AIKEN — With strict health guidelines in place, the stage is set for the 45th Palmetto Amateur.
The tournament begins Wednesday, July 8 at Palmetto Golf Club and endsgoes through Saturday. There will be a cut upon completion of the third round on Friday, leaving the low 36 for the final round.
Tournament Co-Chairman Brad Crain said Palmetto worked closely with last week’s The Rice Planters Amateur in Mount Pleasant, S.C., to set up guidelines for next week.
“It has been a lot more work than previous years, obviously,” he said. “We’re taking the COVID concern very seriously, so our tournament committee has had several meetings on how to safely administer the tournament and we feel like we’ve got a great plan in place.”
Those guidelines are strict. No fans will be allowed on the course, including parents of players. Flag pins will be untouched and rakes will not be available in bunkers. Players are also instructed to wear masks when indoors.
As for health concerns, each player will fill out a medical questionnaire upon the first day of the event and temperatures will be taken daily by an on-site medical professional. Crain said the threshold will be 100.4 and any player over that mark or having problems with the questions will be disqualified and refunded.
The field has also been reduced to 72 from last year’s 81. The field includes the three low scorers from the qualifying tournament on June 29.
“You want to get a decent size field, but at the same time we were trying to weigh the risk of everything going on with COVID-19,” Crain said. “We kind of piggybacked off what the Rice Planter’s did. They had the same number and I think reducing the number was the right thing to do. We considered even possibly going a little lower, but we felt like 72 was a good number.”
Crain added they had the highest number of applications in the history of the tournament, which led to turning away more than 200 golfers from the qualifier.
Notable collegiate participants include Jovan Rebula (Auburn University), Tyler Strafaci (Georgia Tech), Caleb Proveaux (South Carolina) and Jake Carter (Charleston Southern). Rebula received exemptions into the 2018 Open Championship, 2019 Masters Tournament and 2019 U.S. Open. Strafact was a 2020 Byron Nelson Award Finalist.
Proveaux, an Aiken native, owns top-5 finishes in two of the past three Palmetto Amateurs and competed in two Palmetto Intercollegiates. Carter, also an Aiken native, played at Florida State before going to Charleston Southern as a graduate transfer. He finished tied for 9th in last year’s Palmetto Amateur.
Other locals include Brian Quackenbush, Dane Burkhart and Alex Hamilton. Quackenbush won the Augusta City Amateur in 2015. Burkhart won the 2005 Palmetto Amateur and Hamilton is the head golf coach at Wake Forest.