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Ballwin to host senior amateur golf championship qualifying round

Ballwin Golf Course

The Ballwin Golf Club will be the site of a qualifying tournament for the U.S. Golf Association’s [USGA] 2018 U.S. Senior Amateur Championship.

One of a number of sectional events to be held throughout the nation leading up to the Aug. 25-30 championship at the Eugene Country Club [Oregon], the local qualifier is scheduled Aug. 6.

The USGA recently announced the list of the sectional qualifying sites in a “sneak peek” on its website.

According to Dave Furlong, the local course’s golf professional, Ballwin is only the second nine-hole layout ever selected as a USGA sectional qualifying site. However, the selection ties in with the association’s emphasis on golfers’ playing nine holes, rather than the more time-consuming 18 holes, as a way to boost the game’s popularity.

USGA described its list as “tentative” in that additional qualifying locations may still be added or existing sites and dates revised. However, the 43 named locations, including Ballwin, have been confirmed, the association said, with the local course the only one in the greater St. Louis area.

“We obviously are very pleased about the selection of the Ballwin Golf Club for this USGA event,” Eric Hanson, city administrator, said. “It’s a tribute to the hard work of our parks and recreation department people and the success they have had in their efforts to improve and maintain the course.

“Many golfers have said the Ballwin course is the best golfing bargain in the metropolitan area and now its selection for the qualifier provides some good confirmation of that description.”

Echoing Hanson’s comments, Furlong said, “It’s quite a privilege for us to host this event. The course is in great shape and our hosting it is recognition of the great job our grounds crewmembers have been doing.”

Furlong noted that aside from extra care in marking the course to designate out-of-bounds and hazard areas, he doesn’t anticipate many changes in preparation for the qualifier.

“We have some holes that can be made longer by moving the tee boxes back a little further and that may happen,” he observed.

The U.S. Senior Amateur is open to competitors who have reached their 55th birthday by Aug. 25, 2018, and who have a Handicap Index® of 7.4 or lower.

Formerly known as Fox Creek Golf Club, the Ballwin course was acquired by the city in 1974. Since then, Ballwin has rebuilt all nine bentgrass greens, as well as the practice green. It also has converted the fairways, tees and areas surrounding the greens from Kentucky bluegrass to Meyers zoysia.

Bridges across the creek, which frequently comes into play as it meanders through the course, also were replaced a few years ago. More recently, a new irrigation system was installed to replace an aging one that leaked and didn’t provide the desired coverage.

The golf clubhouse and snack bar were remodeled in 1994 and now includes a venue for weddings, banquets and meetings.

The Ballwin facility also has served as the host course for the Gateway PGA Nine-Hole Junior Championship, the annual men’s and ladies’ Ballwin Days tournaments and other events.

From the current back tees, the course measures 3,433 yards. Furlong said golfers will play nine holes from one color of tee markers and the second nine from an alternate set. He said he expects 30 to 40 golfers to play in the event, with one or two top finishers going to the national tournament.

Applications to play will open the week of April 30 and close at 5 p.m. EDT July 11, according to the USGA. Entry fee is $175.

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