Dan Sullivan flew from Los Angeles to compete in the Lupton Invitational last weekend at The Honors Course.
In addition to representing 22 states, golfers came from as far south as Argentina and as far north as Canada for the tournament that began four years ago.
“It’s well worth the trip for me to come out here,” said Sullivan, who finished sixth in the mid-amateur division. “It’s unlike any course I play in the L.A. area. It’s a good field, and you get GolfWeek (amateur) points.”
The Lupton Invitational resulted from a lunch between tournament director Randy Yoder and club president Joel Richardson.
“I told Joe, ‘Before Mr. (Jack) Lupton is gone, we really need to have a national tournament to honor him and what he’s given us,’” Yoder said. “He’s given us one of the greatest places in the world to play golf, and a lot of people don’t get to see it.
“I wanted to do something that was different from all of the other tournaments.”
So they made the decision to limit the field to mid-amateurs and seniors and use the Stableford points system for scoring. The initial fields were developed from USGA event participants and has grown to word-of-mouth. Some participants played The Honors Course during the 1991 U.S. Amateur, the 1996 NCAA championship or the 2005 U.S. Mid-Amateur.
The field has grown from 76 players to nearly 110. Yoder said the goal is to have 60 in each division.
“It’s not meant to be a local event,” Yoder said. “It’s meant to be a national event.”
Doug Hanzel won the mid-amateur division and Paul Simson won the senior division for the second straight year. Each tournament provides a little opportunity for improvement or tweaks.
“There are some things we want to build on to keep making it better,” head professional Henrik Simonsen said. “Maybe on the scoring side, we’ll have some standard-bearers so everybody knows where they stand.”
The committee also will consider moving the date of the tournament. It will have to be moved in 2010 to accommodate the NCAA Championship and those who want to be with their families on Memorial Day.
“The goal is to always make the field stronger,” Yoder said. “We’ll evaluate this year, next year and then maybe consider moving it after 2010.
“The easiest thing to do in the world is run a golf tournament at The Honors Course.”
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...