EAST MANATEE -- The Concession Golf Club’s name is based on that memorable moment in Ryder Cup history when Jack Nicklaus conceded a short putt to Tony Jacklin that established the first tie in the match play event.
If the pristine East Manatee course is ever going to host a big event like a Ryder Cup or U.S. Open, it will have to prove it can host a collegiate tournament or two.
First up is this weekend’s Big Ten Match Play Championship. All 12 conference members duke it out for the crown over two days, beginning Friday.
“We’re all excited about it,” said Jacklin, who co-designed the course with Nicklaus and remains a club ambassador. “It will get a lot of attention in the right areas in golfing communities. The course is going to stand up to it, I know that. It’s always in wonderful condition. And we’re excited about having these youngsters here. ... We’re trying to build the momentum for the club. You can’t just open up and have the Ryder Cup or the U.S. Open. It doesn’t work like that.”
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The Concession went into talks with the NCAA about hosting the national championships about a year ago, general manager Bruce Cassidy Jr. said.
But before hosting a national championships, the Concession is proving it can host a collegiate tournament or two.
The Callaway Collegiate Match Play is set for March.
“We reached out to two different parties immediately,” Cassidy said. “We reached out to South Florida and talked to their head coach Chris Malloy. And he was on one path with the Callaway Collegiate Match Play event. At the same time, we reached out to Devon Brouse, the head coach at Purdue, through one of our pros on staff which went to Purdue and talked him about the Big Ten Match Play event. ... They both wanted to have their events here. And since they’re on parallel paths, we only wanted to have one event but you couldn’t say no. They were both such good events to have.”
The deal to bring the Big Ten Match Play tournament was set at three years.
The tournament concludes Saturday, with matches beginning each day at 7:30 a.m. The afternoon sessions start at noon Friday and 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Illinois is the tournament’s No. 1 seed. Former Out-of-Door Academy standout Zach Balit, who won a state title as an individual, is a redshirt sophomore for Wisconsin.
Two former Bradenton Prep students, Sam Fu and William Sjaichudin, play for Purdue. Another former Bradenton Prep student, Shang Zhi, is with Minnesota.
The tournament is scheduled for broadcast on tape delay on the Big Ten Network. Admission is free.
for spectators, and there will be a concession stand available.