(Golf Channel)

Golf Channel Am Tour: A Great Option For Traveling Golfers

This article originally appeared on GolfVacationInsider.com

Hey, hope you enjoyed the PGA Tour's one week off-season by catching the Presidents Cup this past weekend.

As the 2017-2018 season gets underway this week, it reminded me to show you a cool way travel-minded golfers like you can play on your own golf "tour."

Not by turning pro, but by joining an amateur golf tour - be it at the local, regional or national level.

Really quickly, here are the big reasons to look into this:

  1. These tours visit really nice golf courses (see below), which get themselves in tip-top shape for events.
  2. Sometimes, you can access private courses and PGA Tour host sites (see below).
  3. Because these events attract big groups of golfers, courses charge event organizers reduced rates, and a lot of that value gets passed along to you.
  4. Tour operators want players to keep coming back, so there are some nice perks with tour membership and solid "swag bags" at events.
  5. Competition is more fun than fierce. Just enough to make you sweat a little without ruining your day if you have a bad round.
  6. If you play well, there are usually some nice prizes in the form of shop credit and skins payouts. You can often cover your entry fee with a nice showing.
  7. You're with like-minded players who enjoy competing. You'll get to know them and expand your network of friends in golf.
  8. In most cases, you can compete whether you're a scratch player or a bogey golfer. Many events are flighted by handicap level, so you're truly competing with peers. And experienced event organizers know how to weed out sandbaggers.

One great example of this is various state and metropolitan golf associations' one day events.

Another is the highly-regarded Golf Channel Am Tour, which consists of more than 50 local tours throughout the U.S., plus an expansive schedule of regional- and national-scale "majors," which attract fields from far and wide to some of the best golf destinations around.

(Golf Channel)

More on the Golf Channel Am Tour

Golf Channel Am Tour events enjoy such a strong following and reputation because they give participants a glimpse into the sort of treatment pro golfers receive at events. And this VIP atmosphere exists regardless of skill level, as Golf Channel Am Tour events are flighted by age and handicap.

Local tour events are typically 18 holes, with regional- and national-scale "majors" usually contested over 36 holes. Top finishers in these events earn invites to play in the National Championship, a full-field, 72-hole event held every September.

Membership has its advantages as well. In addition to the opportunity to participate in all tournaments, GC Am Tour members receive a "Welcome Pack" with a Golf Channel hat, shirt and Tour bag tag. Another cool touch: every new member receives a personalized welcome letter from David Feherty.

But to me, the coolest aspect of the tour is the opportunity to play some of the best golf course in the U.S., which includes top resorts in the "majors" and some sweet private clubs on local tours as well.

Here are some highlights of the upcoming schedule:

Notable Golf Channel Am Tour Majors:

(Walt Disney World Golf)

Disney Amateur

When: Sat.-Sun., October 21-22

Where: Disney's Magnolia and Palm Courses

Why: The Magnolia Course was a long-time PGA Tour host and the Palm is a fun layout recently renovated by Thad Layton of the Arnold Palmer firm.

Central California Amateur Championship

When: Sat.-Sun., November 11-12

Where: Rancho Murieta Country Club - North and South Courses

Why: Rancho Murieta is a private club just east of Sacramento, so this event offers a rare opportunity to see two wonderful private courses at a prime time of year.

Winter Championship

When: Sat.-Sun., December 2-3

Where: Innisbrook Resort - Copperhead and Island Courses

Why: You'll get to experience the Copperhead and its famous "Snake Pit" holes just a couple months before the pros do in the 2018 Valspar Championship.

(Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort)

Duel in the Desert 2018

When: Wed.-Fri., January 31 - February 2 

Where: Las Vegas Paiute Resort - Snow Mountain, Sun Mountain and Wolf Courses

Why: Super Bowl Weekend in Vegas is a bucket-list experience for sports fans, and this rare 54-hole event will be ideal for any avid golfer who'll be in town. In light of this weekend's tragedy in Las Vegas, we anticipate this will be an emotional and hopefully healing occasion.

Kingsmill Classic

When: Sat.-Sun., Apr. 14-15

Where: Kingsmill Resort - Plantation and River Courses

Why: Kingsmill, long a PGA Tour host and now an LPGA host, enjoys a wonderful setting on the banks of the James River outside Williamsburg.

(Purdue Golf)

Birck-Boilermaker Major

When: Sat.-Sun., 23-24

Where: Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex - Kampen and Ackerman-Allen Course

Why: Purdue University's two golf courses are the work of native Indianan and master golf architect Pete Dye. The Ackerman Allen course used to be second-fiddle, but after a major renovation it is every bit the Kampen Course's equal.

Texas Classic at Barton Creek

When: Sat.-Sun., July 28-29

Where: Omni Barton Creek Resort - Crenshaw Cliffside and Fazio Canyons Courses

Why: All four of Barton Creek's courses are critically acclaimed and popular, and the opportunity to experience two of them in competition is something few Texas-based competitive amateurs are able to resist.

Notable Local Golf Channel Am Tour Events

(Ruby Hill Golf Club)

Bay Area 2018 Season Kickoff

When: Mon., Oct. 16, 2017

Where: Ruby Hill Golf Club - Pleasanton, Calif.

Why: Ruby Hill is a lovely private club just east of the San Francisco Bay, with a Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course.

Sagamore Open

When: Mon., Oct. 16, 2017

Where: The Sagamore Golf Club - Noblesville, Ind.

Why: The Sagamore is a private club, with a Jack Nicklaus Signature-designed course that was named one of the best new course in America by Golf Digest when it debuted in 2004.

TPC River Highlands event

When: Mon., Oct. 23, 2017

Where: TPC River Highlands - Cromwell, Conn.

Why: Want to try and replicate Jordan Spieth's heroic hole-out from the front bunker on the 18th during the 2017 Travelers Championship? You just might have that opportunity at this phenomenal and popular PGA Tour venue.

Biltmore Golf Course

The Biltmore Classic

When: Sat., Oct 28, 2017

Where: Biltmore Golf Course - Coral Gables, Fla.

Why: The Biltmore's classic Donald Ross-designed course is relatively accessible, but what's most notable here is the modest entry fee of $130 to play in the event, relative to the normal $120 rack rate. That extra $10 will seem like a massive bargain compared to the value of competing, the "swag bag" and the opportunity to win credit back with a low round.

The Athens Championship

When: Mon., Oct. 30, 2017

Where: Athens Country Club - Athens, Ga.

Why: This private club has 27 holes of Donald Ross-designed golf, and it drips with Southern charm.

Oak Tree Fall Classic 2017

When: Sun., Nov. 5, 2017

Where: Oak Tree Country Club - East Course - Edmond, Okla.

Why: Pete Dye left his mark on this club north of Oklahoma City, with two acclaimed private courses next door to his vaunted Oak Tree National, which hosted the 1988 PGA Championship as well as the 2014 U.S. Senior Open.

Steelwood Championship

When: Sun., Nov. 12, 2017

Where: Steelwood Country Club - Loxley, Ala.

Why: Steelwood's Jerry Pate-designed course is rated every year among the best in Alabama. Being private, not many non-members get to experience it the way Golf Channel Am Tour participants will.

The view from Chambers Bay's fifth tee is one of the best in golf.

Chambers Bay Open

When: Sat. Nov. 18, 2017

Where: Chambers Bay - University Place, Wash.

Why: Want to walk the same fairways in competition as the likes of Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson did in the 2015 U.S. Open? Say hello to the iconic Lone Fir for me.

King's Dunes Challenge

When: Sat., Nov. 18, 2017

Where: Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club - King's Dunes Course - Sarasota, Fla.

Why: Lakewood Ranch's three courses are private, but the Golf Channel Am Tour will be visiting the King's Dunes layout, a 2004 Arnold Palmer/Vicki Martz design.

Savannah Quarters Country Club event

When: Sat., March 10, 2018

Where: Savannah Quarters Country Club - Pooler, Ga.

Why: This private, Greg Norman-designed course has a number of solid tests in store, including an island-green par three.

(Hampton Golf/Southern Hills Plantation Club)

Southern Hills Plantation Classic

When: Sat., May 5, 2018

Where: Southern Hills Plantation Club - Brooksville, Fla.

Why: Lovers of the work of Pete Dye will enjoy competing at this private course, which holds Web.com Tour Qualifying events annually as well.

These one-day events are just a taste of the opportunities that may be very close to you or along your upcoming travel routes. Events are usually scheduled a couple months in advance, so winter and spring events should be popping up on the Golf Channel Am Tour website on a rolling basis over the coming weeks. Be sure to check back often!

I'm hoping to play a few events this year, so maybe I'll see you on the road!

Have you played in any Golf Channel Am Tour events? We'd love to hear your thoughts on them below!

Oct 03, 2017

Join the conversation

Post a comment 

Larry's avatar
Larry wrote at 2017-11-03 00:24:43+00:00:

Been on this Tour going into my 12 th year. I have met golfers, Directors, GCAMTOUR staff personnel from all over the Country. Always hoping to see them at the Nationals each year. Known for my Payne Stewart outfits I have qualified 10 of the 11 yrs. The competition keeps you the game. Hope to see out there.


Zack's avatar
Zack wrote at 2017-10-10 02:14:14+00:00:

I’ve played on the tour for 4 years. The friends that I have created is something very underrated on the tour. But there is NOTHING like qualifying for nationals in September and playing 72 holes just like the pros! Great article and that Athens tourney is a GEM!

Tim Gavrich

Senior Writer

Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for Golf Advisor and the Managing Editor of the Golf Vacation Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.