By Keysha Drexel
While the Country Club of Birmingham has hosted a multitude of golf tournaments, organizers say the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur golf championship that will be played at the club Oct. 5-10 will give Over the Mountain and Birmingham area golf enthusiasts a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The tournament will include 264 qualifiers from all around the country who will come to Birmingham to play for a chance to go to the Masters, said Richard Anthony, general chairman of the event.
“It’s a very significant event,” Anthony said. “The quality of play will be really high, and with the free admission, we’re giving people access to a great course and great players that will provide them with an opportunity they might never have otherwise.”
The event not only will give golf enthusiasts a chance to watch high quality golf but also will bring a lot of attention–and potentially, money–to the Birmingham metro area, said Stephen Bradley, a spokesman for the tournament.
“I think there will be an economic impact. We’ve got all these players and their families and friends coming from out of town, and they’ll be spreading the word about our community when they go back to New York or California or St. Louis,” Bradley said. “There’s a rough calculation that the tournament will make a $1.5 million impact on the local economy, and that’s a conservative estimate.”
The national media will also be in town to cover the tournament, Bradley said, including crews from the Golf Channel.
As the tournament date nears, Anthony said he’s been busy coordinating the efforts of the more than 400 volunteers who have agreed to help out at the event.
“Almost all of the volunteers are club members,” Anthony said. “The club was sort of hungry and ripe for this opportunity and this experience, so our volunteers are extremely excited and motivated. We definitely didn’t have to beat our membership over the head to get them to volunteer.”
Anthony said his 10-year-old grandson is even caught up in the excitement and asked his grandfather to find a way he could help out at the tournament next month.
“He asked me the other day to give him a job at the tournament. He’s really excited about it, and I think that kind of excitement is infectious and we’re all feeling it right now,” he said.
Part of that excitement is because Anthony said he feels the tournament will be the perfect way to showcase the local golf community and show that Alabama is not only a great football state but a great state for golf as well.
“We have earned a good reputation for being a great golf community. We know there is an interest out there, and we’re confident we can attract people to come out and watch,” he said.
Bradley said several Over the Mountain residents will be competing in the tournament, including Steven Groover of Hoover, Clint Provost and Will Swift of Vestavia Hills and Bo Farlow of Mountain Brook.
Six other players from Alabama have qualified for the tournament, including players from Fairhope, Trussville, Birmingham, Irondale and Montgomery, Bradley said.
After playing practice rounds on Oct. 3-4, the starting field of golfers will play two rounds of stroke play with the low 64 advancing to match play.
The first round of stroke-play qualifying is Oct. 5 and the second round will be Oct. 6.
The first round of match play will be Oct. 7, followed by the third and fourth rounds on Oct. 8.
The quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of match play will be Oct. 9. The 36-hole championship match is slated for Oct. 10.
Nathan Smith of Pittsburgh, Pa., will be defending his title at the tournament. He became the first four-time winner of the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship with his victory over Canada’s Garrett Rank at Conway Golf Farms in Illinois.
Spectator shuttles to and from the golf course will pick and deliver those coming out to watch the tournament. Shuttle stops will be at the Birmingham Zoo and the Junior League parking lots.
For more information, visit www.usga.org.