LAKE PLACID — The Whiteface Club landed a big golf tournament this year, as the Sunbelt Senior Professional Golf Tour will make a stop in Lake Placid from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1 for the Adirondack Senior Open.
The tour, which dubs itself the “No. 1 development senior tour in the country,” features some of the top players age 47 and above from across the nation and around the world. Some of the golfers have played in PGA and Champions Tour events and will be vying for $10,000 in prize money.
“These guys are a step up,” said Peter Martin, the PGA pro at the Club. “Golf is what they do. They play golf every day.”
The three-day tournament will open with a pro-am event on the first day, which is expected to field 35 foursomes that include a pro on each team. That competition will be a fundraiser for the Adirondack Carousel in Saranac Lake.
A field of approximately 50 pros will then play two 18-hole rounds the following two days on the course’s par-71, 6,451-yard layout.
“We’ve always wanted to bring an event up here like this,” Martin said. “The caliber of play will be high. The difference between getting on the major tours is only two or three strokes, and some of these golfers have been there. The guys coming here are older. They are really good and just looking to keep their game going.”
The Sunbelt Senior Tour website says it caters to players “who are preparing for life on the Champions Tour and European Senior Tour.” It’s mission is “to afford players the opportunity to experience all aspects of life as a true touring golf professional by providing a proving ground for those who are striving to reach the national tours, or just desire to compete at a top level.”
This year, the Sunbelt Senior Tour has 23 events, including nine tournaments in Florida and seven in Georgia. The event at the Whiteface Club is one of two Sunbelt tournaments in New York, with the other being the following week at the Leatherstocking Golf Club in Cooperstown.
Martin said he has played in a similar tourney in Cooperstown that had a $100,000 purse. As the pro at the host course, Martin received an automatic exemption to play in the tournament, and says he would like to participate if there are any openings. He said the first priority is to make room for all the visiting players who travel to Lake Placid for the event.
Javier Sanchez, of Fayetteville, Ga., currently leads the Sunbelt standings in prize money after earning more than $16,000 in 11 tournaments played in this year. Sanchez, a 52-year-old who grew up poor in the mountains near Mexico City, had collected nearly $100,000 in career earnings on the tour and has played in the U.S. Open.
Other players who have earned more than or almost $100,000 on the tour and have played in tournaments this year are Florida golfers Gene Jones, Jim Chancey and Dave Rummells. John Ross of West Virginia has also competed in the tour this season and is fifth on the all-time Sunbelt money list with more than $118,000 in career earnings. More than 120 golfers have earned $5,000 or more during their time on the Sunbelt Senior Tour.
Martin said Whiteface is looking for as many area golfers as possible to play in the pro-am event, and added he hopes the tournament can take place each year at the historic course, which is one of the oldest in the country.
“This is the biggest tournament we’ve had here during my days at the course,” Martin said. “We look forward to having this as an annual event. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”