Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Manatee County Amateur Championships 2013 - personal recap of 3 days golf at the first version of this golf tournament

Playing in the first Manatee County Amateur Championship - My experience in short

This year was the year for the first Manatee County Open Amateur Championship of golf.
Presented by Pope Golf.

Right when I heard about it about 3 weeks ago or so, I decided that this could be an interesting tournament.

3 days of golf on 3 different golf courses for an amateur title in Manatee County. I liked it from the get go.

So I checked my schedule and found that I would be able to play. My next step was to get the application form. That was easy, as I was playing Manatee County for a skins game to check out the highly anticipated new greens ( which by the way turned out well).

I took the application home without further reading it. Only at home I glanced over it and found that that there was no online sign up or anything like it. Usually we pay all tournaments with CC and so I emailed Ken Powell, the head professional at Manatee County to find out if I could call in with a credit card, which he answered was no problem.

So I did. Gave the CC number and all the needed info to Brian  and was told that I am signed up and ready to go. That was a week before the final date of entry.

Thinking that all is OK , I never gave it another thought and started preparing. A few days before the tournament the tee times for the first round were published on the website. That I found was a good service. Saves time and you can print it out.

Only problem I had was, that I was not on the pairings sheet. Not too happy about it, I emailed Ken yet again and asked him what the deal was. As always he was very fast responding to my question and told me that it is no problem and I will get a tee time the next morning and I am in.

On Friday the 19th I then showed up at Manatee County Golf course. My first way was to the sign in desk, where I was greeted by two very friendly female staff members. They both smiled and it was a nice feeling to be welcome ( I actually knew one of them for years from a different course). I was pleasantly surprised that my name was on the list.

So I received my welcome package, consisting of a bag with a book of some coupons, some cheese crackers, a box with Callaway coasters and balls as well as some advertising for Pope Golf and a drink coupon.

Happy to be in , I made my way to get a cart where I was greeted by a nice gentleman who showed me my cart which was tagged with my name, clean and ready to go.

On the range we found plenty of range balls and I warmed up for a few minutes.

I did not have much time, so I talked to some players and then found my group and introduced myself to my fellow players. We checked in on the tee with Ken, the head pro and he told us that they are a little bit behind. It was about 10 minutes or so, so no big deal.
When our turn came Ken gave us the cards, told us about some rules and then announced each player and off we went

On the course we did not see any tournament staff at all.  Although I found it strange, I was never worried about it. The pace was good and the rules were clearly explained, so we navigated through the entire course nicely and without incident.

After the round I turned in my scorecard and was told that the tee times for Saturday will be posted after 5 pm on the Pope Golf website. I got myself my free drink and was on my way home. So , the first day was nice, relaxed and everything went smooth.

As promised I found my tee time after 5 pm on the website. I like when things happen like I am told they are.

Saturday I showed up a little earlier at Buffalo Creek Golf Course for my second round. Just wanted to have some more time to warm up. There was no check in. The carts were marked and ready to go. So I got mine and started to warm up.

Again we were running late a few minutes. Nothing significant.  Again Ken was at the 1st tee , handing out score cards, explaining rules and announcing the players. We also received our drink coupon for the day.

As the first round, the second round went well and without any incidents. I saw a ranger out there, but there was no work for him at all. We cruised the course nicely and there was no rule questions which we needed help for.

After the round we dropped our card in the restaurant, where Ken and Ryan had a table set up and a big paper  flight board on the wall to post the scores. It all went fast and looked  fine to me even if I expected a little more technology from this company. After all they manage all kinds of good courses and clubs.

Again we were told that the tee times will be on the website after 5 pm the same day, which they were. I really liked that.

The final day we were scheduled to play River Wilderness Country Club. I know the course well and was looking forward to play this track. Showed up early to warm up properly. Everything was in order. My cart was ready and marked, plenty of balls on the range and the chipping green. No sign in table again ( I did not think it was necessary anyhow).
I will not get into the course and range and in what shape they were. Just talking about the tournament in this entry.

Again we were running late. About 15 minutes. No big deal  again. Same scenario. Ken was at the tee box, handing out the score cards, explaining the local rules and announcing the players.

The round went well. We saw more rangers this time) ( maybe it was the same one, but he was around. However, they did not have much to do. The round was smooth and everybody was moving along nicely.

We came in after a fun round and first put our stuff in the cars. Then went in to bring in the score cards in time.  

There was a big room set up with the leader boards and table to sit and sign the cards. There also was a little buffet on one side. Fruit, different meats like roast beef and ham, cheese, salad, blackened prime rib and some bread. It all looked good and the food tasted good as well. It was nice to not find hot dogs and burgers yet again.

Soft drinks were for free. Beer and liquor was available for payment.

I enjoyed the food and the fact that there was some guys hanging out to talk golf and exchange experiences. After a while Ken marked the results of our flight and told us to be ready for a photo.

I came in tied for second but after count back I finished 3rd. At least I won some money, so I was happy. There was no big announcement or celebration . Everything was fast, organized and simple.

That was it. My experience of the 1st Manatee County Amateur Open Championship of golf.

Here are my thoughts.

The experience was a nice one. Everything was well organized and the tournament was running very smooth. I have to say that K. Powell , the head professional , was on top of everything . From sign up to finish and in between. Ken had answers and got things done.

The courses were in good shape, although I believe that did not much extra preparation for the tournaments. However, they were good and offered a good test. We played blue tees, but often had pins towards the front, which made the course shorter than shown on the scorecard.

The entry fee was fair. 125 $ for 3 rounds of golf with cart,  range balls,  welcome bag with  gifts, 2 free drinks on the first two days ( 1 each day and no alcohol), all you can drink soft drinks and a small buffet on  the final day and prices for the first three per flight.

Gift bag included :
1 sleeve Titleist Velocity ( app. 7 $)
1 Callaway coaster gift set ( app. 18 $)
1 bounce back coupon for Manatee ( value is not exactly clear but I would say savings of
  about 40 $?)
1 coupon 20 % of at the clam factory of entire check
1 coupon 10 % of any non sale item at Manatee
1 free order of Selmon Brothers wings
Some coupons for Dicks Sporting Goods

If you add it all up, green fees, bag, drinks and food. 125 $ is a great  deal.
I won 60 $. If you minus that from the 125 $ I actually had a great golfing weekend  with competition for free.

All staff members were very friendly and read to help at any time.
I was disappointed about the turnout. There was not enough players to make it a great tournament and although it is true that we are in off season and that it is a new tournament, I strongly believe that it was bad advertising that caused this to be a small tournament instead of a big tournament. No doubt in my mind , that there could have been double the players.

I only knew about it because of a friend. Without him, I would not have played as well because of not knowing about it. A further drawback might have been that the first round was on Friday. But there was plenty of players there. So why not get double ?

However, it is not my job to analyze why there was not enough players. Fact is , that I was satisfied for the price and that I will be playing next year if I am able.

No doubt , that the company will learn and evolve until next year and  change  what needs to be changed. I believe , that this could be a huge tournament with hundreds of players and I also believe that with this head pros lead, they can make it happen.  

Find an update of this tournament next year. Meanwhile I hope to get some comments  and maybe some players who read this entry share a little about how they experienced this tournament.

Thank you very much for checking out this review.

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