Amateur golf tour reaches local area

from staff reports


   Amateur golfers in the Tri-Cities now have an outlet to feed their competitive fire. The Lance/Carolina Blonde Amateur Golf Tour, one of the largest amateur tours on the East Coast, is launching a Tri-Cities division beginning Sept. 14.
   The tour operates just like a professional circuit, except winners receive gift certificates from a local golf retailer and accumulate points instead of dollars.
   The Tri-Cities has started a four-tournament mini-tour for this falls, and will embark on a full 14-tourney schedule in the spring. All events are on Saturday.
   "I wanted to give regular golfers a chance to play competitive golf, get better and have a lot of fun," said Elizabethton native Todd Hampton, who will run the local tour with Rick Wagner of Elizabethton.
   "The Lance/Carolina Blonde Tour allows everyone to play against golfers of their own skill level. You play by USGA rules and improve your game a lot. You also meet a lot of different people. It's just a fun atmosphere."
   The Tri-Cities division joins 17 other Lance/Carolina Blonde tours across the Southeast. It's open to amateurs of all age, male or female, with handicaps from 0-20. Events are gross stroke play, flighted according to skill level.
   The championship flight is for 0-5 handicappers, followed by the A flight (6-10), B flight (11-15), and C flight (16-20).
   Top three finishers in each flight win gift certificates at each tournament. Meanwhile, all participants receive points based on their finish.
   At season's end, the top 10 in each points in each flight receive invitations to the 2002 Lance/Carolina Blonde Tour Championship to be played Oct. 26-27 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
   Tournament results and point standings are posted within 48 hours at the tour website: www.carolinablondetour.com.
   The Tri-Cities division kicked off this past Saturday at Warriors Path in Kingsport. Next on the agenda is a visit to The Cedars in Bristol on Sept. 28. The two local events are Oct. 5 at Elizabethton and Oct. 19 at Graysburg Hills in Greeneville.
   Tour membership, normally $70, will be reduced to $25 this year. Tour membership includes an information packet, tour hat, bag tag and tees. Membership allows you to play in other Lance/Carolina Blonde Tour events in other markets.
   "This is a unique opportunity for regular golfers to tee it up and compete on a regular basis," Hampton said. "We plan to establish a well-run tour that caters to Tri-Cities golfers and grows each year."
   For information, call Hampton at (423) 967-8301, e-mail to bigorangegolf@earthlink.net, or visit www.carolinablondetour.com.