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A tournament of excellence… 26th Annual William B. Greene Jr. East Tennessee Amateur set to tee off

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com          
One good sign that the pendulum continues to swing toward the side of returning to normal after COVID-19 is the announcement of the upcoming 26th Annual William B. Greene Jr. East Tennessee Amateur to be played at Elizabethton Golf Course Friday June 26th through Sunday June 28th, 2020.
This year’s tournament is being moved up from the past tournaments which were played around the July 4th holiday and were a move by the tournament committee to meet the request of golfers that wanted to spend that time with their families.
The tournament has featured many great champions over the years both locally and from afar. Tyler Lane will return for this year’s tournament seeking his third consecutive tournament win which hasn’t been accomplished in the tournament’s 26 years of existence.
Carter County Bank has been the title sponsor since the event’s birth in 1995 and makes it possible to hold such a great tournament year in and year out.
The name of the tournament was renamed to the William B. Greene, Jr. tournament to celebrate the tournament’s rich history. Greene has been one of the staunch supporters of the tournament since its inception.
Aside from moving the dates of the tournament, tournament director Mike Matheson said that another change that hopefully will draw more to the tournament occurs in the senior division of play.
“We are changing the Senior Division a little bit,” Matheson stated. “We are going to have a 50 to 64 division and Super Seniors.
“There have been requests for that over the last few years. We are going to have the Super Seniors on our Super Seniors tees and that will be a different division. If someone is 67 and wants to compete for state point events, then they will have to play in the 50 to 64 division.
“I have talked to a lot of other seniors across the state that wanted to come up here and I asked them their opinion.”
Matheson and his team have also tried to address the concerns with COVID-19 and came up with a solution they hope will help.
“This year with the virus we are going to issue each player on each day a microfiber towel. We are going to have rakes and we are going to take the flag sticks out. We believe this is the thing to do in allowing the players to use the towel on the rakes and the flagsticks,” stated Matheson.
“We just couldn’t find enough volunteers to rake bunkers and take flag sticks out.”
Matheson, who normally starts planning the tournament immediately after the current one is being played is always looking for ways to improve on the tournament from one year to the next.
To do that, he reaches out to those who participate to get their feedback and as a result, another change has been implemented.
“Every year, there are about 10 to 12 people that I ask on Sunday afternoon what we can do better and its people that I value their opinion,” Matheson commented.
“With a lot of people, you mention blue tees and they don’t like it. We are going to use our gold tees for Super Seniors and then we are going to use the white tees for our senior division and we will have a little bit tougher pin position.
“Those are two suggestions that we got last year. The pins will not be set in the middle of the greens like they were last year.”
Matheson admits that there is no one that takes up for the players like he does because when they come to the tournament, he wants to see each one play well and have a good time.
But he realizes that would be impossible without having the right people backing him up.
“It starts with the help we have. Carter County Bank is second to none and Chad does a great job here with the golf course. We have some extra-ordinary help. We have not lost a golf ball on No. 1 in how many years. In the last three or four years, the final group finished in less than four hours and 45 minutes,” Matheson stated
The tournament has been one of the most prestigious tournaments around the area and with a lot of amateur tournaments deciding to cancel due to the pandemic, Matheson and the rest of the organizers are hoping to have a great field of competitors this year.
Matheson hopes to see more high school and collegiate golfers come out as that group of players has trended downward in years past. The tournament had a record 170 golfers in one year of competition.
There are some new things that are happening this year as more new prizes have been added and golfers can count on being able to finish the complete tournament as there has only been one year that rain has shortened the play.
“If we can get them in and get them back without hurting them, we try to do that,” said Chris Guy, Vice President of Carter County Bank. “Golfers know that we are going to try and get in 54 holes if at all possible.”
As far as the COVID-19, Matheson said that everything will be done as much as possible to protect the golfers from sanitizing golf carts between use to the addition of the microfiber towels.
The entry fee to play in the tournament is $115 for members of the Elizabethton Golf Course and $165 for Non-Elizabethton Golf Course members. The fee includes cart, green fees, range balls, lunch each day, practice round, gifts, and prizes.
A practice round with complimentary green fees is scheduled for June 25th.
Registration is underway at the golf course or by visiting the tournament’s Facebook page. Checks can also be sent to The William B. Greene, Jr. East Tennessee Amateur – 185 Buck VanHuss Drive, Elizabethton, TN 37643.
The tournament is a TGA State Points Event for Regular and Senior Championships.