City golf championship to take place this weekend

Published 3:44 pm Saturday, August 1, 2020

NATCHEZ —The 2020 Bill McKenney Memorial City Golf Championship will still take place this weekend at the Duncan Park Golf Course.

However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of players in the field this year will not be as big as it has been in recent years, including last year when there were over 80 players. But there will be a respectable field of 75 players ready to tee off on Saturday and Sunday.

“Tee times both days start at 7:30 a.m. and end by 11 a.m. The tournament shall be finished each day by 3 p.m.,” said Greg Brooking, Duncan Park golf course superintendent. “We shall put out tee times by 5 p.m.”

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As of Wednesday morning, the number of players had reached the cut-off line of 75. Brooking added that anyone who signs out now will be on a waiting list for anyone who drops out.

“We’re trying to be COVID-safe,” Brooking said. “There will still be five flights. About 15 players per flight.”

There have been several changes made to this year’s city championship because of the coronavirus pandemic and many of those changes apply to those playing practice rounds and even those who practice on the driving range

“One person per cart. No touching the flag sticks. No rakes in the sand traps. Can’t go into the clubhouse and no dining,” Brooking said. “You have to show up 45 minutes before your tee time. Whatever your tee time, you can’t hang around here. No difference between a practice round and a tournament round. Only 12 people at the range at a time. A lot of social distancing out there.”

Among those playing in this year’s tournament is defending Bill McKenney Memorial City Champion Jay Lessley, who tied Jordan Farmer for the third-most city championships with five by holding off former city champion Wesley Rogers by one shot. Both Farmer and Rogers will also be in the field.

Also in the field are 2017 city champion Tom Bryant, past champions Kevin Smith Jr. and Casey Ham, 11-time champion Pete Powell, and Brooking, himself a six-time champion of this prestigious event.

“Our USGA (United States Golf Association) official will be Tommy Snell. He’ll be officiating our tournament,” Brooking said.

As for when registration ends, Brooking said the tournament is essentially full.

We’re at our limit and had to rent extra carts this year to be COVID-safe,” Brooking said. “Spectators will have to be family units or they will have to disperse. They cannot stay together. Their maximum will be three to five spectators per group.”

Brooking said the family groups have to walk, they cannot go in a cart and there is to be no gathering in a parking lot.

Brooking added that the course is in great shape despite the recent heavy rain events in the region.

“It is absolutely beautiful when you come out and see it,” Brooking said.