Regional qualifying good idea--on surface

GOLF nPB

June 09, 1991|By JOHN STEWART

Although the record entry of 206 managed -- just barely -- to get around Bethesda Country Club in Thursday's qualifying round for the men's amateur championship of the Maryland State Golf Association, it still prompted discussions on the possibilities for regional qualifying in the future.

On the surface, it seems like a good idea. Separate qualifiers in Baltimore and Washington would reduce an unwieldy number to a more manageable one for on-site qualifying. At least one

MSGA official has said he will recommend such action.

At the same time, however, other officials are suggesting alternative solutions. One thing that likely would work against regional sites is the availability of golf courses. This is an annual battle waged by all area associations in their efforts to place their events, and it might be difficult to find two additional courses.

Strange as it may seem, too, many of these men work for a living, and they might not be happy about an extra qualifying day. There also would be the problems associated with drawing geographic lines (who plays where) and determining the number of qualifiers, perhaps pro-rated based on entries, for each site.

While regional sites could open the competition to more golfers, it would seem that if this is truly a state championship, how about a lower minimum United States Golf Association index than this year's 3.4, and thus a small but elite field.

Or, the state group could do what the national body does -- refuse entry the following year for those who do not score within say 10 or 12 strokes of the course rating. Last Thursday, for instance, there were 26 scores higher than 84.

It is interesting that this year's event drew a record entry to a tight, demanding layout that takes longer to play than a wide-open course. And, as if on cue, the next two on the schedule, Fountain Head Country Club in Hagerstown, and Manor Country Club in Rockville, are the same style and presumably will draw large fields.

As is usually the case, there is something to be said for each side, and regardless of the final decisions, it seems certain there will be changes before next year's championship.

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A year ago, when Sheldon Kalish won the qualifying medal in the State Amateur at the Country Club of Maryland -- the fifth time the club had been the host -- the talk was of his 4-under-par 66, a State Amateur qualifying record for the course.

A year later, and Kalish, from Woodholme Country Club in Pikesville, is clutching a second straight medal after his 1-under-par 69 at Bethesda Country Club stood up under attack by the record field. It puts him in distinguished company.

B. Warren Corkran won the first two medals (1921-22) of whahas become a 71-year-old event and went on to win the inaugural and finish second the next year. Fred Savage Jr. won the medal outright in 1924 and shared it with Alex Knapp in 1925. Eleven-time champion Ralph Bogart, the all-time medal leader with five solos and two shared, was an outright winner in 1940 and 1941 and was one of four to share it in 1942.

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Maryland State officials weren't the only ones who put in a long day during Thursday's qualifying round, which stretched from 6:30 a.m. to 9:05 p.m.

How about Clay Fitzgerald of Congressional Country Club? He was the first player off at 6:30 a.m., shot 74, then returned to be the first player off in the playoff (14 for 11 places) at 8:30 p.m. He was rewarded by winning a berth at the first extra hole.

Or Joe Franz of the Country Club of Maryland, who played in thmorning, returned to his job in the Elkridge pro shop in the afternoon, then returned to Bethesda after a telephone call alerting him to a possible playoff at 74. His tee shot was straight, his second shot went under a tree, and he went on to eliminate himself with a triple-bogey seven.

Or Chris York, at 15 the youngest qualifier? The BethesdCountry Club member had an 8 a.m. tee time, shot 71, slid over to Georgetown Prep, where he will be a junior, to take an English exam, then returned to watch the action.

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Entry deadlines for the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corporation are tomorrow for the Baltimore Publinx Junior Championship (to be played June 17 at Mount Pleasant Golf Club and June 24 at Pine Ridge Golf Club); the Baltimore Publinx Championship (to be played June 15 at Mount Pleasant and June 16 at Forest Park Golf Club); and the Maryland Amateur Stroke Play Championship, June 26 (to be played at Mount Pleasant July 5-7). Entries and information are available from the five (x corporation-operated city courses.

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Entry deadlines for the Maryland State Golf Association are June for the Maryland Open (Prospect Bay Country Club, July 8-9-10); July 10 for the Pro-Amateur championship (Caroline Country Club, July 22); and July 10 for the Junior Boys and Girls championships (Lake Arbor GC, July 23).

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