Since as far back as I can remember the SF City has always qualified 64 players into match play contested over 4 weekends. With a 36 hole semi and final match the last weekend. This great amateur tournament has always had it’s challenges with difficult weather conditions, course conditions and now with the financial mess that SF is experiencing resulting in escalated green fees since the renovation.
Tournament Chairman Mike Miller has worked hard trying to attract sponsors to assist with the tremendous cost to play in this event, with the last few years being even tougher with the financial crisis and loss of Visa as a sponsor. What most don’t realize is the tremendous effort by the tournament committee soliciting sponsors to assist the players in subsidizing the fees charged during the event. Going to a match play field of 32 helps reduce the subsidy burden, but doesn’t eliminate the challenge completely.
In a perfect world the city we love, SF would embrace this as an important historical event and would assist the tournament in making this an affordable event for all players that want to compete. There would be one entry fee and NO daily green fees once a player reaches match play. This would be the same for all the flight players as well. In my view that’s the biggest challenge and issue to overcome, not an easy one. The second change I’d work towards would be moving this great event to a time period where the players wouldn’t have mud balls on virtually every shot. Moving this event to the first three weeks of September would eliminate the mud balls and players would perhaps even enjoy some roll on their tee balls. The only reason I’ve heard for the city NOT being played in September is that the city can fill all those tee times with maximum green fees vs. the Feb/Mar time frame when they know they lose play due to poor weather and course conditions.
Despite these challenges, I treasure my 30 years of memories competing in one of my favorite amateur events I’ve ever played in. My most cherished golfing memory will always be from the 1999 SF City Final match when I defeated my golfing idol Gary Vanier on the 35th hole (#17) where I made my 12 th birdie of the day to beat a guy that had won the event 6 times and had NEVER lost a final match. Growing up reading about this event during my childhood made this event the most important event I knew of growing up. All the big amateur names would always fiercely compete anually in this event that caries so much incredible history. The Venture/Ward match in front of 5,000 spectators is prominently discussed in the book “The Match” and gives great insight into why this is such an important event.
Despite the snow or rain we’ll see on Saturday I am so looking forward to once again teeing it up on these wonderful historic courses that have graced some of the best players to ever play this game that we love and cherish. Good luck to all!