When renovation work on six greens forced Forest Hills Golf Club to change its normal mid-summer dates for the Augusta City Amateur to this weekend, the club expected to have a smaller and weaker field for the Regions Cup event.
The field is smaller than usual, but there is nothing weak about it, not with nearly the entire Augusta State men's golf team in it.
As of Thursday night, the only player missing of the 13 on the Jaguars' team was sophomore Tarik Can, and he might be in the field when the 54-hole tournament begins today.
Can spent most of this week in Chaska, Minn., where he made it to match play in the U.S. Amateur, losing his first round-match Wednesday.
"I'm going to leave it up him," said Augusta State coach Josh Gregory. "I'd like for him to play and he might, once he finds out all his teammates are playing."
Forest Hills head pro Scott Allen is leaving a spot open for Can in case he wants to play.
Gregory is the man behind the Jaguars playing in the tournament. When he heard about the date change, he thought since school has started, but his team isn't allowed to start practice under NCAA rules until next week, why not see if his team would play in the city amateur, which is played at the team's home course.
He thought it would be a good way for newcomers to get to know the returning players, plus it would be helpful to "kickstart the year" with a tournament, Gregory said.
But none of those are the main reason he came up with the idea.
"It was primarily because Forest Hills has done so much for our program; our invitational tournament was held here for so many years," Gregory said. "I thought it would be a great way to give back a little bit and show our appreciation for what Forest Hills has done for us."
"We definitely appreciate it," Allen said. "It's good they are playing in it. I would strongly think one of them would win it because they play out there more than anyone else."
In a team meeting earlier this week, Gregory brought up his city amateur idea.
"I said it would mean a lot to me and a lot to Forest Hills if they would pick up on it," Gregory said.
One of the reasons for the players' excitement is that Gregory is also playing.
"That was part of the deal," Gregory said.
Gregory, 31, was a four-year letterman on the Southern Methodist University golf team and then spent 21 years playing professional mini-tour events. However, he hasn't played in a tournament in "at least a couple of years."
What if Gregory beats one of his players in the tournament?
"I told them they'd lose their scholarship immediately," Gregory joked. "If I shoot a million, I'm sure they'll give me a hard time. I'll give it to them for a while if I beat them."
Gregory said he has beat his players "plenty of times" during practice rounds.
"This is a little different because there are competition nerves," Gregory said.
Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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