Renowned resort next in long line of prestigious host facilities
Each year, the tournament field of the Rolex Tournament of Champions is made up of a laundry list of big-time junior golfers, and this year will be no different.
But it is also the host facility that boasts familiarity with big-time golf. Sunriver Resort in Oregon has hosted and is scheduled to host some of the most prestigious events in amateur golf.
“That’s our motive—to have at least one big golf championship each year,” said Tony Blasius, head golf professional at Sunriver. “We aim to have a large championship of some sort each year. The people here really get behind those things, they’re fun for us. People here get really keyed up.”
Previously, Sunriver has served as the site of the 1999 Shell Wonderful World of Golf, the 2000 NCAA Division I Women’s National Championship, the 2001 PGA Club Professional Championship and the 2002 USGA Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship.
In addition to the Rolex Tournament of Champions, Sunriver will also host a U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier and the Division I NCAA Women’s Golf West Regional this year. The NCAA will again make appearances at Sunriver in 2005 and 2006 when it will host the women’s Division I national championship at its Meadows Course and the men’s Division I tournament at the Crosswater.
With Sunriver’s involvement with the NCAA, participants in the Rolex Tournament of Champions will get a preview of a course they are sure to see when they play at the collegiate level.
“We love to do things with the NCAA because their events are at the right time of year for us,” Blasius said, referring to the fabulous weather in late spring and summer.
The Crosswater Course gets its name from the unique river crossings one encounters when playing the course. The gently flowing Deschutes and Little Deschutes Rivers are key components of the track’s design. The rivers can come into play as often as seven times in a round, depending upon tee selection and hole locations.
“The course is great as far as its playability,” Blasius said. “It’s fair, but it’s hard.”
In August of 2003, the AJGA staged a tournament at Sunriver’s Meadows Course, resulting in raised expectations for the 2004 Rolex event.
“(2003) was phenomenal,” Blasius raved. “We had great golf and the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The golf course, thanks to our superintendent, was in impeccable shape for the players. The weather was great and the golf exceeded everything we could have expected.”
The improved quality of field and the prestige of the Crosswater Course make this year’s Rolex Tournament of Champions a highly anticipated event—for the AJGA and Sunriver alike.
“The expectations are out of this world,” Blasius said. “When you have the Rolex Tournament of Champions, you have past winners and the cream of the crop coming in to play for it all. With such a great course like the Crosswater, I’m really looking forward to seeing how it pans out.”
In addition to the 72 holes of championship junior golf for the Rolex Tournament of Champions, Sunriver offers diversions for the entire family. The resort boasts 54 holes of golf and a plethora of other activities. A full-service spa, tennis courts, fishing, whitewater rafting, bike touring or a spin through the marina can all be on tap at Sunriver.
“We are a tremendous family resort,” Blasius said. “We have it all for every member of the family. The kids will seriously get tired of doing stuff.”
By hosting the Rolex Tournament of Champions, Sunriver is added to a lengthy list of elite golf courses that have served as the site of the AJGA’s longest-running event. Inverrary Country Club in Lauderhill, Fla., hosted the event in its first five years, including in 1978 when it was the first AJGA event ever.
Since then, the tournament has been held at:
• Horseshoe Bend Country Club in Roswell, Ga.
• Palm Beach Polo & Country Club in Wellington, Fla.
• Innisbrook Resort in Tarpon Springs, Fla.
• Oak Tree Country Club in Edmond, Okla.
• The Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.
• Long Cove Club in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
• Coto de Caza Golf & Racquet Club in Coto de Caza, Calif.
• The Ohio State University Golf Course in Columbus, Ohio
• Serrano Country Club in El Dorado Hills, Calif.
• and most recently, Chateau Elan Resort in Braselton, Ga.
When asked what else he’d like to see done for the 2004 event, Blasius simply responded, “Turn up the clock. Let’s get it going!”