Golf Channel Amateur Tour Event Gets Juices Flowing

A threesome in the Golf Channel Amateur Tour's San Diego Open putts out Sunday on 18th hole at Rancho Bernardo Inn.

Standing in front of the scorer’s table Sunday afternoon at Rancho Bernardo Inn, Steve Sitar reacted as if he had just won the Masters when results were announced for his flight in the San Diego Open, a two-day major on the Golf Channel Amateur Tour.

And that was for finishing third.

“Yes, I’m going to nationals,” exclaimed Sitar, a 58-year-old engineer from Las Vegas. The top three finishers in the Senior Jones Flight all earned exemptions to the Tour’s national championship event in September at PGA West in La Quinta.

It was a lot of excitement coming from someone who just shot a 17-over-par 89.

“I’m not Tom Watson,” said Sitar, whose handicap is similar to what he shot. “I just do it for the fun of it. If I don’t stink up the place, then I’m usually pretty darn happy.”

That’s the type of enthusiasm the Golf Channel Amateur Tour has generated among its players. They’re treated like professionals in many ways — for example, their names are announced when they approach the first tee — but there is an Everyman quality that encourages all comers. The Tour has 12 different flights to account for every level of golfer, so there is competition within each grouping. Performances Sunday ranged from an even-par 72 shot by San Diego’s Thomas Isaak at Maderas Golf Club to win the Championship Flight to the 62-over-par 134 one golfer recorded in the Senior Snead Flight at Rancho Bernardo Inn. The 20 he carded at the par-4 ninth hole didn’t help, but that’s another story (eight balls in the water? Really?).

Sitar said he was encouraged to join the Tour last year by his son, who is also a member. He has enjoyed the competition and the variety of courses he’s been able to visit.

“These courses are gorgeous,” said Sitar, who played Maderas on Saturday before concluding the weekend at RB Inn.

“Here I shot an 89 and I thought I could easily have shot an 84,” said Sitar, sounding strikingly similar to the PGA pros when they recount their rounds. Sitar was proud of back-to-back pars at 16 and 17, but he double bogeyed the par-5 18th. He’s not alone there. The 18th is a challenging finishing hole, stretching well over 500 yards, the last half of it uphill with water on the left, fed by a stream that fronts the hole’s tiered green. There’s plenty of opportunity to give away strokes before sinking the day’s final putt.

Ah, well. Sitar takes it in all stride. In fact, afterwards he sounded as if he was working up material for a Vegas lounge act.

“Some of the golfers take it a little more seriously than I do,” said Sitar. “I take it like Lee Trevino. I want to win, but I golf for one reason only — beverage cart girls.”

Then he added: “I don’t make my living at golf. I spend my living at golf.”

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About Kirk

About: Kirk Kenney

I first gripped a baseball at the age of six. The game has had its grip on me ever since. I enjoy watching and writing about Little League, high school and college as much or more as the major leagues. I would be consumed by golf if it wasn’t for this voice in my head whispering “pay the mortgage, pay the mortgage, pay the mortgage.” I enjoying reading a good book, but I’m more likely to watch a good movie. I was born and raised in San Diego. If not, I’m sure I would have moved here.

What would you do on your ideal San Diego Day?

I’d join three of my buddies at sunrise in the first group off the tee at Torrey Pines, then head up the coast a few miles to enjoy Mexican food for lunch at Las Olas in Cardiff. We’d drop down to Del Mar after that, grab our Boogie boards (waiting an hour after eating, of course, before going in the water) and catch a few waves, then wash off the sand and head downtown to Petco Park to catch a Padres game.

What is your favorite San Diego outdoor activity?

There’s no way to pick just one. It doesn’t get much better here than playing a round of golf — especially a twilight round where the last putt falls just as the sun sets — because you can do it year-round. My wife and I also enjoy kayaking on Mission Bay or riding bikes along Crown Point Shores.

Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguine and red wine?

Burger and a beer. Make that a root beer. Nothing beats Mug Old Fashioned poured over two scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Latest music purchases for my iPod player are...

Crazy Heart: The Weary Kind (movie soundtrack)

Lady Antebellum: Need You Now

Eagles: Long Road Out of Eden

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