HOLLIDAYSBURG - Scotch Valley Country Club will be host to a local qualifying event for the U.S. Open on Wednesday.
This 18-hole qualifier will be the 11th time that Scotch Valley has been chosen to conduct such an event.
The United States Open - held this year at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina - is the most prestigious of 13 national championships that the United States Golf Association oversees each year. As a truly open event, the tournament welcomes entry from any golfer with an established handicap of 1.4 or less.
Photo for the Mirror by Ken Love
Scotch Valley Country Club will host the United States Open qualifier for the 11th time.
This year the USGA accepted a record 10,127 entrants. Most of these - with the exception of a few highly-ranked golfing stars who are exempt into the second round of qualifying, or into the championship itself - will be teeing off in early May at one of 111 local qualifying sites across the United States, one of these being Scotch Valley.
"We're proud of the fact that they've chosen us as one of their sites," Scotch Valley president Dennis DeGol said. "Our course is in really good condition for this time of year. The greens are smooth, and the rough is thick."
Each year, the USGA decides general localities for qualifying and works with regional golf associations to help determine specific sites. For the past 20 years, the USGA has decided to have two sites in the western Pennsylvania region and has appointed the West Penn Golf Association to administer the competition.
WPGA Executive Director Jeff Rivard has been involved in deciding local qualifying sites for the past several decades.
"We look for courses that are a minimum of 6,700 yards, nicely conditioned and reasonably walkable," Rivard said. "Scotch Valley is one of a handful of courses we've used near the central part of the state."
When applying, each applicant chooses a qualifying site preference. This year, 47 golfers will be teeing it up at Scotch Valley for a chance to move on to the next stage of qualifying. Most of these entrants are Pennsylvania residents, but a few are from neighboring states such as New York, Virginia and Ohio. Golfers from Florida, South Carolina, and Connecticut are also entered, as well as one golfer from Ontario, Canada.
Additionally, the central PA area will be well represented by the likes of Artie Fink Jr. of Altoona, Sean Brannan of Hollidaysburg, Mike Macionsky of Duncansville and Michael Binney and Dylan Link of Ebensburg.
Hollidaysburg's Anthony DeGol, who turned professional last summer, will also be in the field. He will be taking a break from competing on the E-Golf mini-tour, from his current home base of Saint Simon Island, Georgia. DeGol will be returning to Scotch Valley - his home course, owned by his family - and will be accompanied by his brother Dennis, who is scheduled to caddy for him during the event.
Competition will consist of 18 holes of stroke play with the lowest three scores moving on to the sectional qualifying stage, held in early June. The quality of golf at each level of U.S. Open qualifying is particularly high.
"There are some really good golfers in this field," Rivard said. "I know there are several who have made it to sectional qualifying in the past."
Rivard, who has had a part in each of Scotch Valley's 10 previous qualifying events, is looking forward to another successful event.
"I'll arrive on Monday morning to review the course," said Rivard, who is solely responsible for course setup prior to the event. "I'll be determining where to set all the tee and hole locations."
Club president Dennis DeGol is also expecting a great event and is proud that Scotch Valley has been chosen as a USGA site for another year.
"We're happy to be chosen to host this qualifier," DeGol said. "It's great to know the USGA feels that our course is an adequate test to help determine the golfers who will ultimately play in golf's most difficult tournament - the U.S. Open."