What a Jones Cup.
This year we were treated to a playoff between Big Canyon and Mesa Verde country clubs on a course in immaculate condition, on a postcard-type day at Newport Beach Country Club. The fairways were like carpet. The greens looked smooth and were fast according to two Big Canyon players and there was plenty of grit and determination to go around.
"The course was in magnificent condition," said Gary Singer, Big Canyon's senior champion who birdied the par-five 18th hole to help his club repeat as Jones Cup champions.
NBCC general manager Perry Dickey did it right, allowing Mesa Verde and Big Canyon's teams to join together for the playoff hole, creating in a sense a "tensome." Play moved right along. There was no confusion.
Shot after shot boiled down to Singer reaching the par-five 18th hole in two and sinking the deciding birdie putt. After on the club's patio, Big Canyon's team of women's champion Lisa Brennan, head pro Robert Pang, assistant pro Michael Castillo, Singer and men's champion Mike Carpenter posed for a picture after the club captured its eighth title in the tournament's 13-year history.
Carpenter provided the heroics in regulation with a 25-foot eagle putt on the 18th to help Big Canyon tie Mesa Verde at 12-under-par 130. Big Canyon trailed by three shots heading into the final hole. But they powered through. Castillo got up and down for a birdie and Carpenter hit the putt that will be talked about for a long time.
There are so many people to thank for this event. Richard Dunn, a former Pilot sportswriter helped orchestrate the Jones Cup 13 years ago. Back then the men and women played in separate tournaments (men in the Jones Cup and the women in the Tea Cup). Now the Jones Cup is one event on one day when everyone gets together for a competitive day of golf.
Yes, the round is competitive. On the surface, the tournament is essentially for bragging rights. No men's or women'sU.S. Openberths are on the line. But watching Big Canyon players study putts on Wednesday revealed that this tournament means something. The act of competing stirs the juices, creates adrenaline and spurs golfers to their best. Players approached shots with the tenacity of seasoned pros.
After the round Brennan said, "This is a whole different feeling than playing regular women's tournaments."
I can only imagine the other groups approached the round with similar effort. As the sun went down, Big Canyon hoisted the trophy a second straight year, players congratulated one another on the patio and another Jones Cup went into the books.
Thanks to the Newport Beach Country Club members who gave up their course for the afternoon and for all the people who make the event possible every year. Joe Winkelmann of Greenstripe Media Inc. does a fantastic job organizing things. The Jones Cup is a great event.
The 113th Southern California Golf Assn. Amateur championship at Big Canyon Country Club is fast approaching. The tournament will be held July 20 through 22 and include a handful of area players.
Big Canyon will be represented with Carpenter, Will Tipton, Jordan Nasser, Stewart Hagestad and Don DuBois all scheduled to compete. Also in the 84-player field are UC Irvine's Ryan Knapp and younger brother Jake Knapp, Ryan Gale (Mesa Verde), Cole Fisher (Newport Beach Country Club) and Corona del Mar resident Timothy Beans.
The SCGA Amateur is the organization's oldest tournament and is held each year at the home course of the current association president (Dennis Harwood).
Past champions include Paul Stankowski (1989), Tiger Woods (1994) and Patrick Cantlay (2011), the former UCLA phenom who turned pro last month.
The format is 72 holes of stroke play. Golfers will play 36 holes on July 20, with the low 42 scores plus ties moving on to the third round July 21.