Dennis Bush and Christian Martin were playing golf months ago when the conversation started.
Bush, the head professional and general manager at Bradenton’s River Run Golf Links, had the idea of holding a golf tournament at multiple courses. Martin, the head pro and assistant general manager at Sarasota’s Bobby Jones Golf Club, agreed with Bush that the two city-owned tracks should join forces for a new amateur golf event.
So the inaugural Bradenton/Sarasota Two-Man North/South Championship is set for July 16-17.
“I come from Indiana, and back there we had ... our county championship, which was Friday, Saturday, Sunday at three different courses,” Bush said. “So I thought why not try to do something like that, combine the two city golf courses.”
The tournament is offering a unique partnership between the two city golf facilities as neither have co-hosted an event before. In the past, though, both places worked around the other to make sure they weren’t holding their city amateur series tournaments during the same time.
That would only siphon participants from each place.
“Although everybody is in competition to a certain degree with one another, we would all like to see us all succeed,” Martin said. “So it’s one of our ways to give back and create a new buzz and a new event for the guys in the area. I think we hit a home run here.”
The new event will feature four nine-hole formats during the two-day tournament. The first round, which is contested at River Run, will use a better ball (front nine) and scramble (back nine) format. The final round at Bobby Jones will see a modified alternate shot (front nine) and Florida shamble (back nine) format.
“The shamble is really good for a guy, maybe, with a mid-to-higher handicap,” Martin said. “In a shamble, you and your partner will tee off. You get to choose the best tee shot, and then you play your own ball from that point. So let’s say you’ve got a guy that’s a 5-handicap that’s playing with a guy that’s a 15-handicap, most of the time the 5-handicap is going to hit a little bit better drive or maybe a little further or something. So the guy that’s a 15 will get to play from places that he might not normally play. ... It’s really a fun, fun way to do something.”
The tournament offers a chance for golfers to test their skills on two styles of golf. River Run gives player narrower fairways and emphasizes target golf, meaning accuracy off the tee and ball-striking are at a premium. Meanwhile, Bobby Jones’ British Course is more of a links-style with spacious areas to hit off the tee and with approach shots, while also giving players more bump-and-run chances around the greens.
The cost is $115 per player, which includes green fees for 36 holes, a tournament shirt, continental breakfast both days and an awards dinner following Sunday’s final round at Bobby Jones.
The joint venture also has Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston thrilled.
“We figure everything that happens in Sarasota is good for Bradenton and everything in Bradenton is good for Sarasota,” Poston said. “We’re sister cities, whether everybody likes it or not. ... I think this is just another opportunity to work together and work regionally.”
Those that are older than 60 will play from a close tee box than the regular division, and a team comprising of both players that are 60-or-older will play in the super senior division. Teams are flighted after the first round, and it’s limited to the first 64 paid teams. The registration deadline is Wednesday, July 13.
“Since it’s the first one, we’re going to come up with this really nice golf shirt that has Bobby Jones logo on one side, ours on the other and the North/South Championship on the chest,” Bush said. “So very few tournaments get shirts anymore. ... So we’re trying to make it a little different.”
Click the attached link below for the registration form.