Championship Week at the Western Amateur — Golf’s Longest Tournament

The longest highway in America is US Route-20, stretching 3,237 miles from Boston, MA to Newport, OR. The longest day of daylight in the United States is on / about June 21 with Anchorage, AK experiencing 19h 21m from sunrise to sunset.

Western AmateurAnd, the ‘longest’ amateur golf tournament in America is the Western Amateur, when championship week extends to 162 holes (give or take) for the eventual winner. Yes, it is a ‘long road’ to victory that the Western Am champion must take, and, depending upon his daily tee time, could occasionally last to near sunset.

The Western Amateur is renowned for being the toughest test in amateur golf. It has been a prestigious national championship since its founding in 1899. Many of golf’s greatest players have etched their names on the George R. Thorne Trophy, but many more were unable to conquer the grueling format.

Exmoor Country Club - 18th Hole


Exmoor Country Club – 18th Hole

Unlike the U.S. Open golf championship and the open national championships of other countries, the Western Amateur Championship is an invitational event where contestants are invited based upon their achievements in amateur golf.

Over the years, the Western Amateur has earned the nickname of “The Masters of amateur golf.” For 2022, Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park will be the proud host of the 120th Western Amateur.

With the field determined at 156 players, an 18-hole practice round will be played on Monday, August 1. The first round of stroke play will be contested on Tuesday, August 2, followed by the second round of stroke play on Wednesday, August 3. After these 36 holes of stroke play, the field will be trimmed from 156 players to 44 players, including ties.

Thursday, August 4 is a demanding day for the remaining players, as another 36 holes of stroke play is added to their scores to determine the top Sweet-16 players that will then begin the match play format. In the event of ties for the 16th spot, a playoff will start as soon as the last player has completed the final qualifying round.

The match play format begins on Friday morning with an 18-hole Round of 16 teeing off at 8:00am.

The eight winners from the morning round will compete in the 18-hole quarterfinal round on Friday afternoon, August 5, beginning at 1:00pm. An identical schedule for Championship Saturday, pits the four semi-finalists in a morning round of 18-holes starting at 8:00am, with the two finalists pairing off in the championship match of 18-holes at 1:00pm.

The ‘nominal’ number of holes played by the Western Am champion would calculate as 18 holes on Monday, 18 holes on Tuesday, 18 holes on Wednesday, 36 holes on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; thus totaling 162 holes. However, the ‘actual’ number of holes could be slightly fewer, if victory margins in match play are large. On the other hand, the ‘actual’ number of holes played by the champion might even be more than 162 if playoff holes were necessitated at determination points after cut-rounds or match play rounds.

With a history dating back to 1896, Exmoor Country Club is one of the most storied clubs in the greater Chicago area. Exmoor was one of 11 charter clubs that established the Western Golf Association in 1899.

1952 Western Amateur at Exmoor Country Club

1952 Western Amateur at Exmoor Country Club

Since 1903, the club has hosted 18 national championships, including three Western Amateurs (1904, Chandler Egan), (1952, Frank Stranahan), (2012, Chris Williams), and also one professional championship, the Constellation Senior Players Championship (2018, Vijay Singh). Exmoor offers strategic challenges that test every aspect of a player’s game, with broad fairways that pinch to doglegs, some greens with open run-ups, others with false fronts, and all greens with contours offering multiple options for pin placements.

Solidly struck shots to the hearts of the greens are rewarded, but shots to the edges of greens may run off to collection areas. The course’s original architect was C.B. Macdonald in 1897, with a major revision by Donald Ross in 1915; Ron Prichard added updates in 2003.

Michael-Thorbjornsen

Michael Thorbjornsen

Headlining this year’s field as a top contender to capture the 2022 Western Am championship is defending champion, Michael Thorbjornsen, who after completing his sophomore year at Stanford University this Spring, went on to qualify for the U.S. Open, finished 4th at the Travelers Championship, and was a member of Team USA at the 26th Arnold Palmer Cup in Switzerland, and is currently ranked 5th in the world amateur golf rankings. Thorbjornsen hails from Wellesley, MA, just south of US Route-20 near Boston.

Another strong contender for the Western Am title is Travis Vick who just recently capped off a sensational junior year playing for the University of Texas Longhorns men’s golf team when he knocked in the clinching putt for the Longhorns’ 2022 DI men’s national golf championship. Vick then qualified for the U.S. Open at The Country Club, where he made the cut and finished the championship as low amateur. Travis is currently ranked 14th in the world amateur golf rankings.

Fans can watch these two top contenders plus 154 additional top amateurs for free at Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park on the dates of August 1 – 6. Parking is also free. Further information can be obtained at the Western Amateur website.

2022 Western Amateur

August 1-6
Exmoor Country Club
700 Vine Ave
Highland Park, IL

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Greg Miles

Greg Miles has been a writer following golf in Chicago since 1990. For the past 28 years he has been a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and currently is classified as a GWAA "Life Member". He played his first round of golf on his 11th birthday, and since then has played more than 7,000 rounds of golf in his lifetime at 514 different courses. He has interviewed more than 275 golfers across all the professional tours along with famous celebrity golfers. Additionally, he is a member of several other competitive and honorary golf associations, as well as the Golf Nut Society.

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