For the first time in the club’s history, Tippecanoe Country Club will host one of this year’s USGA Senior Amateur qualifiers today.
Local golfer Dick Marlowe will be in the field of 48 golfers vying for two qualifying spots in next month’s senior championship.
With Marlowe’s recent history in the event, and Tippecanoe’s favorable reputation, it created the perfect storm to get a qualifier in Northeast Ohio.
“It’s just a prestigious event to have and be a host for here,” said club pro Michael Spiech. “I’ve been in the golf business 31 years and we’ve only had it here once now.”
The field tees off at 9 a.m. today. Marlowe has competed in the event for the past seven years and has qualified three times.
This year he has 18 distinct advantages over the rest of the playing field and they’re found at the end of each hole.
“I feel being that Mr. Marlowe’s one of our best players here, he’s got a big advantage, especially around our greens,” Spiech said. “I think home-course advantage can be a two- or three-shot advantage.”
The USGA will set up the yardage at which the course needs to play for the event. Marlowe says he’ll be ready for whatever length the organization decide to make it. The one thing they can’t change are the greens.
“The faster a course is, the more challenging the course is, so you can’t just shoot at the flag sticks. You’re going to have to play defensive sometimes,” Marlowe said. “We have a golf course that’s always in great condition thanks to Jerry Cox, the superintendent.
“Our course, we think, is the best-conditioned course in our area.”
It’s going to be put to the test today, as players 55 and older from all across the region — and at least one from Canada — fight for spots in the senior championship at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, Calif., from Sept. 13-18.
“The competition is very good and half the field is going to be scratch handicap players,” Marlowe said. “I’m looking to be one of the low two players and get to California to try and win the national championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”
“It’s pretty tough to make it but we got confidence in Mr. Marlowe,” Spiech said. “He knows the course better than anyone.”
Asked what he thinks he needs to shoot to be in contention, Marlowe laughed and said, “That’s a good question.”
“I’m usually right around even par here, but golf can be very humbling sometimes,” he said.