FWGA president Steve Vernasco has not seen a drop in participants this summer despite the sagging economy and other factors that, according to some surveys, have caused golf participation to drop in recent years.
“Overall we were slightly higher than last year as far as the number of people that entered,” said Vernasco. He estimated that 123 players attempted to qualify for the city championship, in addition to the 78 automatic qualifiers from last year’s tournament.
Vernasco can’t speak for course owners and managers, but in his view, golf in Fort Wayne is still going strong.
“Not only in the city tournament are entrants up from previous years,” he said.
“In all our events we’ve had a big increase in players.”
The city championship is Fort Wayne’s highest-level golf tournament and the competition is intense.
“It’s taken very seriously,” said Vernasco. “All the golfers are there to compete.”
This year’s city tournament is expected to be particularly competitive, with many players contending for the championship.
“I think 15 to 25 guys have a legitimate shot to win this year,” said Vernasco.
According to Vernasco, there are usually three groups of competitors.
“The goal is to make the exempt list for next year’s tournament,” he said.
“Then there’s the guys trying to place in the top 25. The rest are going for the win.”
The top 78 finishers in this year’s tournament automatically qualify for next year’s tournament.
Players of all ages are able to participate in the tournament, so long as they are successful in qualifying. Area high school and college players will be participating, with the rest of the field filled with older players.
“We’ve got quite a few 50-plus senior players this year and it’s a good competitive group,” said Vernasco.
2008 FWGA Men’s City ChampionshipWhere: First round takes place at Brookwood Golf Club (10304 Bluffton Road). Second and third rounds take place at Sycamore Hills Golf Club (11836 Covington Road).
: First round starts at 8 a.m. Aug. 9, second round at 8 a.m. Aug. 10 and final round at 8 a.m. Aug. 11.
Exempt players will tee off in the morning, with qualifiers teeing off later in the day. A full list of tee times and pairings will be available the day before the tournament at the host golf clubs and on FWGA’s Web site at www.fwga.com.