May 19th 2017 -
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- For the second time in four years, the Trans-Miss Senior Amateur Championship will be contested in the dry air and picturesque setting of the Californian desert. This year's 18th edition of the annual event for the top senior amateurs in the country will be played May 22-25 at Eldorado Country Club.
One of the first courses built in the Coachella Valley – now a golf mecca with nearly 125 courses – Eldorado was designed by Lawrence Hughes and opened in 1957. Two years later, Eldorado hosted the Ryder Cup, won by U.S. Captain Sam Snead’s squad, 8½-3½. Tom Fazio gave the course a complete renovation in 2003. The club this year celebrates its 60th anniversary.
The residential track set in a wind-shielded cove at the foot of the majestic Santa Rosa Mountains, Eldorado was one of four Palm Springs courses to play host to the PGA Tour’s Bob Hope Desert Classic from 1970-90. Former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower used Eldorado Country Club as his “Winter White House,” during his years as the 34th Commander-in-Chief. Post-administration, Eisenhower made his permanent home just off Eldorado’s 11th hole.
A 54-hole stroke play event, the Trans-Miss Senior features a 132-player field with three divisions: Seniors (55 years & older), Super Seniors (65 & older) and Legends (70 & older). Each age group division plays from separate tees; three separate champions will be crowned. After 36 holes, the field will be cut to the low 78 scores, including ties with a proportionate representation from each division.
A host of former champions highlight this year’s field, including defending champ Tommy Brennan from Covington, La. In 2016 at Houston Country Club, Brennan scored a four-shot victory at 1-under-par 212. Other past Senior Division champions set to compete at Eldorado include Jeff Burda from Modesto, Calif, who won in 2014 at nearby La Quinta Country Club; Corliss “Corky” Nelson from Dallas, the 2013 champion; Pat Duncan Jr. from Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., who won in 2012; and four-time champion Chris Maletis from Portland, Ore., who advanced to the Super Senior Division in 2015 and won that title.
Gary Kirwan from McKinney, Texas, is set to defend his 2016 Super Senior Division title. Joining the impressive list of past champions in the 2017 field is Legends Division winner Jim Martin from Dallas.
Eldorado, a par-71 track that plays to 6,634 yards, had new greens installed in 2016. Director of Golf Terry Beardsley expects the Bermuda TiffDwarf surfaces to play a determining factor in the tournament’s outcome.
“The greens are very firm,” Beardsley said. “The golf course is fair and not overly long. It’s a very playable course. It’ll come down to putting.”
More than anything else, Beardsley says the club members call the Eldorado course, “fun.” As in, it’s a course you can play every day and be entertained. It’s fairly tight off the tees, but it’s not so demanding that it will “beat you up,” Beardsley added. In addition to deft work with the flat sticks, Beardsley said he favors the chances of players who are most precise with their irons.
“You can’t short-side yourself here,” he said. “You’re not going to get it up-and-down – unless you make a 20-footer.”