TRUCKEE — If you like amateur golf at its purest form, circle the dates July 22-27 on your calendar.
That’s when the top 156 junior boys golfers in the country will converge on the picturesque and demanding Martis Camp Club course for the 2013 USGA Junior Amateur Championship.
This is the 10th time that the junior amateur championship will be held in California, and this is the first time that an area course has hosted the prestigious event. The last time the USGA hosted an event in the Reno-Tahoe area was 28 years ago, the U.S. Senior Open at Edgewood Golf Course.
A total of 2,941 entries were received for this year’s championship, and sectional qualifying has already started around the country. Any golfer 18 or younger with a USGA index of 6.4 or less could enter the tournament, Qualifying is being held in 45 sites.
Previous amateur championships were held at Los Angeles Country Club, Stanford University, California Country Club, Singing Hills Golf & Country Club, Sunnsyside Country Club (twice), Lake Merced Golf & Country Club, the Olympic Club and Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club. The latter course hosted the event in 2006.
Martis Camp submitted a bid proposal approximately two years ago which was accepted. For the past 18 months, course officials have been busily lining up volunteers to work the event and lining up families to host the golfers and their caddies. It’s a major coup for the course, which has been open just five years, to land such a prestigious event. And, golf enthusiasts from all around the country will get to admire the scenic course because Golf Channel is televising the final two days of the event, July 26 and 27, a total of four hours of programming.
“It’s quite a place here,” said Skip Gist, the executive director of the USGA. “This is my first visit. I came (Tuesday) and got a full tour from Gus (Jones, head professional). It’s spectacular, absolutely spectacular. This golf course will very much represent any championship we could hold, and we’re proud to have the junior amateur championship here.”
And, the staff at Martis Camp is ready to put on a great show, which could lead to hosting future events.
“We feel very honored to host the 66th annual championship,” said Mark Johnson, a partner at Martis Camp at a news conference held Wednesday to announce the event. “We feel like we’re on top of the world, and in the next four weeks we’re going to deliver the bacon. We’re going to walk the walk and have a great championship.”
The junior golfers who survive the sectional qualifying will have quite a test awaiting them. The USGA is setting up the course at 7,675 yards, the longest in USGA history for this event. It will play to a par-72. The slope from the tournament tees is 154 and plays to a rating of 76.2.
“Martis Camp will be set up to challenge the best junior golfers; the most rigorous yet fair test in championship golf,” said Greg Sanfilippo, the tournament director from the USGA. “What is unique is the course sits in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The surrounding views will take their eyes away from their shots for just a few moments. It will be a big challenge for players who aren’t used to playing courses at 6,000 feet. We’re taking full advantage of the natural landscape and architecture.
“Being situated at elevation (5,800 feet), the ball will fly 15-20 yards further on a well-hit shot. They will have to adjust quickly. We’re gong to utilize the tees to create different lines. We’ll be adjusting the yardage daily. We may move the par-3s and change the yardage. Good course management is absolutely necessary.”
Sanfilippo pointed out there will be some risk-reward holes.
“We’ll have a par-4 that you can drive (314-yards, No. 16),” Sanfilippo said. “There will be some par-5s that you can reach in two shots.”
The par-3s on the front will be tough. The third hole plays 219 yards with a small pond in front of the green, and No. 8 will play at 250 yards.
It promises to be a great event, and the best part about it is that it’s free of charge to spectators.