Top golfers from around the country have descended on Essex County where they’ll compete in the 2012 USGA Senior Amateur Championship starting this weekend.
The Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell welcomed 156 players from 41 states, Canada and Mexico Thursday and Friday for practice rounds. Competition gets under way Saturday, Sept. 29, with the finals scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 4.
The club got the nod to host the tournament five years ago and has been planning for three years, according to Stephen Wolsky, general manager.
Wolsky said the championships are part of the club’s 100th anniversary celebration, and are a great way to highlight the Donald J. Ross course.
“Mountain Ridge has kind of floated underneath the radar for a number of years,” Wolsky said. “This is kind of an opportunity for the United States to know who we are.”
In addition to the players, 80 USGA officials, as well as caddies, wives, spectators and members of the media are here for the event.
“It’s good for the economy,” Wolsky said. “We have a booklet touting all the local restaurants and different bars in the area that they should try.”
The players wives will be treated to the new Georgia O’Keefe exhibit at the Montclair Art Museum as well as lunch at the Highlawn Pavilion in West Orange, where they will catch a panoramic view of the New York skyline. Many guests are staying at the Crown Plaza in Fairfield where there will be a gala event on Friday night.
Wolsky said although the players are amateurs ages 55 and over, many are well-known for their high level of play.
Jay Blumenfeld, 60, of Parsippany, is the current Mountain Ridge club champion. Blumenfeld, who once shot 62 from the club’s men’s tees, is competing in his second USGA Senior Amateur. He was named New Jersey State Golf Association Player of the Year in 2006 and 2009.
This is the first national championships hosted by Mountain Ridge. The event has not been played in New Jersey since the early 1960s.
Anyone interested in watching the championships is welcome for free to the course over the next week. All 156 golfers will play Saturday and Sunday. The field will be narrowed to 64 Monday and further everyday until two finalists compete on Thursday.