Stoney Hollow Am tees off Saturday

WHEELING – The biggest golf tournament on the Ohio Valley Golf Association’s card will be played at full capacity this weekend on Oglebay’s championship-quality Arnold Palmer and Robert Trent Jones Courses.

Stoney Hollow Tire Amateur tournament director Tom Gaudino says it’s the first time in five years the tournament, known as one of the premier amateur golf events in the country, will have a full field of 300 players.

With a few on the waiting list, it’s clear after the first 13 playings of the tourney, word has gotten out on ‘The Stoney.’

”I just because think it’s so popular and the economy has loosened up a little where people have the money to play,” Gaudino said. ”There are 70 people that played last year that aren’t playing this year, so that’s quite a turnaround.”

They’ve even got a few on a waiting list.

With just six different winners in 13 years, the Stoney draws players far and wide, as amateur golfers want to try their hands against guys like five-time winner Larry Lis Jr. and four-time winner Bryan Myers. (Howard ”Po” Peterson, Dave Frey, Carson Schambach, and Bart Mease, each with one title, are the only other Stoney winners).

”We have a group of probably 12-16 from the Columbus-Dayton (Ohio) area,” Gaudino said. ”And some of the guys from Pittsburgh are bringing more and more people down.”

A month after players marveled at the shape of Oglebay’s Crispin Course for the Kalkreuth Amateur, Gaudino, who walked the courses Thursday evening, reports the Jones and Palmer courses look great. Heavy rains have kept the grass and rough green.

”We’ve had maybe too much rain,” Gaudino said, ”but the courses are in top shape. The courses will play as they always have, but as wet as it’s been, they will play a little longer because you don’t get the roll. That helps some of the better players.”

There are four divisions in the Stoney – Seniors (age 50 and over), Super Seniors (age 62 and over), championship, and First (handicaps of 7 and over). There is a medal and best ball event for each division.

Mease is in the field to defend his championship title, as are Myers, Lis Jr, Frey, and last year’s runnerup Rob Cimarolli. Bob Clark, the 2012 Senior Division champion, and 2011 champion Jeff Sparks are both back, while four-time Senior Division Champion Mark Wheaton is also entered. Gary Schrickel, the 2012 Super Senior Division champion, and 2011 champion Lynn Martin, have also signed up to play. Dave Johnson, the defending First Flight champion, will not defend his crown, but runner-up Brad Crawford will try and take the top spot.

Notes

In addition to the rounds of golf and carts for the two days, players in the event receive free use of the driving range, a meal and drinks each day, a plaque denoting their participation in the 13th annual tournament, and a special gift bag. The tournament, put on by John Seckman of Stoney Hollow Tire, benefits junior golf in the Ohio Valley.