Young guns aim for state golf superiority

The IGA Men's Amateur is Friday through Sunday at Ridgecrest in Nampa.

ccripe@idahostatesman.comJune 27, 2014 

The Idaho Golf Association Men's Amateur could have a future feel this weekend.

Eighteen juniors and nine college players entered the field of 129 who will compete for the title over 54 holes, Friday through Sunday at Ridgecrest in Nampa.

Only three past champions are in the field — Joe Malay (1986), Bret Rupert (1999) and Chris Reinke (2009 and 2010).

Josh Gliege, a 16-year-old who plays at Eagle High, tied for eighth two years ago and is one of the contenders to provide a breakthrough win by a junior this year. He played his practice round Thursday with three other top juniors — Hunter Ostrom of Eagle, Graysen Huff of Eagle and Sam Tidd of Meridian.

"That'd be pretty cool," Gliege said of a junior winner. "We think that we're all decent players most of the time. We think we can hang with just about anybody. It would be cool to finally go prove it."

Many of the best juniors, including Thursday's foursome and 5A state champion Connor Johnstone of Vallivue High (not in the Men's Am field), practice at SpurWing in Meridian.

Gliege (first), Huff (second) and Ostrom (fourth) battled each other Monday in the U.S. Junior Amateur qualifier at TimerStone in Caldwell. The Men's Amateur gives them a rare chance to play against some unfamiliar, more experienced foes. The last junior to win was Quinn Carbol of Pocatello in 2008.

"I look forward to playing with all these guys who were really good as juniors and still are really good players," Gliege said. "It's good to go play against them and not just my friends every week."

Ostrom tied for 11th in the Men's Amateur last year. He tries to learn from his elders.

"What I take out of it is the maturity — they tend to not screw up as much as us," said Ostrom, a 16-year-old who plays at Bishop Kelly High. "This is probably the best competition I'll get all year in Idaho."

But competition is a daily part of life for Ostrom, Gliege and the other SpurWing-based juniors. They are close friends and fierce rivals.

"We definitely don't play friendly games," Gliege said. "It definitely forces you to play your best every single time."

WOMEN'S AMATEUR

The IGA hopes to increase participation in the Women's Amateur with a major scheduling change this year. The tournament is July 11-13 at BanBury in Eagle — ending on a Sunday for the first time, Executive Director Genger Fahleson said.

The 54-hole tournament traditionally has been staged mostly on weekdays. The entry deadline this year is July 7.

"What we're trying to do is provide for the women the same playing schedule that we have for the men," Fahleson said. "The women have always played during the week. Therefore, those who work have had a more difficult time trying to play in it."

The IGA will stage the IGA Women's Classic at the same time as the state amateur. The Classic participants will play the course from a shorter set of tees.

The 2015 tournament is at Purple Sage in Caldwell. The dates have not been set, but Fahleson hopes to keep at least one weekend day.

"Courses are more readily accepting of the men's championship for a weekend because that's a traditional schedule," she said. "They're a little more hesitant to schedule a women's event over the weekend. They have revenue concerns and just stereotypes of how much women spend in golf shops. It's a stereotype that we're trying to eliminate, but it's not always easy."

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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