Golfers set to tee off at Breton Bay
40th Southern Maryland Amateur Invitational tourney starts today
Beginning on Friday afternoon nearly 200 amateur golfers of all ages will be looking to hone their skills and enhance their bankrolls modestly when they compete in the 40th edition of the threeday, Southern Maryland Amateur Invitational Golf Tournament at Breton Bay Golf & Country Club in Leonardtown.
Since 1978, the Southern Maryland Amateur Invitational Golf Tournament has been one of the ideal spots for bragging rights among local golfers and, since 1983, the tournament has been divided into three categories — Regular, Senior and Junior. Fittingly, tournament founder Leonard Farris captured the Regular title in 1983 and from 1986 to 1990, his son, Kevin Ferris, was the Junior champion four times in five years.
“My father founded this event with the hopes that it would be the premier event hosted by Breton Bay,” said Kevin Ferris, now the tournament’s primary spokesman. “His dream was to create a tournament that would have an ideal local at Breton Bay and offer the best golfers in Southern Maryland a chance to compete in an affordable, challenging experience.”
Several years after the tournament was expanded to include three divisions, it also became a three-day, 54-hole event. Mike Cox was the Regular tournament champion eight times during a nine-year span from 1985 to 1993 and later Roger Welch, a national junior college champion at the College of Southern Maryland, won the Junior title in 2000 and later won the Regular title in 2004 and 2005.
“We’ve had a number of really good amateur local golfers play in this event,” said Ferris, noting the tournament began with 102 players and now hosts an annual capacity of 180. “It is an Invitational, so players who competed last year get invited first and then it becomes open to new golfers. We added Junior and Senior divisions in 1983 and then expanded the format from 36 holes to 54 holes.”
Mark Cusic won three straight Junior titles (1994-96) and would later capture the Regular crown in 2003 and again in 2011, 2012 and 2015. Welch won the Junior title in 2000 and then won consecutive Regular titles in 2004 and 2005. Joe Gross won three straight Junior titles from 2001-03, but he has yet to win a Regular title, but two-time Junior champion Brent Martin (2004-05) won four straight Regular titles (2007-2010).
Tracy Vallandingham won last year’s Regular title with a 54-hole score of 213, while Joe Fenlon captured his third straight Senior crown with a 220. Fenlon also won the Senior title three straight years back in 2009-11. Ryan Stearns, a rising sophomore at CSM where he played for the men’s basketball team and the golf team as a freshman, won last last year’s Junior title and Dick Stearns was the inaugural Super Senior champ.
Entries closed on Monday. The Regular division of golfers will compete from the Blue tees. Senior golfers (those who have reached age 55 by June 23) and Super Senior golfers (those players who have already turned 65 by June 23) are not permitted to compete for the overall title.
The top three finishers in the Regular, Senior and Super Senior division each get a cash prize, as will the top two finishers in the Junior bracket.
The growth, history and popularity of the Southern Maryland Amateur Invitational Golf Tournament at Breton Bay has also enabled the tournament to procure more than a dozen sponsors from various local area businesses.
“It’s really something that I am proud to be a a part of, especially knowing that my dad started it 40 years ago with the hope that it would grow into something special,” Ferris said. “We’ve been fortunate to have the support of Breton Bay and the sponsors and of course all of the talented local golfers who come out for this event year year.”