A QUALITY FIELD
DOUG SMITH | CENTRAL TEXAS GOLF Tournament has steadily moved up list of local events
Accomplished list of players head for Forest Creek, Central Texas Amateur
The next stop on the Austin amateur circuit is the Central Texas Amateur, which will be held Saturday and Sunday at Forest Creek.
The tournament is relatively new, having begun in 1998. However, it has grown in prestige every year and now ranks just a notch below the Firecracker Open and the Austin Men’s City Championship in the eyes of most local players.
“After those first two (Firecracker and City), it has to be right near the top,” said Steve Paterson, winner of the 2006 Central Texas Amateur. “… The quality of the field is always good, and it’s one of the toughest courses we play. The course is always in good shape.
“It’s very challenging, but fair, and that’s what everybody wants.”
A look at the past champions indicates the quality of the event: C. J. Goecks (1998), Mark McEntire (1999), David Bolen (2000), Steven Bright (2001), Chuck Gardner (2002), Trey Schroeder (2003), Jonathan Mathias (2004), Billy Clagett (2005), Paterson (2006), Jamie Kellam (2007 and 2008) and Matt Smith (2009). Anybody who follows local golf knows those names and knows that there is not a pretender in the bunch.
The winning scores tell the story of the difficulty of Forest Creek. Goecks’ score of 6-under 138 in the first year remains the tournament record. Gardner’s 4-under 140 in 2002 is second best. A 36-hole score of over par has won the tournament six times.
“The course is the strength of this tournament, and we feel that the tournament has found its place as one of the best in the area,” head pro Chuck Jennings said. “The course is in great shape. The fairways are the best I’ve ever seen, and the greens are rolling great.
“The rough is not real high, but it is really thick,” Jennings said. “I think the rough is going to make it very interesting this year.”
Three former champions are in the field this weekend: Schroeder, Clagett and Paterson. The field also includes two players who have already won on this year’s amateur circuit: Robert Evans at the Amateur at ShadowGlen and Nicholas Cristea at the Horseshoe Bay Invitational. Cristea is the current points leader in the Austin Amateur rankings.