There is a huge difference between golf and "tournament" golf. Sure playing with your buddies for a few dollars or dinner or drinks after your round can get the nerves twitching, but nothing really compares to having to play exactly by the rules, counting every stroke. There are no "gimmes" or "just put me down for a double" pickups in tournament golf.
If you are 50-years-old or will be soon and want to experience the thrill that comes with competitive tournament golf, you should look into the Senior Amateur Golf Tour. This tour is open to men and women of all skill levels who will turn 50-years of age or older during this calendar year. In Florida, there are three tours in our area, West Palm Beach, Orlando, and North Central. Our state even has a fourth tour in the Tampa-Sarasota area.
Each tour has its own schedule of events. The current West Palm schedule started in March, and has six events left out of its 15-event 2013 schedule. The Orlando Tour also started in March. The 16-event schedule has five tournaments remaining between now and October.
Members get to play some of the most exclusive and desired tracks in their area. This year's Orlando schedule included tournaments at Southern Dunes, Falcon's Fire, Disney's Osprey Creek and Magnolia, The Quarry Course at Black Diamond, the New Course at Grand Cypress, Orange County National, and LPGA International.
West Palm Beach's schedule featured tournaments at Binks Forest, Glenn Eagles, Hobe Sound, Broken Sound, The Falls, Eastpointe, and the Breakers Rees Jones Course to name a few.
The best part of this tour is that when you join you can play in events on any of the 15 tours. All you do is pay your entrance fee and off you go. So if you happen to be visiting Pinehurst and they have a tournament while you are there, you can tee it up with new competition.
Membership is $85 and the tournament entry fees range from $65 to over $100 depending on where you are playing, with most falling around $85. Most members are even allowed to play a practice round for what usually amounts to a cart fee. The membership fee includes Tour merchandise and allows you to play in all local events as well as any SAGT event in the United States throughout the year.
If you aren't sure if the Senior Amateur Golf Tour is something you would like to join and play in, they will allow you to play once as a guest. All you have to do is pay the entry fee for that event. You will not be eligible for prizes or points towards the year-end awards, but you will get your feet wet and know if it's something you would enjoy doing more than just once.
Senior Amateur Golf Tour events are 18 hole stroke play tournaments using only gross score and conforming to USGA Rules. Golfers are placed in flights according to their handicap and remain in that flight until their handicap warrants a move. Points are awarded to golfers in every event. All points and standings are kept current on the website, allowing you to see exactly where you stand.
There are four flights, broken down into Championship (0-3.9 handicap index); A Flight (4-8.9); B Flight (9-13.9); and C Flight (14 and above). You will play against golfers of similar skill. You wont be getting or giving six or ten strokes to or from your competitors.
The top finishers in each flight will receive gift cards at every event. Prizes are funded from player entry fees with the total purse depending on the number of players at each event. An optional skins pool is also conducted at each event.
At year's end, the top points leaders in each flight receive an invitation to represent their tour and compete against other top SAGT members from around the country at the 36-hole National Championship in Pinehurst, North Carolina.
To find out more about the Senior Amateur Golf Tour, check remaining schedules and more, visit the website at www.senioramateurgolftour.net.
For more information on the Orlando Tour contact Tom Mirus at (407) 348-5650 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For the West Palm Beach Tour contact Ted Newhook at (561) 283-7729 or email@example.com. For the North Central Florida Tour, contact Jim Castello at (352) 446-3446 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm not quite 50 yet, but hopefully I'll see some of you out there in a year or so!
James Stammer has been an avid golfer and golf enthusiast for nearly 40 years. He hosts the Thursday Night Golf Show on WSTU 1450-AM. Contact him at email@example.com.