Am·a·teur; a person inexperienced or unskilled in a particular activity.
Primarily for economic reasons, most of today’s best golfers are professionals. However, amateurs are able to compete in virtually all PGA Tour events (if they succeed in a qualifying event) and the world’s top amateur players are invited to participate in golf’s “major” tournaments.
In at least three of the majors, the low scoring amateur in each tournament will receive a special commendation and an automatic invitation to return the following year.
Consider this; the world’s best amateur basketball players are not competing to play in the NBA finals and the elite college baseball players will not be able to suit up for the World Series in October. On balance, even the very talented amateurs in sports don’t have the experience or the skill to go toe-to-toe with the professionals.
The game of golf is open to all comers and there is quite a bit of history in the rationale. A hundred years ago, golf’s best players were amateurs. Golf professionals were present and accounted for, but, the “pros” were the hired help. They were more likely to be seen repairing golf clubs in the pro shop then making money on the golf course. The amateurs joined golf clubs and the best amateur players were the games’ best players.
In fact, Bobby Jones, perhaps the greatest player of all-time (in baseball terms, this guy would be Babe Ruth), did not want to turn pro. No other golfer has won all four major tournaments in one year (the grand slam of golf) and I don’t know that even Tiger has been given the honor of a ticker tape parade through the streets of New York. Yet, Bobby remained an amateur his entire life.
This mindset within the culture would change during the middle of the 20th century. Golf greats like Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer paved the way for golf professionals to play the game for a living and also expanded the base of weekend players, those who would play public golf.
Today, most of golf’s great players are professionals, yet, amateurs are still celebrated. In just a few weeks, one amateur player will earn the title of 2014 Nevada County Amateur Champion.
The annual Nevada County Amateur Championship is being played August 9-10 at the Alta Sierra Country Club, where the area’s best amateur players will be teeing it up to determine the best player in Nevada County.
If you would like to participate with the county’s better players, reserve the dates and log onto www.altasierracc.com for more information. Or, if you would like to watch some of these players, reserve the dates and plan to visit Alta Sierra Country Club the second weekend of August. Who knows? You may see one of golf’s next top players.
John Renslow is general manager and director of golf at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.