112th Southern Amateur Golf Championship pays a visit to the Club at Olde Stone
It’s been a long time since the Southern Golf Association hosted their annual Southern Amateur Championship in the state of Kentucky. As a matter of fact, they haven’t hosted the major tournament in the Commonwealth since 1947 when it was played in Louisville.
These next couple of days, however, the SGA is hosting one of its three major tournaments at the Club at Olde Stone in Bowling Green for the first time ever.
The Southern Amateur Championship is one of the largest amateur tournaments in the world, featuring 156 golfers from 31 different countries and states. Of that 156, twelve are from the bluegrass state, including Bowling Green native Justin Perry and current Western Kentucky Men’s golfer Billy Tom Sargent.
"Just a privilege to play on my home course," said Perry. "I’ve got a lot of experience on this golf course. I was able to qualify Monday in the local qualifier. It’s a privilege. [I’m] just excited to get out and play in front of family and some other members that I know. So, it’ll be fun."
Sargent isn’t a stranger to the course at Olde Stone, either.
"I know how to play this course pretty well," he said. "There’s some different game plans you can play; be aggressive, play conservative, what holes you can go for, where to miss on the greens and stuff. I think it’s going to help me out this week. Hopefully I’ll play well."
Both players should have a strong contingent of fans cheering them on during the tournament as well.
"As Kentuckians, we’re proud," said Olde Stone’s Director of Golf Kevin Childers. "It’s obviously great to have them out here and competing. We have seven members playing in this event."
The courses that typically host the Southern Am contain challenging greens, tough roughs, and fairways that cause even the best golfers to have a bad day. But the layout of the course isn’t the most difficult part about playing in this tournament. It’s the task of facing a talented field of young golfers.
"It’s an international event," SGA Executive Director Andy Priest said. "We’re one of the top 13 championships in the world."
"I think you’re seeing a trend now where these kids are just getting better and better," Perry added. "And you’ve been seeing that for a while now."
Hosting a tournament of this magnitude takes a lot of planning. So much so that plans to hold the event at Olde Stone started more than three years ago after the club held the Southern Junior Amateur Championship.
"It started back in 2015," Childers said. "We hosted the Southern Junior Amateur which is for all the junior amateurs. Then shortly after that, we got a phone call from the SGA asking us if we’d like to host the 112th playing of the Southern Amateur. We were ecstatic about that. Our membership is excited. We’re happy for not only Olde Stone, but the Bowling Green-Warren County communities to bring this event to southcentral Kentucky."
So far, officials have been very pleased with how the course has looked for the players.
"The golf course is phenomenally good," said Priest. "It’s perfect peaked. [Olde Stone Superintendent] has got it in championship condition. It is ready to go."
First round of play began on Thursday, with the tournament continuing until Saturday afternoon at the Club at Olde Stone golf course.
The tournament is free and open to the public.