Regions series alters schedule to address players' concerns

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Since its inception in 1988, the Regions Bank Amateur Series has rolled along with few changes.

This year will be the exception. There's a new name (it had been called the Regions Cup), a new tournament, and a new executive director who has streamlined the schedule.

Two things haven't changed: There are still 10 tournaments, and the first will be the Sunbelt Nissan Golf Capital Invitational at Mount Vintage Plantation the first weekend of May.

The new executive director is Jones Creek head pro Gregg Hemann, who took over from Brett Burris, the former Forest Hills Golf Club assistant who left the area after last season.

During the winter, Hemann met with a players board to listen to some of their concerns and suggestions.

"The tournament series has a great history," Hemann said. "It doesn't need re-doing. I just want to do what I can to make it even better."

First, the players wanted Hemann to work on the schedule. Over the years, tournaments have moved around at will. The result was too many were played in a row, putting a hardship on players who must shell out an entry fee of $100 or more for each tournament.

Last year, seven of the 10 tournaments were held in the final eight weeks. There was one stretch of four events in a row and another of three in a row.

Hemann worked with the clubs over the winter, and now there are no more than two tournaments in a row, which will happen twice.

There are three tournaments in May and June, and two in July and August.

The goal is to have two tournaments a month, said Regions senior star Kenny Larry, a member of the players board.

"The main thing was to have tournaments a little more spaced out; we think that will generate more participation," said Larry, the three-time defending senior division player of the year.

"It will give us old guys a chance to rest," joked two-time defending regular division player of the year Doug Weiss, who is 42.

The new tournament will be at Houndslake Country Club in Aiken on May 22-23. It takes the place of the Perry Watson Memorial, which the board elected to drop. The Watson, held in early August at Pine Ridge Plantation in Edgefield, S.C., was one of the original events in the series.

Pine Ridge head pro Kurt Kaltz said it hasn't been determined whether the tournament will go on without the Regions affiliation.

"We always tried to keep the entry fee down, with cart, and have good food," Kaltz said. "That's what the board decided to do. They have to do what they think is best."

Hemann plans to create a set of guidelines for the tournaments starting in 2011.

"Sometime this year, we're going to try to get as many of the club pros that host events together so we can do things more consistently and get on the same page," Hemann said.

Said Larry, "We as players are going to be paying more attention this year to how golf courses treat the golfers."

Schedule

MAY 1-2: Sunbelt Nissan Golf Invitational at Mount Vintage Plantation

MAY 15-16: City of Augusta Match Play Championship at Augusta Municipal Golf Course

MAY 22-23: Houndslake Country Club tournament

JUNE 5-6: Goshen Golf Classic at Goshen Plantation Golf Club

JUNE 19-20: North Augusta Exchange Club/Persimmon Hill Classic at Persimmon Hill Golf Course

JUNE 26-27: Camellia Classic at Belle Meade Country Club

JULY 16-17-18: Augusta City Amateur at Forest Hills Golf Club

JULY 24-25: Regions Invitational at Gordon Lakes Golf Course

AUG. 7-8: Orville White Cup at Midland Valley Country Club

AUG. 21-22: Jones Creek Golf Classic at Jones Creek Golf Club


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