“First of all, we are tickled pink to be hosting this National Championship,” said Don Plosser, President of the Country Club of Birmingham. “This is one of the 13 championships that the USGA puts on. It all started 18 months ago with the idea that this would be a logical progression for us. We have supported amateur golf for 100 years and hosted many amateur championships, but never a national. This is a step forward for us and we are really excited.”
The Country Club of Birmingham submitted an application for the tournament last year. Bill McCarthy, director of the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, evaluated the course as well as other factors involved and decided that the Country Club of Birmingham was an ideal site for the U.S Mid- Amateur Championship.
“Well, we are excited about coming here,” McCarthy said. “Our championships are not held in the same location each year. They run around the country as far as our host sites. So when a club submits an application to host we come out and chat with them and evaluate the site in a number of different avenues such as financial, volunteers, logistics, hospitality, travel and we just felt the Country Club of Birmingham presented a fantastic venue for all of those avenues, primarily from the golf standpoint. Two courses on the same facility, elite courses and the west course provided for match play is just fantastic. It provides a variety of holes, a variety of shots. You can set it up really any way you want to for any level of difficulty.”
This is the first U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship held in Alabama and fifth USGA championship that has been held in Alabama. The last time this event was held in Birmingham was in 1986 at Shoals Creek. The Country Club of Birmingham held the qualifying rounds that year, while Shoals Creek held the final round.
The County Club of Birmingham was the second option to host the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. Forest Creek Golf Club, in Pinehurst, N.C., was originally announced as the host, but they asked out of the commitment.
“We actually had a facility on the East Coast that we were in the process of confirming an agreement with them but unfortunately their membership structure changed a little bit and they had to withdraw from the process,” McCarthy said. “’I know we’re having serious conversations, but what about one year earlier?’ They hardly even hesitated. Their response was, ‘Yeah, we can do that.’”
Four-time winner of the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship Nathan Scott is an early favorite to repeat as champion. Smith became became just the 15th player in USGA history to win the same championship at least four times. The list includes Jack Nicklaus, Mickey Wright, Carol Semple and Robert T. Jones, who the trophy is named after.
The tournament starts on Oct.5 with first round stroke play qualifying and it will end Oct.10 with a 36-hole championship match.
The winner of the tournament will receive an exemption to the Masters next April.
Plosser believes hosting the Amateur Championship has created a positive energy for the County Club as well as the community.
“I think it has done a couple of things: for one, it has energized and enthused our membership but more broadly from the club it is important community-wise,” Plosser said. “The whole golf community of Central Alabama is involved in this and is volunteering. That is something since it will bring referable positives to our area.”