SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. – One of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious tournaments is taking a major step in 2020 to help expand the game to the country’s finest male and female amateurs.
Now in its 105th year, the Southwestern Amateur Golf Tournament is embarking on an innovative and exciting new path this coming June when it will feature a combined men’s, women’s and mixed-team better ball championship that will be contested over four days at the desert Mountain Club in north Scottsdale.
A men’s and women’s individual champion will be crowned after the conclusion of 72 holes, with a mixed-team better ball champion being named after the first 36.
For the past 104 years, the Southwestern Amateur has been a men’s-only event that has attracted some of the nation’s finest amateur players. Past champions include Craig Stadler, Jay Haas, Mark O’Meara, Ryan Palmer, Nick Watney and JT Poston, winner of the 2013 event.
John Ranslem, executive director of the Southwestern Golf Association which conducts the event, said the change in format was made “after careful consideration of changes in the game, and the recognition of the increasing impact that women are having on the game.”
He indicated that after consulting with college coaches, state and regional golf associations and other important leaders in the game that there are very few “high-profile amateur events for women. We believe that our new format will resonate with both men and women players and bring an entirely new dynamic to our tournament.”
For more than 90 years, the Southwestern Amateur was contested at clubs throughout the southwestern United States. In 2020, tournament officials and the management of the Desert Mountain Club signed a five-year agreement for the club to host the event on two of its Jack Nicklaus-designed courses in extreme northeast Scottsdale offering dramatic Sonoran Desert scenery at the foot of the McDowell Mountains.
One of the premier golf clubs in the entire world, Desert Mountain has also been the home to multiple professional tournaments including the Champions Tour Charles Schwab Cup in 2012 and 2014-2016.
The 2020 event – scheduled to be played June 17-20 – will be contested on Desert Mountain’s Cochise and Chiricahua courses which are recognized for their risk/reward par-5s, dramatic rock outcroppings and stunning views to the south of the greater Phoenix area.
Many college coaches have responded positively to the new format. Matt Thurmond, head men’s coach at Arizona State University, said, “The Southwestern Amateur has taken a bold step in creating a unique tournament that will provide some of the country’s top men and women collegiate players, as well as mid-amateurs, with an opportunity to showcase their skills in a one-of-a-kind competition on two spectacular golf courses.
2020 Southwestern Amateur
June 17-20, 2020
Desert Mountain Golf Club
Cochise and Chiricahua Courses
Field Size: 144 (72 men, 72 women)
Max Index: 1.4 men, 3.2 women
Dana Dormann, the head women’s coach at San Jose State University, also endorsed the new Southwestern Amateur format. “Out-of-the-box thinking has not always been a hallmark for amateur golf – especially when it pertains to women players. Over the course of the last few years, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Golf Channel’s coverage of the women’s NCAA championships have markedly increased the exposure of our sport. The Southwestern Amateur’s new format is another great opportunity for us to showcase4 the talents of the many outstanding female amateurs from throughout the country.”
With a field size of 144 players, the Southwestern Amateur will be a highly selective event, with male applicants having a maximum index of 1.4 and a 3.2 index for women.
In addition to playing on two of the most spectacular layouts in all of the country, the Southwestern Amateur offers players a number of opportunities not always available at other events, including complimentary hosted housing at Desert Mountain, free use of golf carts during the 72-hole competition, and an opportunity to “hopefully compete against some of the best men and women amateur players in the world,” Ranslem concluded.
ABOUT THE SOUTHWESTERN AMATEUR
72-hole stroke play championship for national-level male and female amateurs. Players gain entry into the field either by exemption or by invitation from the SWGA Tournament Committee.
Starting in 2020, the tournament will feature men’s and women’s divisions, with a mixed team event held over the first two rounds.
The SWGA reserves the right to invite amateurs of national and international reputation, as well as other amateurs “of note”, to enter into the tournament. Applicants are urged to submit their entries with golf resumes of accomplishment in major tournaments and other competitive track record information.