More than 120 golfers from at least six states are expected for the 44th Maumelle Classic, to be played Friday through Sunday at Maumelle Country Club.
Entries for the tournament, presented by Metro Appliances & More, were taken through Tuesday.
Fifty-seven golfers had entered the open division, which will crown a new champion after Trey Schaap declared for the mid-senior division, by Monday afternoon. Among those entered are Ryan Spurlock of Maumelle and Grayson Jones of Texarkana, who tied for second last year with Austin Eoff of Benton at five-under-par 211, three strokes behind Schaap’s 67-74-67—208.
Spurlock, 19, a rising sophomore at Arkansas Tech who has worked at the MCC pro shop for several years, has had his sights set on this tournament for a long time.
“I’ve put in a lot of hours on the course and the greens and the putting green, especially in the last month,” he said. “This is my one goal. I really want to win it for everybody here in Maumelle. Everybody at this club has been supporting me for so long.”
The Maumelle Classic has for several years been considered among the state’s top tournaments. Doug Farr and Danny Green have each won three titles. Barry Hamilton, Ed Harris, Tim Jackson, Matt Mabrey, Ron Richard and Patrick Sullivan have won two each. Other former champions include David Apperson, Luke Blake, Nick Benton, Alex Carpenter, Reggie Cusick, John Daly, Jay Fullerton, Chris Jenkins, A.J. Krueger, Stan Lee, Stetson McMillan, Ken Moore, Price Murphree, Wyn Norwood, Pat Pinion, Bryon Shumate, Scott Sills, Mike Smith, Allan Thomas, Noah Tullos and Neal Westbrook.
Green holds the tournament record at 205, set in 1998.
“I’ve worked here for about four years, and every year but last year, two- or three-under will win,” Spurlock said. “I’ve never seen the course as good as it is now. It’s amazing. I think the winning score will be close to last year’s eight-under.”
Maumelle CC pro Cary Maddox agreed.
“I think it’s shaping up for a very low score, possibly a record-breaking score,” he said. “It’s not that the course is easy, but Lance Norwood was hired as greenskeeper back in December, and he has got the course in just fabulous shape.
“It will all hinge on the weather, but if it stays like it is now, the course is finally drying out, which makes it play a little longer. Lance has done a lot of good things, and the course is really playable. Potentially, we could see some good scores.”
Sixteen golfers had entered the mid-senior (40+) division by Monday. Twenty-one were entered in senior (54+) with 19 in super-senior (64+).
The field is limited to 144 participants. Play will be 54 holes of stroke play, with a cut after 36 holes. Similar to The Masters, the champion will receive a green jacket in addition to other prizes.
“It is the intention of the (t)ournament (c)ommittee for the Classic to continue to expand as a premier Amateur Tournament in the South,” Bill Jett, tournament chair, wrote in his welcome on the MCC website. “This year should prove to be yet another marvelous year. With this thought in mind, we have invited top amateurs from the states contiguous to Arkansas. Along with you, we have sent invitations to these high quality competitors to assemble the strongest field. The combination of a championship golf course and championship caliber players will lead to another great tournament this year.”
The Arkansas State Golf Association often uses Maumelle CC as a state tournament site. The course hosted satellite PGA events in 1987 and was a TPA stop in 1988.
Maddox said the leaders would tee off for the final round Sunday by about 1 p.m.