Yes, the second annual Palm Springs Amateur Championship is a golf tournament. But talk to co-tournament director John Tipping and it’s easy to believe that it’s more of an event than a tournament.
The Palm Springs Amateur will be contested on five top desert courses, including the Firecliff Course at Desert Willow Golf Resort.
“This is a golf vacation with competition,” Tipping said of the event, which will be held January 6-9, 2011. “Every entrant is guaranteed three rounds of golf at great courses in the Coachella Valley at the peak time of the year.”
This isn’t your typical city golf championship, says Tipping. It’s not sanctioned by any golf organization, although handicaps are used to determine placement. It’s modeled more after three huge amateur championships: the Pacific Amateur in Bend, Ore., a 15-year-old event that attracts 750 players; the 10-year-old Mesquite Amateur in Nevada, which has a field of 800; and the World Amateur Handicap Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C., which fields 3,500 players.
“Those are all huge events that offer great competition but also a great deal of fun,” Tipping said. “That’s been the goal of this event from day one. And we’re on track to becoming a comparable event.”
Last year’s inaugural event attracted 125 entrants from across the country. This year, Tipping expects 240.
The entry fee is $595 ($645 after November 30) and will be contested on five of the Coachella Valley’s finest courses: Desert Willow’s Firecliff Course; the Nicklaus and Stadium Courses at PGA West; and the Dunes and Mountain Courses at La Quinta Resort and Club.
“Rack rate at those courses during that time of year is between $180-$200,” Tipping said. “With three rounds guaranteed — and with every participant receiving a $100 gift card for Lumpy’s Golf — you can see the value immediately.”
There also will be several skill events, including a second-shot closest to the pin on select par-4 holes.
“We like the skills events to be a little different from most tournaments,” said Tipping, whose company, Golf Shows and Events West, runs golf tournaments in the Western United States, including many in the greater Palm Springs area during the last 10 years. “And this one will award a player for both a great drive and approach shot.”
Winners of the skill events receive Visa gift cards.
There’s more than just golf. An opening-night hospitality party will be Wednesday, January 5 at a large luxury residence overlooking PGA West. On January 6, entrants can participate in the “Dine Around Old Town” event, with all participating restaurants offering any entrée on their menu and a drink for $20. Friday, January 7 is casino night, with a poker tournament at Spotlight 29 Casino. An awards banquet will be held January 8 at the Embassy Suites.
The competition itself is a 54-hole stroke-play tournament. Players compete on a different golf course each of the first three days. There are four divisions: open, ages 18 to 49; two senior divisions; and a women’s division. Those divisions are broken up into handicap-based flights, none of which will number more than 20 players, Tipping said. The top two finishers in each flight advance to the championship round on Saturday.
Five champions will be crowned: the overall winners of the four divisions, along with the overall gross champion.
The first 200 players to register will be entered into a drawing for a deluxe suite during the tournament at La Quinta Resort and Club.
Palm Springs Amateur Championship
When: January 6-9, 2011.
Where: Five top golf courses in the Coachella Valley. Each participant will play a round of golf at a different course the first three days.
Entry fee: $595 before November 30; $645 after.
More information: Visit palmspringsam.com to register.