These players are into the competitive swing of things.
Players of all caliber compete on the Golfweek Amateur Tour, and they’re not just there to hack away on the golf course for four-plus hours — they want to compete.
“We’re out there competing for trophies, prizes, money and other stuff, so it brings the competitiveness out of us when we play,” said Lutz resident Hank Holt, who has been on the amateur tour for 13 years. “It’s more so than just going out and playing —there’s something at stake.
(“It’s) just something to do, something different than going out shooting what you shoot,” he added. “It’s about getting on this tour and meeting guys from all walks of life and becoming friends with them.
“We’re just like the PGA Tour, except we’re not winning as much money (laughs).”
With the Golfweek Amateur Tour, there are various area chapters throughout the country that provide amateurs of all ages, sexes and handicaps the opportunity to compete in stroke-play golf tournaments on a regular basis. Each tournament follows USGA rules and places golfers in one of five flights based on their handicaps.
The Tampa Chapter covers a wide area, from Hernando County, even down to Sarasota County, and of course, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties in between. This chapter is based out of Land O’ Lakes, stationed out of Plantation Palms Golf Club in Land O’ Lakes. It’s also the home course of the chapter’s director, Shane McAdams.
McAdams says there are about 130 players on the Tampa amateur tour this season, with most of them being men. The number of women on the roster fluctuates, with as many as seven one season.
There also is a senior circuit of the tour, however, it is currently on hiatus, as Golfweek and other tournament directors look into revamping that tour’s rules and logistics.
Scoring and integrity are vital to the tour, McAdams said.
“We’re really trying to build up the Land O’ Lakes/Lutz area of this (tour),” McAdams said. “We go by the honor system (when it comes to players’ handicaps), so if you come to your first tourney, and we put you in the flight that is for the score you told us, but that person just dominates that flight, then we’ll disqualify that golfer. We don’t have time for guys trying to be ringers.
“And knockaround guys who think they might be good, but then the competitiveness shows them just how good they are — not that we’re looking to knock anyone down a peg, but it gives the golfers who think they’re good an idea of just how good they are.
“And a lot of them use it to get better.”
The entire tour has about 9,000 members nationwide, and at the end of the season, the top players in the five flights compete in regionals and then, possibly, the National Tournament, which is then held in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
This would include the top flight winner from the Tampa Chapter: Land O’ Lakes resident Zack Holiday.
Throughout the season, members get to play on a variety of courses, such as Brooksville Golf & Country Club or Lake Jovita or Carrollwood Golf Club or even the Ritz Carlton down in Sarasota.
“It takes dedication, but it’s a lot of fun to play all over the area and state and then meet a lot of different golfers, because with that comes the camaraderie,” said Theoren Smith, of Lutz, who is a two-year member of the tour. “We are competitive guys who want to come out and love playing and try to win to go for the money.
“But, all-in-all, it’s fun.”
“I really just wanted to compete again,” said Land O’ Lakes resident Andrew Gastley, who played collegiately at the University of Tampa. “It gets the adrenaline flowing when you’re got a live leaderboard (on your phone) you can look at and you’re coming down the stretch and in contention. Even if you’re not doing well, you can sit back and watch the leaderboard and watch someone you know contend.
“It’s not a lot of (prize) money, but it is some money and it gets you to really take your game seriously.”
The competitiveness is always on display, too, as McAdams said at the Feb. 18 tour event at Brooksville Golf & Country Club, two D Flight members had a hole in one: Zach Williams on hole nine and Matthew Robinson on hole 17.
“Well, the better you are, the further back you go (on the tee box), right?” McAdams said. “So, really good players are tough to come by, but that’s okay, because we’re just out here to have some fun, competitive golf. When a tournament starts, we have 60 (players) or so, and not everyone plays each time, as they have families.
“But we’re close, like a family, and it is a lot of fun for a lot of golfers.”
Golfweek Amateur Golf Tour
Details: Established in 1995, the purpose of the tour is to provide amateurs of all ages, sexes and handicaps the opportunity to compete in stroke-play golf tournaments on a regular basis in their local area. The tour concludes with a National Tour Championship featuring top players in each flight who test their skills against other amateurs from around the country. Through this competition, the Golfweek Tour promotes the sport of golf by providing an atmosphere of friendly, fair, and well-managed competition for amateur golfers in the pursuit of excellence.
Cost: $105 annual membership fee, cost per tournament varies; Golfweek Amateur Tour allows all members to compete in any Golfweek Amateur Tour event across the country.
For more information on the Tampa chapter of the Amateur Golf Tour, visit www.amateurgolftour.net/tampa_tour_pages/default.aspx, call Shane McAdams at 813-789-5988 or Marie McAdams at 813-727-8960, or email .
Published March 15, 2023