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December 11, 2023

AGA announces 2024 schedule, qualifying changes

By Gregg Dewalt, Alabama Golf News Editor
Tyler Watts celebrates Alabama Golf Association title

State's strength of field means AGA champs gain entry into USGA events

HOOVER – The Alabama Golf Association announced its 2024 competition schedule, which contains some significant news for the state’s amateurs.

For the first time, winners of the boys, girls, women’s and men’s state amateur championships will be exempt into their respective USGA national tournament counterparts.

In the discussion stage for some time, the USGA finally made it official beginning next year that state champions would be exempt from qualifying for those national tournaments – dependent on the state tournaments meeting certain three-year tolling WAGR Power (field strength) thresholds.

The 2023 winners in those events were Tyler Watts (state am), Michael Crocker (boys), Scarlett Schremmer (girls) and Gabriela Nicastro (women’s am). Under the new format, all four would have been included in their respective USGA championships.

Because the boys amateur champion earns a berth in the U.S. Junior Amateur July 22-27, the state boys championship is shifting from its usual date in late-July to June 18-20 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Silver Lakes.

Also, the Alabama State Amateur will be played June 3-5 at Shoal Creek Club. It’s the first time the state’s top-rated course will host the event, the ALabama Golf Association announced.

“I cannot express how significant the addition of a USGA championship exemption provided to state amateur champions across these four categories is to the AGA,” Alabama Golf Association Executive Director Andy Priest said.

“Not every state is receiving all four exemptions in 2024 due to strength of field thresholds, so this speaks to the high level and depth of competitive amateur golf played here in Alabama. Hopefully it will be an incredible boost for all golf associations across the country to further incentivize their elite level players to compete in their local association’s state championships.”

Priest said the exemptions had been under consideration by the USGA “for quite a while.”

“With the popularity of golf now, securing over 650-plus qualifying sites annually across the country for national championship qualifying has become unsustainable,” he said. “Therefore, using state amateur championships as “qualifiers” will help reduce the number of qualifiers nationally while easing the demands placed upon associations and our member clubs to host these events.”

A total of 24 championships and other playing opportunities for Alabama golfers of all ages and abilities is set for this coming year. Anniston Country Club will host multiple championships held concurrently over two time periods this summer including the 92nd Alabama Women’s State Amateur Championship that was last hosted there in 1993.

Priestsaid he was elated to be able to bring the state am to Shoal Creek. The course annually is a consensus Top 100 course in the U.S. It has hosted two PGA Championships and the U.S. Women’s Open.

Nicastro with golf trophy
Gabriela Nicastro hoists the Alabama Golf Association’s 2023 stroke-play trophy. (Photo: Alabama Golf Association)

“Not only are we excited but more importantly so is the leadership and staff at Shoal Creek Club to host the Men’s State Amateur for the first time and will host the Women’s State Amateur at a future date,” Priest said. “Shoal Creek is an iconic facility that has hosted major championships and will be a stern test for the top amateurs in the state in June, especially being a walking-only facility that will introduce endurance as part of the championship experience. This year’s championship will have a “major” feel to it and I’m thrilled for 156 of our members to enjoy this experience.”

Here’s a look at some of the other changes for 2024:

Alabama Women’s Am format change

After 91 years, the Alabama Women’s State Amateur Championship will change its format from match play to stroke play. Over the last several years, the Alabama Women’s Stroke Play Championship has produced a stronger field versus the Women’s State Amateur match play format.

As part of the USGA exemption opportunity, the stroke-play format event met the WAGR Power threshold to be eligible for the exemption. The format change does not change the history of the Alabama Women’s State Amateur, and this coming year will be the 92nd edition at Anniston Country Club.

The Alabama Women’s Stroke Play Championship will be retired and its history retained in our records, Priest said. The addition of a new Alabama Women’s State Match Play will continue to offer our members a match-play format tournament, he said.

The Men’s State Amateur Championship made this format change in 1955. Now,  the state amateur formats for both men and women in the state will be the same and both provide an exemption into their respective USGA national championship.

Inaugural Alabama Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship

The AGA is adding a new championship aimed at offering women ages 22 and up, who are not a member of a college golf team, with an additional opportunity to continue playing competitively.

The Inaugural Alabama Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship is a 54-hole stroke play WAGR-ranked tournament that will be played concurrently with the Alabama Girls State Junior from June 3-5 at GlenLakes Golf Club in Foley.

Expanded Alabama State Parent-Child Championship

Responding to the overwhelming demand and to accommodate more participants at Highland Park Golf Course, the AGA is expanding the Alabama State Parent-Child Championship field. Based upon division, teams will be assigned to either June 25 or June 26 to compete in the 18-hole competition using a modified alternate shot format.

Course lineup

In addition to Shoal Creek and Anniston Country Club, the AGA has a stellar lineup of courses that will host events in 2024. Some of the prominent courses hosting events include the Country Club of Birmingham, Limestone Springs, Saugahatchee Country Club, Willow Point, Hoover Country Club and Canebrake. Five Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail courses will host events – Capitol Hill, Silver Lakes, Oxmxoor Valley, Grand National and The Shoals.

Other courses hosting are Burningtree, River Chase, Azalea City, GlenLakes, Highland Park, Bent Brook, Indian Hills and WynLakes.

Priest said a lot goes into securing sites to host AGA events and he’ss happy that the 2024 schedule includes stops from north Alabama to the Gulf Coast.

“There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to scheduling – aerification, renovation projects, summer bent grass maintenance, club events, other local, state or national events so it can be a daunting task, but somehow we pull it together each year,” he said.

“Really the credit for an outstanding 2024 tournament schedule goes to our hard-working staff and to our member clubs for their incredible support. We are proud that the tournament schedule spans the entire state, from Florence to Foley and look forward to seeing a great turnout at each event.”

2024 AGA and USGA Tournament Schedules

USGA Championship Qualifying

Alabama Golf Association will conduct nine USGA Championship qualifiers in 2024 starting with the 2024 U.S. Open Local Qualifying at RTJ Silver Lakes in Glencoe on May 9 and ending on Sept. 5 with the 2025 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Qualifying at Hoover Country Club.

  • May 9: U.S. Open Qualifying, RTJ Silver Lakes, Glencoe
  • May 29: U.S. Junior Amateur Qualifying, The Country Club of Birmingham, Birmingham
  • May 30: U. S. Senior Open Qualifying, Wynlakes Golf & Country Club, Montgomery
  • June 6: U.S. Girls’ Junior Qualifying, GlenLakes Golf Club, Foley
  • July 3: U.S. Amateur Qualifying, Burningtree Country Club, Decatur
  • August 7: U.S. Senior Amateur Qualifying, Anniston Country Club, Anniston
  • August 14: U.S. Mid-Amateur Qualifying, Saugahatchee Country Club, Auburn
  • August 14: U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Qualifying, Saugahatchee Country Club, Auburn
  • September 5: 2025 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Qualifying, Hoover Country Club, Hoover

2024 Alabama Golf Association Tournament Schedule

  • March 4: 2024 Ladies’ Spring Two-Person Scramble, Highland Park Golf Course, Birmingham
  • May 2-5: 42nd Alabama State Four-Ball Championship, Hoover Country Club, Hoover
  • May 16: Alabama State Amateur Qualifying, Riverchase Country Club, Birmingham
  • May 17-19: 27th Alabama State Senior Championship, Limestone Springs, Oneonta
  • May 17-19: 6th Alabama State Super-Senior Championship, Limestone Springs, Oneonta
  • May 20: Alabama State Amateur Qualifying, Limestone Springs, Oneonta
  • May 21: Alabama State Amateur Qualifying, Canebrake Club, Athens
  • May 22: Alabama State Amateur Qualifying, Azalea City Golf Course, Mobile
  • May 28: Alabama State Amateur Qualifying, RTJ at Capitol Hill (Senator), Prattville
  • June 3-5: 61st Alabama Girls State Junior Championship, GlenLakes Golf Club, Foley
  • June 3-5: 1st Alabama Women’s State Mid-Amateur Championship, GlenLakes Golf Club, Foley
  • June 5-8: 108th Alabama State Amateur Championship, Shoal Creek Club, Shoal Creek
  • June 18-20: 79th Alabama Boys State Junior Championship, RTJ at Silver Lakes, Glencoe
  • June 18-20: 92nd Alabama Women’s State Amateur Championship, Anniston Country Club, Anniston
  • June 18-20: 51st Alabama Women’s State Senior Amateur Championship, Anniston Country Club, Anniston
  • June 18-19: 6th Alabama Women’s State Super-Senior Amateur Championship, Anniston Country Club, Anniston
  • June 25-26: 7th Alabama State Parent-Child Championships, Highland Park Golf Course, Birmingham
  • July 9-11: 1st Alabama Women’s State Match Play Championship, Auburn University Club, Auburn
  • July 9-11: 6th Alabama Women’s State Senior Match Play Championship, Auburn University Club, Auburn
  • July 23-24: 5th Alabama State 13 & Under Junior Championships, Bent Brook Golf Club, Bessemer
  • July 24-25:17th Alabama Women’s State Four-Ball Championships, RTJ at Oxmoor Valley (Valley), Birmingham
  • July 24-25: 6th Alabama Women’s State Senior Four-Ball Championships, RTJ at Oxmoor Valley (Valley), Birmingham
  • July 30-31: 12th Southern Junior Cup, RTJ at The Shoals, Muscle Shoals
  • August TBD: 6th Women’s Southeastern Challenge Match, Site TBD, Florida Host
  • August 8-11: 23rd Alabama State Match Play Championship, Anniston Country Club, Anniston
  • August 8-11: 4th Alabama State Senior Match Play Championship, Anniston Country Club, Anniston
  • August 23-25: 6th Southeast Mid-Amateur Four-Ball Championship, Willow Point Golf & Country Club, Alexander City
  • September 3: 2024 Ladies’ Fall Two-Person Scramble, RTJ at Grand National (Lake), Auburn
  • September 13-15: 36th Alabama State Mid-Amateur Championship, Indian Hills Country Club, Tuscaloosa
  • October 11-13: 30th Alabama State Senior Four-Ball Championship, Wynlakes Golf & Country Club, Montgomery
  • October 11-13: 6th Alabama State Super- Senior Four-Ball Championship, Wynlakes Golf & Country Club, Montgomery
  • TBD : 2nd Alabama Cup (Amateurs vs. Professionals), Site TBD

 2024 Junior Golf Alabama (JGA) Tour

  • March 16-17: Junior Golf Alabama Kickoff, Lakewood Golf Club (Dogwood), Point Clear
  • May 22-23: Burningtree Junior Amateur, Burningtree Country Club, Decatur
  • June 26-27: Goose Pond Junior Amateur, Goose Pond Colony Resort (Lake), Scottsboro
  • July 10-11: Timberline Junior Amateur, Timberline Golf Club, Calera
  • July 30-31: Birmingham City Junior Amateur, Highland Park Golf Course, Birmingham
  • September 14-15: Mobile Junior Amateur, Azalea City Golf Course, Mobile
  • October 12-13: Hudson Junior Amateur, Musgrove Country Club, Jasper
  • November 9-10: JGA Tour Final Presented by Smylie Kaufman, Vestavia Country Club, Vestavia Hills

For more information about the Alabama Golf Association and the 2024 competition season, go to www.alabamagolf.org.

Gregg Dewalt is the editor of Alabama Golf News

Have a story idea or a news item to report to Alabama Golf News? Email gregg@alabamagolfnews.com

Featued image of Tyler Watts and friends celebrating his 2023 state amateur victory courtesy of the Alabama Golf Association

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