By RYAN PRITT
CHARLESTON - West Virginia Golf Association executive director Brad Ullman called what lies ahead, "probably the busiest summer we will ever have."
With continuous stops in the Callaway Junior Tour, WVGA Amateur Tour and Senior Series as well as a myriad of championships dotted across the calendar in the coming months, its hard to argue.
Along with all of that, the WVGA will celebrate the 100th edition of its flagship event, the West Virginia Amateur, which will be held at The Greenbrier Resort from July 30 to August 2.
That date marks a significant move for the tournament, one that gets back to where it was in the schedule prior to the PGA Tour Greenbrier Classic (now called A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier). With the Tribute changing its date from the week of July 4th into the fall, it afforded the WVGA to move the Amateur back.
"We took the opportunity to flip it back to what it was," Ullman said.
The move also coincides with a move for the 86th West Virginia Open, which had been played after the Amateur in recent years, but will now go off in just a few weeks at Parkersburg Country Club on June 19-21.
Ullman said the flip will be advantageous for both tournaments.
"The golf courses we usually host the Open on are more in their prime around mid-June," Ullman said. "The Greenbrier is kind of always in its prime."
Parkersburg Country Club has hosted the event just one other time, with David Bradshaw picking up his seventh championship in 2013.
Bradshaw now has 10 and will be the favorite once again in a few weeks, but this time around, Ullman said the players will see a much different golf course.
"It's opened up a lot since 2013," Ullman said. "They've removed a lot of trees because of disease and for the health of the turf. I started working at Parkersburg Country Club when I was 11 and it's in the best shape I've ever seen it in.
"In the last year and a half, they've removed all the fringe from the greens and widened them back to where they used to be. It took over a year for it to successfully be completed, but now the greens run right up to the rough and it's a new type of shot the players will have to deal with."
There will be a couple of noticeable absences from this year's Open field. Pat Carter, a 13-time Amateur champion, will miss the tournament with work obligations and two-time Open winner Jonathan Clark will also be unable to compete after breaking his collarbone. Charleston's Christian Brand, the 2014 and 2015 winner, will not return for another year as he continues to compete on the Web.com Tour.
Still, past contenders such as Davey Jude, Thadd Obecny and Mason Williams, as well as past champions Barry Evans and John Ross, will all be in the field among others.
More than anything, Ullman said the opportunity to bring the tournament back to Parkersburg should lead to a unique and positive experience.
"The community around Parkersburg has always supported youth golf and you'll see more volunteers than ever before," Ullman said. "But it's a great spot in that part of the state. The WVGA needs to be visible in the northern panhandle, the eastern panhandle and all corners of our state. That's something we want to push more of, getting a bigger footprint in different corners of the state."
Also coming will be the Hall of Fame inductions of Evans and Sue Vail, an eight-time women's Amateur champion with the dates of those ceremonies still in the works. Evans and Vail will be the 18th and 19th inductees.
Currently, Open qualifiers are underway with the first being held Wednesday at the Resort at Glade Springs and the second Thursday at Berry Hills Country Club. Four more qualifiers are scheduled with events at Bridgeport Country Club (Monday), The Woods in Hedgesville (Tuesday), Riverside Golf Club in Mason (Saturday) and Sleepy Hollow Golf Club in Hurricane (June 10). Entry for those events are now closed.