News from Around the Green

The latest golf-related news, notes, and feature stories from the TGA.

113th Texas Amateur Set for June 16-19

Willow Brook Country Club in Tyler is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2022, and the best amateur golfers from around the state will be in on the festivities. As one of the highpoints of the yearlong centennial commemoration, Willow Brook will play host to the 113th Texas Amateur. The championship, conducted by the Texas Golf Association since 1906, will take place from June 16-19.

“The TGA is thrilled to return the Texas Amateur to Willow Brook Country Club,” said Chris Untiedt, TGA Senior Tournament Director. “To have the opportunity to continue our long-standing relationship with Willow Brook and to conduct our oldest championship at a club that has been a proud supporter of the amateur game is truly special.”

This will be the second Texas Amateur and ninth overall TGA championship to be contested at the renowned East Texas club.

The last time the Texas Amateur was played at Willow Brook Country Club was in 1964. Marty Fleckman of Port Arthur, one of the best amateurs in the country, won the title that year with a 2-and-1 victory in the final match against Richard Yates. It was also the last Texas Amateur conducted as a match-play championship before switching to a stroke-play format.

In the years that followed, Willow Brook has hosted two Women’s Texas Amateurs (1967, 1996), three Texas Senior Amateurs (1993, 2003 and 2013) and most recently, the 2019 Texas Shootout and 2020 Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play.

Additionally, from 1990-99, Willow Brook was the home of the Eisenhower International Golf Classic, a partnership between the University of Texas at Tyler and Sister Cities International. The annual fundraising event would attract some of the biggest stars on the PGA Tour, as well as an eclectic mix of celebrities and dignitaries from around the world.

“Willow Brook has a long history of hosting prominent state championships, and we are very excited to have the opportunity to host the 113th Texas Amateur during our 100th Anniversary,” said Chris Hudson, Willow Brook’s Director of Golf. “Willow Brook has always been a huge supporter of the TGA, and the membership and staff are very much looking forward to providing the players with a truly memorable experience.”

Founded in 1922, Willow Brook Country Club began as a nine-hole course. The club expanded to 18 holes following World War II and was designed by Texas Golf Hall of Fame architect Ralph Plummer. The course went through several modifications over its history, most notably in 1978 by Joe Finger, also a Texas Golf Hall of Famer, and in 2002 by PGA Tour veteran Mark Hayes.

In the mid-2010s, with the milestone 100th anniversary on the horizon, the club hired Tripp Davis & Associates, a respected golf architectural company based in Norman, Okla., to prepare an overall master plan that would take the course into the next century.

Completed in 2018, the extensive renovation and modernization project included the rerouting of several holes, rebuilding and reshaping greens and rebuilding and shifting tee boxes and bunkers to enhance and fortify the strategic design elements. To improve playing conditions, all greens were resurfaced with TifEagle Bermuda and fairways with Latitude 36 Bermuda.

“Willow Brook was very fortunate to have Tripp Davis redesign the course beginning in 2014 with a long-range plan,” Hudson said. “Tripp’s goal was to make the course more challenging, requiring the player to use a strategic approach and execute well-planned shots. I think he accomplished what he set out to do and made it a fantastic course.”

Davis’ acclaimed efforts heightened the old school nature of the 6,782-yard, par-71 layout. The rolling, tree-lined fairways dogleg both left and right, putting a premium on accuracy off the tee. Course management, precision and distance control are also keys to scoring well, owing to the well-guarded, contoured green complexes.

“Willow Brook Country Club’s classic parkland layout has stood the test of time and with the recent refinements will provide a challenging test for the state’s premier amateur golfers and identify a worthy champion,” Untiedt said.

The TGA accepted 982 entries for the 113th Texas Amateur, just three shy of the record 985 established in 2021. A total of 44 players were officially awarded exemptions to the championship. To determine the remaining 100 spots in the 144-player starting field, 18-hole qualifiers were held at 14 sites across the state from April 2-June 6.

The list of decorated amateurs who will assemble at Willow Brook Country Club is headed by University of Houston senior Austyn Reily of Pottsboro, who won the 112th Texas Amateur at Midland Country Club. Reily carded rounds of 70-71-67-70 to finish at 10-under-par 278 and earned a one-stroke victory over runner-up Jake Doggett of Hutto. He will look to defend his title and become the first player to win back-to-back championships in nearly 20 years.

Joining Reily are several top finishers from last year’s championship, including Doggett (2nd), Clayton King of Uvalde (4th), Michael Heidelbaugh of Dallas and Chris Berzina of Fort Worth (T5), and Shaheen Momin of Sugar Land (T7).

Among the other notable players who will be competing in the 113th Texas Amateur are a number of recent TGA statewide and regional champions. They are Aaron Pounds of The Woodlands (2021 Texas Junior Amateur), Jason Schultz of Allen (2021 North Texas Amateur), Padden Nelson of Houston (2021 South Texas Amateur), Garrett Leek of Brock (2021 West Texas Amateur), Gary Durbin of Houston (2019, ’21 Texas Senior Amateur), Frederick Janneck of Fort Worth (2021 Texas Mid-Amateur), Ryan O’Rear of Leander (2020 Texas Mid-Amateur), and host club member Aaron Hickman of Tyler (2020 Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play).

The format for the walking-only championship is 72 holes of individual stroke play. All contestants play 18 holes on both June 16-17. After 36 holes the field will be cut to the low 54 scores and ties heading into the final two rounds on Saturday and Sunday.

Live scoring updates, daily recaps, as well as tee-times and pairings, will be available on the TGA website once the action gets underway from Willow Brook Country Club.