By Matt Hombach
For more than a half-century, the Baltimore City Amateur Championship has provided an opportunity for the metro area's best players to compete in a first-class golf atmosphere.
The event was molded after a vision similar to what Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts saw when they laid out plans for their now-legendary annual invitational tournament at Augusta National.
Invitations to the tournament are extended to club champions and runners-up at local private courses. Invitations are also extended to golfers who meet qualifications that include, but are not limited to, qualifiers for USGA events; those who advance to match play of the Maryland State Amateur Championship; those who qualify for three days of play at the Maryland State Open Championship; and top finishers at the Maryland Public Links Championship and the Maryland Stroke Play Amateur.
2007 Event Set
The 2007 version of the Baltimore City Amateur is set for Oct. 20-21 at Woodholme Country Club, just north of the Beltway. The 36-hole stroke play event is designed for 18 holes of play each day, with the field reduced to the low 24 and ties after the conclusion of play on Saturday. Starting times and a notice to competitors will be forwarded prior to the tournament.
The Baltimore City Amateur was last held at Woodholme in 1984, when Fran Rhoads etched his name on the trophy and Steve Bozel and Joe Records tied for runner-up honors.
2006 City Amatuer Champion Rick Sovero, with runner-up Bob Kaestner.
Sovero Captured Third City Am in 2006
Rolling Road member Rick Sovero nabbed his third Baltimore City Amateur title at the 52nd annual tournament in 2006. Sovero had a slight advantage with the event being held at his home course, and he played well both days, posting the tournament's only round below par with a 1-under 69 on Sunday to seal the victory.
Elkridge to Host in 2008
Tournament officials recently announced that the Elkridge Club will host the 54th annual Baltimore City Amateur in October 2008. The event was last held at Elkridge in 1998, when the winner was Larry Storck. In 1982 the winner there was Doug Ballenger.
The Elkridge Club is now closed for renovations. Conditions are expected to be outstanding for the Baltimore City Amateur next fall.
Local Legends Founded Event
By all accounts, the leading force in founding the Baltimore City Amateur Invitational Championship was Eddie Johnston. An outstanding amateur golfer in his own right, Johnston won an impressive seven club championships at the Country Club of Maryland and qualified for every USGA event he was eligible for throughout his career. Johnston took up the game at age 5, tagging along with his father, an outstanding golfer in his own right.
In addition to compiling a successful playing career, Johnston was president of both the Middle Atlantic Golf Association and the Maryland State Golf Association. He also helped set up the Mason-Dixon team competitions and the Society of Seniors golfing organization.
Johnston, an attorney by trade, brought on Jack Emich, David Halle and George Taylor to help conceive and execute the first event in 1955. Emich was a prominent fixture on the local golf scene for more than six decades, making his mark as a player, administrator and tournament official.
Emich matched Johnston's total tally of club championship titles with seven, all won at the Baltimore Country Club.
Falling in line with Johnston and Emich, tournament founding father David Halle served a term as president of both the Middle Atlantic and Maryland State Golf Associations. Also an outstanding player, Halle was a member and one-time president and two-time club champion of the Suburban Club in Pikesville.
The final tournament founder, George Taylor, also had ties to the Suburban Club and possessed a strong family background and golfing pedigree he brought to the formation of the City Amateur. Alec Taylor, his father, was a well-known local professional.
Alec Taylor was head pro at such area clubs as Suburban, Rolling Road and the Elks Club in Salisbury. Earlier in his career, the elder Taylor was a pro at multiple clubs in Scotland, including the famed Links of St. Andrews.
George Taylor was a gifted athlete and golfer who at one point played to a 2 handicap. He also enjoyed competitive soccer and ice skating, but is perhaps best known as a talented sports writer. He worked in the sports department of the Baltimore News American and the Evening Sun. His writing career spanned five decades. He covered many different sports, but focused mainly on golf, penning a weekly column that covered news from across the country and state.
Taylor served as secretary of the Middle Atlantic Golf Association for more than three decades and was widely respected throughout the state for his contributions to the game.
The four got together in the 1950s to create a tournament that would showcase the top golfers throughout Baltimore.
Recent Baltimore City Amateur Champions
2006 Rolling Road -- Rick Sovero
2005 Beechtree -- Ki Moon
2004 BCC (West Course) -- Greg Rodgers
2003 Beechtree -- Moose Brown
2002 Sparrows Point -- Will Shriver
2001 Caves Valley -- Rick Sovero
2000 Rolling Road -- Adrian Druzgala
Issue 2.37: September 13, 2007