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East Tennessee Amateur looks to stay as popular as ever even with new date

Joe Avento • May 21, 2020 at 11:45 PM

ELIZABETHTON — It has a new date, but the organizers of the William B. Greene Jr. East Tennessee Amateur are hoping for the same kind of success they’ve had for the past 26 years.

The 27th annual event at Elizabethton Golf Course is set for June 26-28 and entries are now being taken.

“We’ve been talking about this for three or four years because we’re getting older and a lot of people want to spend time with their family on the Fourth (of July),” tournament director Mike Matheson said Thursday during a news conference announcing the event. “A lot of players have told us that through the years.”

In the past, the tournament has been played over the Fourth of July weekend.

As will be the case with every sporting event going on in the near future, tournament organizers have come up with a plan to make golfers as safe as possible while dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Each golfer will be given a micro-fiber towel they can use if they wish to take out the flag stick or when they have to rake a bunker.

Carts will be sanitized before going onto the course and will be sanitized again when a group finishes.

“We think that’s the thing to do,” Matheson said. “Unless things go crazy with the virus. As of right now that’s our plan.”

Tyler Lane has won the last two championships and will be trying to become the first golfer to win the title three years in a row. Bill Argabrite and Adam Shanks have each won it three times, but never three in a row.

As always, the tournament will feature championship divisions, senior divisions and the popular match-play divisions.

One change will be the way the seniors are broken into groups. There will be two divisions — one for players 50-64 who will play the usual white tees and one for golfers 65 and over who will play the golds.

The tournament is a Tennessee Golf Association points event for the regular and senior divisions. Seniors have to be at least 55 to get state points and players over 65 who want to qualify for points will have to play in the lower age group.

The entry fee — $115 for members and $165 for non-members — covers three tournament rounds and a practice round, carts during the tournament, food each day and the usual “Carter County Bank” tee gifts.

In addition, Matheson says there will be more prizes awarded for certain accomplishments, such as eagles and for a player who makes par on all the par-threes in a round.

“We do have some new things we’ll do this year,” Matheson said. “We’re going to add some intrigue to the tournament just to try to make the it better.”

The tournament, the second stop on the Tri-Cities Amateur Tour, has had fields as big as 170 golfers. Last year, 134 players teed it up.

Chad Odom, the course’s professional and manager, pointed toward Matheson when discussing the popularity of the tournament.

“That’s why the players come back every year,” said Odom, who works for Hampton Golf, the company that runs the course. “Mike does a great job. He stays on top of it and makes sure everybody has a good time. Hampton Golf is just happy to be a part of it.”

Chris Guy of tournament sponsor Carter County Bank, who has finished second in the championship flight numerous times, echoed Odom’s sentiment.

“That’s one thing Mike does,” Guy said. “He does a great job running the tournament, but the other thing is he asks players ‘What can we do better?’ We don’t want to be complacent and start dropping off. We want to get back to that number of 170, or whatever we can handle.”

For entry information, call Elizabethton Golf Course at (423) 542-8051.

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