A few reasons why you should play the Golf Channel Am Tour

By Erik PetersonApril 12, 2010, 7:02 pm
palmetto dunes jones 10
The 10th hole at the Jones course at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort (courtesy Palmetto Dunes)

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – GolfChannel.com spent a recent weekend with the Golf Channel Am Tour at the Palmetto Dunes Major Championships, where 163 amateur golfers in 10 flights navigated their way through the Jones and Hills courses at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort. If you’re not familiar with the Am Tour, here is your introduction. In fact, if you’re not playing the Am Tour, these are a few reasons why you should.

Feel like a pro

For more golf in Hilton Head Island, or to plan your next trip visit:
Whether you’re playing in a PGA Tour event or a charity scramble, the goal of any competitive golfer is painfully simple: Win the tournament. And while most events have one winner and a bunch of losers, the Am Tour has found a way to spread the wealth without diluting the experience of winning. If you don’t believe us, just ask Erwin Watson, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., one of ten flight winners at Palmetto Dunes.

“This is my first-ever win,” the elated 11-handicapper told GolfChannel.com after capturing the Sarazen flight. “I’ve been close, but no cigar. It feels great to finally get a win.”

Each of the ten flight winners at Palmetto Dunes walked away with a Dick’s Sporting Goods gift card, a crystal trophy, and the priceless confidence boost that comes with beating the best players in your skill level.

In addition to the winnings, the stage on which these championships are conducted is equally impressive. The list of this year’s Am Tour Major host sites reads like a PGA Tour schedule, with current PGA Tour venues TPC San Antonio, PGA National, TPC Deere Run, Innisbrook and TPC Scottsdale on the Am Tour roster. Fittingly, this year's National Championships are staged at the famed Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass.

If all that isn’t enough to make you feel like a pro, know that in true PGA Tour fashion, each competitor’s name is announced as he or she is called to the 1st tee. It can be a nervous jolt of reality if you’re not used to playing tournament golf, but it’s the price you pay for playing on the same stage as the pros.

Family and work-friendly events

Click here for more info on the Am Tour

Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort
Where to play:
There are three courses –  Jones, Fazio and Hills. Each is excellent, with a different style and level of difficulty.

Where to stay:
Whether you’re visiting with buddies and need to rent a house, or you just need a quaint hotel room, Palmetto Dunes has every accommodation type imaginable. Click here for more info.

In the area:
Harbour Town Golf Links, host of the PGA Tour Verizon Heritage is less than 15 minutes away. The postage-stamp-size greens are the signature here, as is the par-4 18th hole with the famed lighthouse in the background… Another top course in the area is May River Golf Club at nearby Palmetto Bluff. You have to stay at the high-end hotel for playing privileges, but if you can afford it, it’s one of the finest tracks in the state.

If you’re like most golfers, there are two things powerful enough to make playing the game we love nearly impossible: Family and work. Fortunately, the Am Tour has a decent solution for both.

If you tell your family you’re heading to South Carolina for a golf tournament next month, there’s a good chance you’ll get a roll of the eyes and a reminder that you were just at a golf tournament – even if you weren’t.

To make the family happy, consider bringing them with you. After all, most local and regional Am Tour events are at family-friendly resorts, and Palmetto Dunes on Hilton Head Island – the South Carolina vacation spot – is no exception.

In addition to three great golf courses, Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort has abundant beaches, bike trails, tennis courts, kayaking, fishing and shopping, which ensures your family will have plenty to do while you’re on the golf course.

“Bringing my wife with me is great because golf courses are the one place she doesn’t like to go, and malls are the one place I don’t like to go,” joked Jones flight winner Delbert Roberts, who made the 11-hour drive from Louisville, Ky. with his wife. “Turning these tournaments into three-or-four-day weekends is just easier.”

If it’s business that has you tied up, consider the Am Tour’s national footprint of more than 800 events in 33 states.

Have a Monday seminar in Dallas? What better way to clear your mind before the meeting than to fly in a day early and play an Am Tour event? Your annual membership allows you to play in as many events as you’d like, on any of the 61 local tours.

You never know who you’ll meet
While there is no official record kept for most accomplished golfer on the Am Tour, the nod undoubtedly goes to 71-year-old Don Allen, Rochester, N.Y., a seasoned amateur golfer who, in addition to the Palmetto Dunes Major, played in three Masters and four U.S. Opens. But don’t remind him about all that.

Recalling his experience at Palmetto Dunes, Allen laughed. “On the practice tee people came up to me and said, ‘I heard you played in the Masters!’ I told them, ‘Yeah, I did. Now can you please turn your back when I hit? That was during a different life.’”

Joking aside, Allen really did dominate amateur golf in the 1960s. In that span he won three of his 11 New York State Amateur titles, and was two shots out of a playoff at the 1966 U.S. Amateur at Merion. His performance in elite amateur events earned him a position on two Walker Cup teams.

“In the middle 60s I played at a pretty good level,” Allen recalls, “but when marriage and children came along I was one of those guys that had to work. I thought I could play all right, but I just didn’t want to get into all the other stuff.”

Instead of golf, the entrepreneurial Allen focused on his insurance business, which he still runs today in Rochester. He has a second home in Hilton Head Island, S.C., and learned of the Palmetto Dunes Major in the local paper. It was the first round of golf he’d played in five months.

“I went out there and hit a couple practice balls, and all the sudden I got called to the first tee and I was like, ‘Oh boy, here we go.’”

Allen was placed in the Championship flight, and although he finished 17th out of 20 golfers, none of that mattered to the grizzled vet.

“I was appreciative of the way I was treated by the staff out there, and I made some friends too. It was a really fun tournament all the way around.”

Fuel for your competitive fire
In speaking with flight winners after the Palmetto Dunes Major we found that above all, competition is what they enjoy most about the Am Tour.

“I joined the Am Tour because I wanted tournament experience, plain and simple,” said Championship flight winner Jonathan Bolen, Jacksonville, Fla. The +1.9-handicapper has aspirations to play professionally, and he values the experience he’s gaining by playing the Am Tour.

For others, a sort of competition within the competition is what motivates them.

Sal Minicozzi, Braselton, Ga., attributed his victory in the Senior Hogan flight to the motivation he receives from a group of friends from home that plays the Am Tour with him.

“A friend from my home club gathered a group and said, ‘Let’s play the Am Tour,’” Minicozzi said. “We play competitively at our home club too, but this is different, and it’s good. Out here you don’t have that level of comfort that we do at home.”

David Small, a former linebacker at Purdue University, is using the Am Tour to literally get his life back on track. In 2008, Small experienced life’s ultimate double-bogey when he suffered a massive heart attack during a kidney transplant operation. He says the Am Tour has allowed him to ease back into feeling the same competitive jitters he felt in his college football days.

“You can’t really understand competition until you get out there and actually compete,” Small said. “I played a sudden death playoff last year on the Am Tour, and when I gave one putt the Phil fist pump I sort of surprised myself. I’m usually more reserved than that.”

The Am Tour, it seems, has a unique way of connecting all types of golfers with a common bond: They just want to compete.
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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.

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Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

“Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

“We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010.