Michael Wawrzynski is the director of the GolfWeek Amateur Golf Tour, western New York section. He is responsible for the organization and direction of an eleven-site golf tour at some of the elite Buffalo-Rochester courses (Schedule listed below.) Wawrzynski found the time to answer a handful of questions from BuffaloGolfer on the tour, its set-up and its goals during its maiden voyage in 2015.
4/25/2015 WNY Kickoff @ Terry Hills GC 5/16/2015 WNY Masters 1st Major @ Links at Ivy Ridge 5/30/2015 Mill Creek GC 6/13/2015 Diamond Hawk GC 6/27/2015 Arrowhead GC 7/11/2015 WNY Open 2nd Major @ Shadow Pines GC 7/26/2015 Seneca Hickory Stick Golf 8/8/2015 Greystone GC 8/22/2015 WNY Championship 3rd Major @ Ravenwood GC 9/12/2015 Byrncliff Resort 9/26/2015 Match Play Event @ Mill Creek GC
1. Tell us about the GolfWeek Amateur Tour. It might take a while, but we have the time. Discuss the divisions, the format, anything that folks need to know.
The Golfweek Amateur Golf Tour is a national tour in 44 different markets across the country. The tour is starting its 21st season. This is the first year in the WNY area. The WNY tour is Buffalo-Rochester based. The players are flighted by handicap, then play a gross stroke-play format within their flight. The handicap parameters for each flight are
Championship Flight 0-3.9
A Flight 4-8.9
B Flight 9-13.9
C Flight 14-18.9
D Flight 19 and above
2. What is your role and how long have you been involved in the Western New York Tour?
I lived in North Carolina for 12 years and played in this tour in the Raleigh area. I loved it. When I moved back to Buffalo 2 years ago I contacted the national tour director in Charlotte, NC a guy named Dennis McCormac. We discussed a possible WNY tour but decided it was too late in the year to try for 2014. So this past November I called again. Sent a resume, interviewed, and now I am the WNY Golfweek Amateur Tour Director.
3. How did you decide on the venues?
I looked for courses that I know are at top of everyone’s list for best in this area. I wanted an even split between Buffalo and Rochester. I thought Terry Hills in Batavia would be perfect to start the season on April 25th. Half way between the Buffalo-Rochester and always dry early in the season. Also a nice course to start the season when you are trying to off season rust of your game. The Greystones, Ivys, Hickory Sticks and Ravenwoods come later in the season when hopefully you have found your game.
4. What opportunities do the local winners have?
There is a National Tour Championship October 16th-18 in Hilton Head SC. The top 10 points leaders from each local flight get an invite. We have 10 events that players can accumulate points in. Three of the events are majors where the point totals double. Most points at the end of the year in each flight are the Tour Champions. You can also play in any event across the country and use points from that event toward your WNY points total.
5. Why is the Tour popular across the USA?
The Tour is growing in every location, mostly because of players spreading the word about how much fun ball-down tournament golf can be. Most golfers that are not Champion Flight handicappers have never played real tournament golf. This tour is an opportunity for the average player go out shoot 92 and win a golf tournament. Take home a trophy and nice prize.
6. Organizations like the Buffalo District GA and the New York State GA run championships. Why should a golfer be enthusiastic about the GolfWeek WNY Amateur Tour?
Our tour has a national presents which is nice if you are taking a summer vacation chances are there is a tournament you can play near you. I think the real draw is the completion and camaraderie that comes along with part of the tour. You meet and compete with some real nice people who love the game of golf.
7. Do tour members receive any additional goodies, beyond tournament entry and green fees?
Yes. There are a few more goodies that come along with joining the tour. When you join the tour you will receive membership into a USGA compliant club through USHandicap.com and issused an official index. Also, you receive a one year subscription to Golfweek Magazine. And a goodies bag with a tour hat, golf shirt, bag tag and a few other items.
When you sign up for an event you can play a discounted practice round the week before the event at the course the event is being played. Also 20-25 dollars of each entry fee goes to trophies and prizes for each event. The prizes are gift cards or debit cards. So the winners in each flight will have a real nice day.
8. Discuss the difference between tour majors and regular events, please.
There are 3 Major Championship in the WNY tour this year. Ivy Ridge on May 16th, Shadow Pines on July 11th and Ravenwood on August 22nd. The points awarded for these tournaments are doubled. The point system is in the Tour Manual on the website. If you win the kickoff tournament at Terry Hills in your flight you will receive 450 points toward your season total. A win at a Major will get you 900 points toward your season total. So play well in the Majors.
Most of the Directors in areas that have been doing this for multiple years run there Majors as 2-day events. We might try that this as soon as the 2016 season. Also some Directors do a stay n play for Major. I could see trying that at Peek n Peak, Bristol Harbour, or maybe over the bridge in Niagara Falls.
9. How will the season-ending, match-play event differ in format from the previous ten events?
With the holidays during the season, not wanting to play back to back weeks and of course the weather in this area we are limited with our schedule. 10 events is what the northern tours normally play. The National Tour Director wanted the points championship to be finished by
September 19th. That way they have time to send out the invites to the Tour Championship in Hilton Head which is October 16-18. I wanted to play another event in September. So although the points standings are complete after the Byrncliff event on the 12th, I thought a Ryder Cup style match between Buffalo and Rochester would be a great way to finish up the first season. Next year I will try to set up a match play event with another northern tour. So this year it’s Buffalo vs Rochester. Next year it will be WNY vs Columbus or Eastern Michigan.
10. What questions haven’t I asked, that you would love to answer? Please ask them and answer them, and thank you for your time.
How can I join the tour? You can join the tour by going to www.amateurgolftour.net (Editor’s Note: the direct link to the WNY Tour is http://amateurgolftour.net/wny_tour_pages/default6.asp)
Select the Western NY tour and bring your friends. It’s going to be a blast.