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Palmetto boasting strong field for 45th amateur

Players wait to tee off on the 16th hole at Palmetto Golf Club.
Players wait to tee off on the 16th hole at Palmetto Golf Club.(Mike Jakucionis)
Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 8:47 PM EDT
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AIKEN, SC. (WRDW/WAGT) - For the 45th time, Palmetto Golf Club will host the Palmetto Amateur beginning on July 8th. It’s one of the many local events that showcase the future stars of tomorrow in the area with likes of Peach Jam and and the Sage Valley Junior Invitational. Month of planning always go into the event, but this year even more planning was needed.

"We're really excited. It took a lot of planning and some late nights making sure we could do it the right way and the safe way. We feel like we've done that and we're really excited to continue the tradition that was set here 45 years ago," said tournament co-chair Brad Crain.

Those late nights were spent debating player numbers, safety procedures, spectators, and so many other issues that have been at the heart of deciding whether or not to have an event. Palmetto had a model with the Rice Planter Amateur held in Mount Pleasant and worked closely with the organizers to develop a working plan.

This year, unless you're a member of the club, there will be no spectators. Parents are not even allowed to attend. Keeping the number of people on-site to as small a number as possible was a priority. Other measures included limiting the number of volunteers and even having players serve as their own caddies this year.

Expected golf course pandemic procedures will also be in place. A pre-event health screening will be in place and players will not have all the luxuries that usually accompany them: like dinner on the course. They'll also only be allowed to show up 45 minutes prior to their tee times.

Players won’t be removing flag sticks and pool noodles have been placed in the bottom of cups. There will be no bunker rakes.The flag sticks may even help the scores this year and provide an extra bumper for Palmetto’s unforgiving greens.

The playing field has also been limited. The opening rounds usually feature over 80, but this year the field has been limited to 72.

The smaller field wasn't because of a lack of interest. There have been fewer amateur tournaments this year and over 200 applications were turned down according to Crain. If anything, that makes this year's talent pool among the best the tournament has ever seen.

“We’ve got a great list of guys that are just dying to get here because there haven’t been as many tournaments this summer. You want to get a decent sized field. But at the same time, we were trying to weigh the risk of everything going on with COVID-19,” said Crain.

Carson Spears (Augusta), Dane Burkhart (Aiken), Jake Carter (Aiken), Alex Hamilton (Aiken), Kemp Hooper (Aiken), Brian Quackenbush (Aiken), and Dan Sheehan (Aiken) round out the local field. 14 players hail from the University of South Carolina, and 7 Georgia Bulldogs are also in the mix. Auburn’s Jovan Rebulak, Ernie Els’s nephew, is also in the field.

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