Amateur golf championship set to tee off under new rules

Spread out tee times, new rules for bunker and a ban on removing the flag from the hole are just some of the changes golfers will face with the annual Saskatchewan Amateur Golf Championships gets underway today in Warman.

The Legends Golf Club will host the Saskatchewan men’s and women’s amateur tournaments and, with the former being capped at 100 entrants due to the 10-minute gap between tee times. Another 57 players will compete in the Mid-Amateur event, which is open to players 25-years-old and up.

Tournament Director Steve Ryde said it took a lot of planning to get to this point, but after an uncertain summer, he’s just happy golfers will be teeing off at all.

“Things change,” he said during an interview on Monday. “Golf is a different season this year. We understand, with the COVID-19 pandemic, that we have to adjust and try to make the best event possible.”

The biggest adjustment involves the new rule for bunkers. Because bunker rakes represent high-touch areas, provincial guidelines won’t allow golfers or their caddies to use them. If a bunker becomes marred with footprints or other disturbances, players will have the choice of moving their ball one-club length away to a less disturbed area.

A ban on removing the flag pin is also in place, and the course will have a ball retrieval mechanism in place so golfers don’t have to reach into the hole to pick up their golf balls.

Golf Saskatchewan officials got a chance to test some of the new measures during the junior provincial tournaments, which were held at the Elmwood Golf Club in Swift Current last week. Ryde said that gave them some valuable experience, which should translate into a smooth tournament in Warman.

Despite the late start to the season, Ryde still expects a strong, if unpredictable, level of play for the rest of the week.

“It’s fair game for everybody right now,” he said. “Tournament Golf is a different animal. One day you can shoot a really good score, and the next can be the total opposite.”

The 2020 field includes Prince Albert’s Danny Klughart, the reigning Saskatchewan Amateur and Mid-Amateur champion. Klughart took last year’s title following a head-to-head playoff victory over good friend Jehremy Ryde of Eston.

Klughart is one of nine Prince Albert golfers competing on the men’s side. Shell Lake’s Brooklin Fry, who won the women’s junior provincial tournament in Swift Current, is the only golfer from the Prince Albert area on the women’s side.

The 2020 Saskatchewan Amateur Mid-Amateur Men’s Golf Championship runs from July 21-24 at the Legends Golf Club in Warman. The Women’s Amateur Golf Championship runs from July 21-23.

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