City to host senior amateur championship

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, August 22, 2012

NATCHEZ — Natchez hasn’t hosted a state amateur championship since 1973, but the 39-year drought will end this weekend.

But hopefully, the end of one drought doesn’t signal any literal rainfall, Beau Pré Country Club President Chuck Fields said.

Beau Pré will host the Mississippi Golf Association Senior Amateur state championship Friday through Sunday, and Fields is one of 10 locals that will compete in the 72-person tournament. Fields said he’s competed in other statewide tournaments in the past, but this will be his first senior championship.

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“I don’t figure I’m very much of a threat to win a title, but I’m happy to be able to compete in it on my home course,” Fields said.

Despite his tempered expectations, Fields said he does go into the tournament with one advantage — his knowledge of the course.

“Local knowledge is extremely helpful, particularly on the greens,” he said.

In addition to Fields, Bill Byrne, Greg Brooking, Bill Lambert, Craig Bradford, Louie Brown, Doug Brown, Bobby Meason, Howard Jones and Pete Powell round out the Natchez participants. Out of that list, Fields said Jones, Powell, Brooking and Bryne could possible challenge for a state title.

“Any of those four guys could easily get it going for three days and win that thing,” Fields said.

Brooking, though, wasn’t quite as confident.

“I’ve been busy, so I haven’t had time (to practice),” Brooking said. “I’m still going to play, because the opportunity doesn’t come very often.”

With 72 golfers potentially bringing their spouses, Brooking said the tournament could have a strong impact on the local economy.

“I’m glad we have a facility that can host something like this,” Brooking said.

Though Fields said he was disappointed that more people aren’t participating, he said 72 isn’t an insignificant number.

“People will stay in our hotels and head out to our hotels,” Fields said. “This kind of showcases Natchez and showcases our golf course.”

And helping to put Beau Pré on the MGA’s map is something Fields said he’s thrilled about.

“We’re happy to be hosting this event,” Fields said. “We’ll keep our fingers crossed for good weather.”