Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Amateur golfers ready to tee off in New Year's Invitational

Some high school players like Shorecrest's Greyson Porter manage to get on the list for the New Year's Invitational, a large amateur golf tournament held locally. (David W. Doonan, Special to the Times)

Some high school players like Shorecrest's Greyson Porter manage to get on the list for the New Year's Invitational, a large amateur golf tournament held locally. (David W. Doonan, Special to the Times)

In 1927, when a loaf of bread cost 9 cents and the typical round of golf was between 25 and 50 cents, Lakewood Country Club (now St. Petersburg Country Club) started a small, local amateur tournament called the New Year's Invitational. A.T. Cooper, playing with hickory-shafted clubs, became the answer to a trivia question when he won the inaugural event.

The New Year's Invitational has been played continuously for the past 89 years. Despite the Great Depression, a World War and a fire that burned down the original clubhouse, players have teed it up the first week of January.

Through its history, the tournament has produced champions who have gone on to have stellar professional careers: Bob Goalby in 1956, Gary Koch in 1974, Gary Hallberg in 1980, J.B. Holmes in 2003, Brandt Snedeker in 2004 and Jeff Overton in 2005.

The 90th edition of the tournament begins today. The 128-player field is filled with some of the best amateurs in the country. LSU junior Brandon Pierce, who finished second last year, returns. Other top college players such as Will Long (Auburn), James Clark (Georgia Tech) and Ryan Snouffer (Seton Hall) are in the field.

Locals Jimmie Jones (Florida Southern, Freedom High), Ryan Orr (Florida, Clearwater Central Catholic), Jimmy Stanger (Virginia, Gaither), Joe Alfieri (USF graduate) and Greyson Porter (Shorecrest) are also in the field. One player who is not entered is two-time defending champion Sam Horsfield, now at the University of Florida. He had a scheduling conflict.

"The field fills up very quickly," said St. Petersburg Country Club head professional Terry Decker, who is running his 21st New Year's Invitational. "For the past three years or so we've had about 60 players on the waiting list. Before that it's been about 40."

Decker said the tournament committee selects about half the field on a first-come basis. The others are selected by their past performances. A few spots in the championship field are held for high school players such as Porter, who recently completed his senior season by finishing second at the Class A state tournament.

The tournament is also popular because it acts as a tuneup for the college season. At most colleges, school does not resume until next week. The New Year's Invitational allows college players to get in a competitive four-round tournament before the spring season begins.

And at St. Petersburg Country Club, the tournament is highly anticipated every year.

"It's a great way to carry on the tradition of the club," Decker said. "It's the oldest continually run amateur tournament in the country."

Contact Rodney Page at rpage@tampabay.com. Follow @RodneyHomeTeam.

. fast facts

90th annual New Year's Invitational

When/where: Today-Sunday; St. Petersburg Country Club

Admission: Free

Schedule: Today-Saturday, 11 a.m. shotgun start;

Sunday, 9:30 a.m. shotgun start

Defending champion: Sam Horsfield

Field: The tournament is open to amateurs only. There are three divisions — championship, mid-amateur and senior (the senior division is only three rounds).

Tournament record: 267 (2000, Jeff Klauk, Florida Southern)

Contact: stpetecountryclub.com; (727) 867-2111

Amateur golfers ready to tee off in New Year's Invitational 01/06/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 6, 2016 9:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays rally comes up short, freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays showed a little bit of offense on Saturday, but that wasn't enough to change the results that are becoming ridiculously routine, the 7-6 loss to Seattle the 12th in their last 15 games and 21st of their last 30.

    Rays first baseman Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth inning.
  2. Rays journal: Jake Odorizzi has another short outing in loss

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jake Odorizzi turned in another short outing Saturday, failing to pitch four innings during the Rays' 7-6 loss.

    Wearing white armbands, umpire Chris Guccione (68), left, Carlos Torres (37)(not wearing armband), center facing, Dana DeMuth (32) center right, and Paul Nauert (39) talk before the start of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. The World Umpires Association announced that umpires will be wearing white wristbands during all games to protest escalating verbal attacks on umpires and their strong objection to the Office of the Commissioner?€š€™s response to the attacks.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    SS Adeiny Hechavarria doesn't always look like he's going hard, but he showed impressive reactions Saturday in reversing field to catch a ball that clanked off the catwalk then firing to second to double up Guillermo Heredia on an attempt to tag up.

  4. Bucs journal: Simeon Rice gives master class on sacks to defensive ends

    Bucs

    TAMPA — As the Bucs seek their first 10-sack season from a player since Simeon Rice in 2005, who better to help that cause than Rice himself?

  5. Bucs' annual Women of RED preseason party attracts nearly 2,000

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Theresa Jones is primarily a college football fan, but she wanted to get a taste of the Bucs. So the 46-year-old Tampa resident bought a ticket for the team's Women of RED Ultimate Football Party at Raymond James Stadium on Friday.

    Lee White of Seminole tries on a helmet at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers female fans descended upon Raymond James Stadium for the ultimate football party, the 2017 Women of RED: The Takeover, supported by Moffitt Cancer Center. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times