Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

March 21, 2014

Bellefonte to host 2016 State-Am

Clark’s Pump-N-Shop announced as title sponsor

Aaron Snyder
CNHI News Service

BELLEFONTE — For the first time since 1965, one of the most prestigious annual golf tournaments in Kentucky will take the stage at Bellefonte Country Club.

The Kentucky Amateur will hit the scene in July 2016. Make that the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Marathon Kentucky Amateur.

Tom Cooksey, President of the Kentucky Golf Association, released the details at a lunch meeting on Friday afternoon at the club.

Cooksey said there are always two key components to coordinating this event: a club and a sponsor.

While attending the Roundball Classic, a December high school basketball tournament at Boyd County Middle School in which Clark’s PNS was a sponsor, Cooksey said the “light bulb went off.”

He approached Brent Clark, President of Clark’s Pump-N-Shop, with a proposal.

Said Clark: “We never thought about it at all, and never imagined (the KGA) coming to us and asking ... For us, it’s a great advertising opportunity. It’s almost like we’re stealing it.”

Clark’s PNS Marathon is the title sponsor for the Kentucky Amateur and supporting partner of the Kentucky Open, Kentucky Senior Amateur and Kentucky PGA Junior Tour for the next three years, as specified in a press release from Golf House Kentucky.

“(Clark’s PNS and Marathon) are great Kentucky companies who value golf and what the game provides for the communities,” said Steve McMillen, Golf House Kentucky’s Executive Director, in the release.

Cooksey called it a “no-brainer” to present the opportunity to Clark. Clark echoed Cooksey’s feelings.

“We’re excited to be part of the KGA as avid golfers, and I enjoy watching the kids play,” said Clark, who has participated in two State-Ams and a Kentucky Open himself.

The next three Kentucky Amateurs will be held at Cherry Blossom Golf & Country Club (2014), Big Spring Country Club (2015) and Bellefonte. Bellefonte will hold a qualifier for this year’s State-Am on May 31.

In 1965, Paul Franke won the four-day tournament with a 278 (2-under par).

Stan Timberlake, General Manager of BCC, said that the club was “happy to fill in the other blank and provide the facility.

“To be in a position to bring in one of the state’s top events is a great opportunity for the club,” Timberlake said.

Added Head Golf Pro Jeff Bostic: “It’s a good chance for a lot of the members to give it a shot, too.”

Bellefonte Country Club has been the site of the American Junior Golf Association’s esteemed Bluegrass Junior every year since 1984. The Bluegrass Junior is a three-day tournament in June.

According to Jim Wells, Secretary/Treasurer of the KGA, there will be a large number of adult golfers who once competed in the Bluegrass Junior at Bellefonte who will want to return and take part in the 2016 State-Am.

The KGA conducts eight state championship events every year. The State-Am, which began in 1911, rarely takes place outside of central Kentucky, said Cooksey.

“As KGA president, I wanted to bring this state championship to our area,” Cooksey said. “It’s 156 players, along with their parents, girlfriends and so forth ... It’s really a shot in the arm for the area.”

Cooksey said Inside Kentucky Golf TV and several media outlets across the state will filter into the area for the week.

Wells showered praise onto Bellefonte Country Club for its widely recognized hosting prowess as well as Clark’s PNS.

Past State-Am winners include J.B. Holmes and Steve Flesch, former University of Kentucky stars who became successful PGA Tour professionals. Tyler McDaniel, a Clay County High School senior who will play at UK next year, won the 2013 tournament at Bowling Green Country Club.

Those interested in trying to qualify can visit kygolf.org. Prospective participants must be a member of a private golf club in Kentucky.

AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664.