The Latin phrase sui generis, which means “in a class by itself,” accurately describes the National Senior-Junior Championship, being played this week at the Dye Preserve Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla.
The name of the tournament clearly conveys what this event is all about. One skilled senior amateur, age 50 or older, partners with a junior, defined as a mid-amateur (25 or older). It is a 54-hole tournament at scratch that begins with a four-ball round, followed by a Chapman round and then a scramble.
Famed Winged Foot Golf Club professional Tom Nieporte and Jim Hoffer started the tournament in 1991. Pennsylvanian John Birmingham took it over in the early 2000s and has run it – his way – ever since. He is a tournament committee of one, and all who have had the chance to compete in the event appreciate him for that fact.
Limited to 56 teams, the tournament is one of the more popular events on the elite amateur circuit, and is unlike anything else in the nation. Birmingham starts hearing from interested players in late August, and the event is always sold out and has a lengthy waiting list. He labors for hours over the invitation list and the pairings each year.
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Birmingham oversees the tournament in an effort to give back to a game that has been very good to him for seven decades. Introduced to the game as a 6-year-old, Birmingham grew up at Oakmont, the legendary Pittsburgh club t...
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