News from Around the Green

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

86th Texas Senior Amateur Travels to Amarillo Country Club

From the U.S. Route 66/Sixth Street District and the Panhandle-Plains Museum to the Big Texan Steakhouse and the Cadillac Ranch, all around town there are signs pointing to Amarillo’s colorful past and present.

In a quiet corner on the western edge of downtown is another beloved local landmark, Amarillo Country Club, that has been an important part of the city’s fabric for over a century. And soon the venerable club will be writing another chapter in its own illustrious history when it welcomes the 86th Texas Senior Amateur from Sept. 8-10.

This will be the first TGA major and third overall championship to be held at Amarillo Country Club, which previously hosted the 2016 Women’s Senior Stroke Play, won by Texas Golf Hall of Famer Carolyn Creekmore, and the 2018 West Texas Amateur, won by David Bolen.

“We are honored to be back at Amarillo Country Club and to have the opportunity to conduct one of our most important championships at such a remarkable venue,” said Chris Untiedt, TGA Senior Tournament Director. “The club has been a tremendous supporter of amateur golf and it is a privilege to be working with the members and staff in providing a truly memorable experience for the players.”

Established in 1919 by banker and oilman Charles A. Fisk, Amarillo Country Club was the first of its kind in the Texas Panhandle. The course was designed by William McConnell, who took advantage of the natural terrain of what was once rolling farmland to create one of the best layouts in West Texas. Warren Cantrell revised the course in 1960, with additional revisions from Jay Morrish in 1983.

After nearly 30 years without any significant upgrades, in 2011 the membership approved an extensive modernization plan overseen by Weibring-Wolfard Golf Design. The multimillion-dollar project touched on every aspect of the course including the rerouting of several holes, regrading landing zones and approaches, repositioning tees and bunkers, and rebuilding and reshaping green complexes. To improve playing conditions, more than 350 trees were removed, a new irrigation and drainage system was installed, and the course was reseeded with cool-season grasses.

The impressive renovation produced a challenging par-71 layout, which can now stretch to nearly 7,000 yards, highlighted by twisting doglegs in both directions, deep bunkers, canted greens, and thick fescue rough around the playing perimeters.

“Amarillo has a remarkable variety of holes and is a great test of strategy and execution,” Untiedt said. “The course is going to be in fantastic condition for the championship and we are confident it will provide a tremendous arena for the talented senior amateurs to showcase their skills.”

To continue to ensure the strongest fields possible for the state’s premier amateur championship for players 55 years of age and older, an 18-hole qualifying stage has been established for all except exempt players, beginning in 2023. In addition, there are also expanded pathways into the championship through increased exemption categories, including the top players ranked in the World Amateur Golf Rankings®.

Sandy Pierce of Houston won last year’s Texas Senior Amateur in a playoff at Champions Golf Club’s Jackrabbit Course and is one of seven past champions among the 70 players who were fully exempt from having to qualify. Joining Pierce are Gary Durbin of Houston (who won in 2019 and 2021), John Derrick of Waco (2020), Lewis Stephenson of Burleson (2016, ’18), Mike Booker of Houston (2015), Mike Peck of Irving (2013), and Chuck Palmer of Dallas (2012).

Among the other exempt players are current North Senior Amateur champion John Schaefer of Plano and Texas Super Senior champion Chuck Gardner of Texarkana, as well as top finishers from the 2022 championship including Andrew Hydorn of Houston (Runner-Up), Terrence Miskell of New Braunfels (T3), Kyle Kelting of Amarillo (T3), David Ortego of Spring (T6), Lee Sandlin of Dallas (T9), and Tray Tyner of Kerrville (T9).

The remaining 74 spots in the 144-player starting field will be filled with the players who successfully advanced out of the 18-hole qualifiers held Aug. 1-22 at five sites statewide.

The format for the championship is 54 holes of individual stroke play. All contestants play 18 holes on both Sept. 8-9. After 36 holes the field will be cut to the low 54 scorers and ties heading into the final round.

With so many accomplished players vying for the state’s most coveted senior title at Amarillo Country Club, there should be plenty of high drama on the High Plains in early September.

For more on the 86th Texas Senior Amateur, click here.