Western Amateur badges on sale


ROLAND, Ark. — A limited number of spectator badges will be sold for the prestigious Western Amateur tournament scheduled this summer at The Alotian Club west of Little Rock.

The badges, priced at $100 each, are good for the entire week of July 29-Aug. 4 and are transferable, tournament officials said Wednesday at a news conference. Anyone wanting to purchase badges should go to the website, www.thewesternamateur.com and follow the link. They will be available beginning April 15. All badges will be mailed.

Outside the U.S. Amateur and the British Amateur, the invitation-only Western is the most prestigious amateur event in the world. In addition to seeing excellent golf, people are expected to purchase badges to view The Alotian Club course, No. 14 in Golf Digest’s magazine’s ranking of “America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses.” Opened in 2004, The Alotian was named the best new private course in the country in 2005 by the magazine.

Warren Stephens, who built the course, said there will be a need for about 750 volunteers for the tournament. Volunteers also can go to the website and follow the link. Volunteers over 18 will pay $100, but will receive two Alotian shirts and a hat. Badges also can be used to attend the tournament when they are not volunteering.

The tournament format is grueling. The competitors play 18 holes on each of the first two days before the field is reduced to the low 44 and ties. After another 36 holes, the top 16 players enter match play. Year after year, the match play portion is littered with players who have been successful on the PGA Tour.

Proceeds help fund the Chick Evans Scholarship. Stephens said there were 830 former caddies now attending college on Evans scholarships. Stephens said three former Alotian Club caddies are among those. The scholarship foundation funds $11 million per year in scholarships.

The Western Golf Association was formed in 1889 and the tournament was played in the Chicago area for years. Beginning in 1971, the tournament was held in Michigan for more than 30 years.