Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, arguably the most exclusive private club in Orange County, continues to support amateur golf by welcoming prestigious local and national amateur tournaments to its championship course.
Not only will Big Canyon be the host venue for the 113th annual Southern California Golf Association Championship in July, the U.S. Golf Association announced this month that the club has been selected as host site for the 2014 USGA Senior Amateur Championship.
It will be the second USGA-sanctioned event to be played at Big Canyon, which also served as host site for the 2000 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship. The 2014 Senior Amateur will be played Sept. 13-18 and co-chaired by Big Canyon members Warren Caves and Terry Hackett.
“The USGA is privileged and honored to bring the (championship) to a venue that has directly supported the Association’s mission by hosting the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur and several USGA qualifying events,” said Greg Sanfilippo, director of the USGA Senior Amateur.
“Big Canyon Country Club, along with the Newport Beach community, is a great supporter of amateur golf, and we look forward to delivering a comprehensive test of shot-making, mental fortitude and physical endurance to the world’s best amateur players.”
In the past, Big Canyon hosted qualifying events for eight U.S. Amateurs and three U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateurs, and also was host site for the 1990 Big West Men’s Championship, 1996 Pac-10 Men’s Championship (won by Tiger Woods) and 2002 SCGA Men’s Mid-Amateur Championship.
The SCGA Championship, rated a year ago by the USGA and R&A as one of the top 100 amateur events in the world, will be contested July 20-22 at Big Canyon. Defending champion Patrick Cantlay of UCLA will not be able to defend his 2011 title, because he earned an exemption to compete in the 2012 British Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.
The SCGA field will not be set until the qualifiers are completed in early June, but the field already features a number of the top U.S. amateurs, including eight players who have advanced to U.S. Open Sectional qualifying in late May. Foremost in that group is Jake Knapp, 17, a senior at Estancia High in Costa Mesa, who shot a 61 at Newport Beach Country Club to run away with medalist honors in that US Open local qualifier.
Former California State Amateur champions Don Dubois (2005) and Jordan Nasser (2006), both Big Canyon members, will be competing in the SCGA Championship on their home course. Interestingly, fellow club member Will Tipton, who tied Woods’ course record of 61 at Big Canyon earlier this year, will have to qualify for the SCGA Championship.
Two other Southern California private clubs will be serving as host sites for prestigious USGA-sanctioned amateur tournaments in the span of three weeks in 2017: the U.S. Amateur at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades (Aug. 14-20) and the Walker Cup at Los Angeles Country Club (Sept. 9-10).
The USGA Senior Amateur, first played in 1955, is open to male amateurs 55 and older who have USGA handicaps not exceeding 7.4. This year’s Senior Amateur will be played at Mountain Ridge Country Club in Caldwell, N.J., and the 2013 Senior Amateur will be played at Wade Hampton Golf Club in Cashiers, N.C. Then Big Canyon will take its turn.
Kemp Richardson of Laguna Niguel, a member at El Niguel Country Club, won the USGA Senior Amateur in 2001 and 2003.