MASTERS WEEK ALWAYS serves as an inspirational point in the early stages of the golf season — all that well maintained green grass and those blooming azaleas serving to stimulate the senses.
While a coveted green jacket will not go to an area golfer again this year, there are other pathways to golfing glory for North Olympic Peninsula residents, including an area qualifier for the 65th U.S. Senior Amateur Championship.
Sunland Golf & Country Club in Sequim will host that U.S. Senior Amateur area qualifier on Monday, Aug. 5.
Any amateur who has turned 55 as of Aug. 24 and whose USGA Handicap Index does not exceed 7.4 is eligible to enter.
The entry fee is $175 and registration opens May 1 at champs.usga.org and closes at 2 p.m. July 10.
Those hoping to get more acquainted with Sunland can play the course during public tee times Fridays through Sundays. Reservations are accepted seven days in advance at 360-683-6800, ext. 13.
The tournament itself will be held Aug. 24-29 at Old Chatham Golf Club in Durham, N.C.
Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton’s Olympic Course will hold a U.S. Open qualifier on May 7. All professionals and amateurs with a USGA Handicap Index of 1.4 or lower are eligible to enter.
Sudden Valley Golf Club in Bellingham will qualify players for the U.S. Senior Open on May 14. All professionals and amateurs with a USGA Handicap Index that does not exceed 3.4 and have turned 50 years of age by June 27 are eligible to enter.
The closest women’s qualifier, for the U.S. Women’s Open, is in Woodburn, Ore., on April 25.
No U.S. Senior Women’s Open, or Senior Women’s Amateur qualifiers will be held in Washington this year.
SkyRidge Golf Course will host its Spring Opener, a two-person scramble event, Saturday, April 20.
Teams will tee it up from the green tees in a 9:30 a.m. shotgun start.
There will be gross and net divisions and teams can use up to 30 percent of their combined handicap with a maximum 10-stroke differential between playing partners.
The cost is $80 per team and includes range balls, KPs and lunch.
An optional honey pot is an additional $10 per player.
Cart seats are $12.
For more information or to register, call SkyRidge at 360-683-3673.
Cedars Best Ball
Cedars at Dungeness will hold its 37th annual Best Ball Tournament this weekend.
The 36-hole four-ball stroke play event is Saturday and Sunday.
A Friday practice round (after 9:30 a.m.) also is included in the event’s fee of $370 per team.
The cost includes three rounds of golf, range balls, a tee prize, dinner Saturday and lunch Sunday.
A maximum handicap of 34 is allowed and 90 percent of handicaps will be used for the competition.
An optional horserace is $40 and open to the first 30 paid teams and will be held at 5 p.m. Friday.
Assigned tee times run from 8 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. and noon to 1:45 p.m. on both competition days.
To register, or for more information, phone 360-683-6344.
Cedars at Dungeness has three demo days slated for the next few weeks, including a Ping demo day Wednesday, April 17.
Demo days run from noon to 4 p.m.
A TaylorMade demo day is planned April 24 and Titleist, Ping, Mizuno and TaylorMade equipment will be on site on May 22.
A short-game clinic with Cleveland Golf is planned for the May 22 date.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment, phone 360-683-6344.
Ludlow demo days
Golfers can schedule appointments to be fit by a Ping Golf expert at Port Ludlow Golf Course from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday May, 9 or June 27.
To register, call 360-437-0272.
Why’s the field so small?
Canadian Corey Conners claimed the 87th and final invite to the 2019 Masters field when he won the Texas Open on Sunday. This year’s field ties 2018s as the smallest in the last 22 years.
It made me curious as to why Augusta National allows for a little more than half of the 156-player fields at the other majors, like the U.S. Open.
Here’s who gets those coveted invitations to play in the Masters:
Past champions receive a lifetime invitation, although 13 former champs are listed as non-playing this year including Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson.
Tiger Woods heads up the list of 20 past champions that will tee it up at Augusta. Fred Couples also gets in this way.
Winners of the three other majors from the past five years earn entry, so this gets Rory McIlroy (British Open); Dustin Johnson (U.S. Open) and Jason Day (PGA Championship) their spots.
Winners of the Players Championship from the last three years also are invited, along with the top 12 and ties from the 2018 Masters and the top four and ties from 2018’s other three majors.
PGA Tour winners from the last 12 months like Conners, and any FedEx Cup Tour Championship qualifiers get in and those who were in the top 50 of the official world golf rankings either at the end of 2018 or the week before the Masters also receive invites.
Six amateur players earn their way to Augusta and on occasion, a player on a strong run of form receives a special exemption — typically an international player with a strong following abroad.
So a smaller field overall, but quite possibly a deeper pool of talented players competing in golf’s greatest cathedral at Augusta National.
And all for golf fans to enjoy.
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]