdied two of my first three holes to get myself under par early. After falling into a bit of a stagnant period in my round, I managed to bury a 30-foot eagle putt from the fringe on eighteen to get me into a great position heading into the final round.
My first round was good enough to get me into the final group with first-round leader Nick Mayfield who started the day at five under par with a 67.
Early on, as you can see, I quickly erased that two-shot deficit with a lightning start of five under on my first four holes. Nick never managed to make up the ground on me as he struggled to a Sunday 74 but former Louisville player and fellow mid-amateur, JD Lehman, took advantage of my even par play for the rest round keeping pace.
Coming to the eighteenth tied with JD, I found myself with a thirty-foot eagle to win outright that painstakingly sat on the lip without falling in. This gave JD hope as he calmly bushed in a breaking ten-foot birdie putt to send us to a playoff.
After routine pars on hole one, our first playoff hole, we headed over to the ninth tee as some ominous storm clouds started to roll in. Both of us hit solid tee shots but JD pulled his short iron left into the water leaving me the option to play safe and hit my 54-degree wedge to the safe side of the pin.
Two short putts later for par and I found myself with my fourth and arguably biggest win of the year in the 150-person field.
September – United States Mid Amateur Championship
After competing in this national championship at Famed Sleepy Hollow Country Club I took the time to write an entire article on my experience in New York, I encourage you to check that out.
To give you some highlights, the entire experience of playing in a USGA Championship is unforgettable, especially at Sleepy Hollow overlooking the Hudson River.
I hit it the best that I did all summer this week but because of a very unusually bad putter, I fell a shot short of making match play after the two-stroke play qualifying rounds.
I didn’t want the result I wanted this week but an awesome experience and a big piece of completing a great summer.
September – Coastal Players Tour at Legacy Golf Links
In my last event of the year, I decided to tee it up one more time at a Coastal Players Tour event.
I don’t know what it is about these tournaments but getting off to a good start is not something I am good at. This might be the worst start that I have gotten off to in a tournament since junior golf.
Seven over through seven isn’t exactly what you are looking for and could be related to a slight hangover from a disappointing result in New York.
After that, however, I played very well, going four under bogey-free on my last eleven holes. This satisfying comeback brought me to a 75 and somehow a second-place finish.
For the year I finished with a scoring average of 71.56 making five eagles and sixty-two birdies next to forty-eight bogies and nine doubles.
Four wins and a start at a USGA event made for a great summer for a guy who helps people with health insurance and writes for a living.
Golf is a game that gets us all away from the everyday grind of responsibilities and is something that is ever-satisfying and continuously maddening. I love competing and will continue to do so as much as I can.
I can only hope that my future summer results are as good as this year was for me.
Cheers to a great 2024, and a happy new year to 2024!