By Clair Goodwin
Special to The Globe
More points will be available for the Range Line Golf Center’s Area Golfer of the Year competition this summer with the addition of one tournament and a change in the points’ format for the Joplin Horton Smith and Ky Laffoon Cup qualifying.
Being added to the schedule this season is the Crestwood Country Club Invitational in Pittsburg, Kan. It will be played June 15-16.
The format change will award 50 points per Joplin player for winning a singles or a doubles event in the Horton Smith and Ky Laffoon matches at Springfield.
The points’ series will open with the Joplin Globe City Championship on May 4 at Briarbrook Golf Club, May 5 at Schifferdecker Municipal Golf Course and May 5 at Twin Hills Golf and Country Club.
Other tournaments on the Golfer of Year calendar: Briarbrook Invitational, June 6-9; Crestwood Invitational, June 15-16; Baxter Springs, Kan., Invitational, June 22-23; Ozark Amateur, Schifferdecker, July 13-14; Twin Hills Invitational, July 26-28; Horton Smith and Ky Laffoon qualifying, Twin Hills and Briarbrook, Aug. 3-4; Horton Smith and Ky Laffoon matches, Springfield, Aug. 10-11; and the club championships at Twin Hills, Briarbrook, Schifferdecker, Carthage and Crestwood.
This is the third year of Range Line Golf Center’s participation in the Area Golfer of the Year series.
Past champions in the regular division were Evan Wood (2012) and Paul Ashe (2011). Winners in the senior division were Frank Jacobs ( 2012) and Jim Lucas (2011).
More than 60 players earned points in the first year and the number rose to more than 70 last year.
Alan Schmidt, owner of Range Line Golf Center and sponsor of the award, is pleased with the interest being generated among local and area golfers. There may be one additional spot on the schedule, Schmidt said, for another individual stroke-play event.
Winners of tournaments in the Golfer of the Year series earn 135 points. Second place gets 90 points and third receives 80. The countdown continues from 70 for fourth to 10 for 10th.
At the end of the competition, gift certificates or other prizes will be awarded to the top five in each division.
In a region once renowned for its number of individual tournaments, I have witnessed the shift over the years away from stroke-play to team events, such as best-ball, scrambles and shambles. Team play is great but golf credentials are largely built upon individual tournaments.
Competitions such as the Golfer of the Year might slow or reverse the trend. I hope so. While I enjoy team tournaments I love individual shootouts. It is what golf is all about. Or at least that was what it used to be about.
I had a reader tell me that I was wrong when I suggested in an earlier column that the PGA and USGA were considering a ban on the long putter.
I goofed. The new rule, if adopted on a permanent basis, would not ban long putters, but would prohibit using any putter if pressed against the body or arms.
I don’t like the rule. Why should long putters be singled out for special attention when the USGA and PGA appear to have abandoned any concern over how far the ball goes? The high-tech clubs and golf balls have made many of America’s greatest courses obsolete for major events and pro tournaments. But no one is calling for rolling back distance.
The quickest way to ruin a round of golf is to start thinking negatively.
I remember one time in Carthage I joined a group with an older player (probably about my age now) who promptly informed me to keep my drive on the left side of No. 10 (it was No. 1 at that time) or the ball could roll into the ditch.
Armed with that bit of information, I sliced the ball to the right into that ditch.
I also have had friends tell how quick the greens are and suggest that I gently bump the ball toward the cup. The result usually is a three putt.