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Weather became a factor at the 103rd playing of the Texas Amateur Championship before play even began. A hailstorm that ripped through Lakewood Country Club on Wednesday afternoon damaged all 18 greens beyond immediate repair and caused the event to be moved. After canceling the first round Thursday because of the storm, the Texas Golf Association shifted the tournament to the Honors Club in Carrollton.
The event will now be contested over 54 holes and begins Friday morning at the Honors Club, a 7,042-yard par 72 Ralph Plummer course that was completely redesigned in 1999 by D.A. Weibring.
After practice rounds all week at Lakewood Country Club, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, the competitors and TGA staff gathered at the club Wednesday afternoon for a player’s dinner and TGA awards ceremony. At about 6:30, the storm slashed through the area, spitting down baseball-sized hail. In addition to the damage to the course and club, several cars in parking lot were totaled with dents and smashed windshields.
On Thursday morning about 20 TGA and Lakewood staff members spent 90 minutes fixing by hand the hundreds of divots on the practice putting green. The green was then mowed and rolled in an effort to see if the same could be done throughout the course to keep it at Lakewood. The TGA decided it was not feasible to try and repair all 18 greens.
“We did everything we could to keep the championship there,” TGA executive director Rob Addington said. “In the end, it was in the best interest of the club and the tournament to find an alternate site.”
Several Dallas-area clubs were considered before the TGA decided on the Honors Club, which hosted 2011 USGA qualifiers for the U.S. Amateur and Women’s Mid-Amateur.
“We always knew this course was amply good enough to host a championship,” Addington said. “It is similar to Lakewood in several ways. It’s not a bombers course, either. It’s very strategic. I think the contenders at Lakewood will be the same contenders here.”
For Lakewood’s part, disappointment hardly begins to describe the collective feeling. The club had undergone dramatic renovations to its clubhouse and was prepared to roll out a championship venue second to none. Lakewood last hosted the Texas Amateur in 2000. That year the final round was rained out without a shot being hit. The fact that this year’s championship coincided with the club’s centennial celebration only added to the letdown.
“The disappointment is significant,” Lakewood head professional Gilbert Freeman said. “We try to be all-in on everything we believe in, and we were all-in on this championship. This is much more disappointing than in 2000.”
Honors Club staff members burned up phone lines on Thursday, finding alternate clubs and courses for their members to play with the State Amateur ties up the club all weekend.
“We understand it was a difficult decision by the Honors Club to give up their course,” Addington said. “The board did approve it and the felt like it was the right thing to do. The club should be congratulated for that.”