Golfers Work Hard in Attempt to Earn Spots on ASGA
Each and every year, hundreds of golfers living in the natural state, set out with the goal of making one of the ASGA ďCup TeamsĒ in hopes of playing in one of these annual competitions. The ASGA currently sponsors these cup teams:
Nike Cup, played each October at Hot
Springs Country Club
The Nike Cup consists of the top 10 amateurs on the ASGA Amateur Player of the Year point standings and two captainís picks; and the top two seniors on the ASGA Senior Player of the Year standing and two senior captainís picks. These 16 compete against the 12 PGA Professionals and four senior PGA Professionals representing the Arkansas PGA Chapter. The format is similar to the Ryder Cup with Four-ball, Foursome and Individual Matches.
The top ten amateurs and top two seniors are guaranteed invitations to play.
The ASGA typically provides two shirts, sweater vest and a cap and pays for all golf and golf-related functions at Hot Springs Country Club for every player who makes the Nike Cup Team. Each player is responsible for paying his own travel and lodging expenses.
In regard to ďcaptainís picks,Ē these are players chosen at the discretion of the captain. Sometimes, players 11 and 12 on the point standings are selected and other times a player who has had a dominating year in the ASGA Mid-Senior Player of the Year might be selected. These two players are chosen in hopes of strengthening the team Ė much like a Ryder Cup captain would do when selecting a PGA Tour player.
As to senior captainís picks for the Nike Cup, they do not have to be 55 years of age like the requirement to play in ASGA Senior Designated Tournaments. Either or both of these players can be 50 years of age or older, as the Arkansas PGA Chapter senior age is 50. The ASGA has selected its mid-senior player of the year (must be at least 50) to play as one of these two senior captainís picks. In 2005, the ASGA picked Bev Hargraves as a senior captainís pick, and took the top three on the senior standings. Hargraves had earned a spot on the team finishing sixth in the final amateur player of the year standings. He was moved into the senior portion of the team in an effort to make the team stronger. His move into the seniors actually meant the player who finished 11th on the amateur side, now had a spot as a top ten qualifier.
One important note to the top ten in terms of amateurs Ė players competing for collegiate golf teams will not be allowed to participate by their coach. A collegiate golfer gets only a certain number of days to play each year and since this is an organized team competition, it would count as two of his days. For example, Drew Laning finished second in the player of the year standings, but was not allowed to compete by his coach at TCU. The Nike Cup was formerly known as the ASGA-PGA Cup Matches and the 2005 matches, won by the amateurs 20-12, was the 31st annual competition.
The Ozark Senior Challenge consists of the top ten seniors on the senior point list and two captainís picks competing against 12 seniors representing the Kansas Golf Association. The tournament, which is a Ryder Cup format with Four-ball, Foursome and Individual Matches is played in Kansas on odd-numbered years and in Arkansas on even-numbered years. The 2005 matches were played at the Hallbrook Country Club outside of Kansas City.
In 2005, six super-seniors (ages 65 and older) were added to the competition, that began in 1997. Hot Springs Country Club, Chenal Country Club and Hardscrabble Country Club have the hosted when it was Arkansasí turn.
Seniors representing the ASGA pay $125 entry fee to compete. The ASGA provides shirts, sweaters and hats, similar to the Nike Cup. Each player must pay his own travel and lodging expenses.
The captainís picks are left to the discretion of the captain. This year was the first year for super-seniors, so the top three on the ASGA Super-Senior Point Standings automatically qualified and three players were captainís picks. Many times players high on the points list will not travel out of state and it requires the captain to go far down the list to compile a team.
Jim Thurston of Hot Springs Village captained the 2005 team, assisted by Jim Smith of Fayetteville.
The Mid-South Cup Matches are held in May of each year at one of the states that belong to the Mid-South Golf Association. Currently, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas comprise the Mid-South Golf Association. Oklahoma, Tennessee and Kansas have also been previous members, but are no longer participating.
The Arkansas team consists of the top eight from the ASGA Player of the Year standings from the previous year and two captainís picks. The Mid-South rules require that no player can be under the age of 25. Six members of the team are seniors with the top two from the senior standings from the previous year as automatic and four captainís picks (four of the seniors can be age 50 and older while two must be at least 55). This 10 amateur and six seniors to comprise a team changed two years ago. It used to be 12 amateurs at least 25 and four seniors.
The ASGA provides two shirts and a cap to each player and pays the entry fee of $150 per player ($2,400 per team). Each player must pay his own travel and lodging expenses.
A Ryder Cup format of Four-Ball, Foursome and Individual matches was used until two years ago at Hot Springs Country Club, when the format was changed to stroke play for the first time. Arkansas won by one stroke over Texas at HSCC and Texas won in 2005 at Dancing Rabbit Golf Club in Mississippi. The 2006 event will be played in the Shreveport area.