A look at seven significant amateur events taking place during 2017, in this country and on the other side of the pond. Each provides a great opportunity for spectators to see golf played at the highest level.

The standard of amateur golf has risen significantly over recent years, and the margin between those at the top of the unpaid ranks and those who make a living from the game is increasingly fine. Many of those who succeed at amateur level move seamlessly into professional fields.

Amateur golf provides the avid golf spectator with a great chance to see exceptional golf being played in more relaxed circumstances. Smaller galleries and fewer spectating restrictions mean it’s possible to get up close to the competitors and maybe just see a future world beater in action. In order of their hosting in 2017, here are seven amateur events worth attending in 2017.

Latin America Amateur Championship

Paul Chaplet 2016 LAAC Champion

Paul Chaplet 2016 LAAC Champion

Founded by The R&A, The Masters and The USGA, the LAAC was inaugurated with a view to developing the game in Central and South America and the Caribbean. It was first held in 2015 in Buenos Aires and will take place in Panama in Jan 2017.
The event provides a great opportunity to see supremely talented golfers playing with a natural and exciting flair. Many U.S. College scouts have the event marked firmly in their diary as they look to find possible star players for their teams.
The winner of the tournament gains an invitation to the U.S. Masters and all the exposure for him, and his country, that goes along with that. In addition, he earns an exemption into The Amateur Championship and to any USGA amateur championship for which he is eligible (including the US Amateur.)

Venue: Club de Golf de Panama, Panama City
Dates: 12-15 January
Last year’s winner: Paul Chaplet of Costa Rica
Ticket info: Entry is free

The Lytham Trophy

Royal Lytham clubhouse

Royal Lytham clubhouse

As the first significant event on the domestic amateur golf calendar, the Lytham Trophy attracts the attention of top players and selectors alike. The tournament affords spectators a chance to see, up close and with a clear view, some early-season golf of the very highest standard. Played over one of our finest and toughest links, the quality of shot-making on display is always impressive.
In recent years, truly international fields have assembled and winners have included Dan Huizing of the Netherlands, Thriston Lawrence of South Africa and Marcus Kinhult of Sweden.

Venue: Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club
Dates: 5-7 May
Last year’s winner: Alfie Plant of Sundridge Park GC (+4)
Ticket info: Entry is free and spectators, if suitably dressed, are allowed into the clubhouse.

The Amateur Championship

Scott Gregory 2016 Amateur Champion

Scott Gregory 2016 Amateur Champion

The most prestigious individual prize in amateur golf has been won by many of the game’s most famous players. First contested way back in 1885, past champions include John Ball, Harold Hilton, Bobby Jones, Michael Bonallack, Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia.
To begin with, 288 of the world’s leading amateur players will complete two rounds of strokeplay over the grand old links of Royal St George’s and Princes. The top 64 will then go on to contest the matchplay stage of the competition at Royal St George’s. This will be the 14th time the Kent club has hosted the event.

Venue: Royal St George’s and Princes
Dates: 13-18 June
Last year’s winner: Scott Gregory from Hampshire (beat Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre by 2&1)
Ticket info: Entry is free

Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship

Julia Engstrom 2016 British Ladies' Amateur Champion

Julia Engstrom 2016 British Ladies’ Amateur Champion

This historic event was first contested in 1893 and has been won by some great and famous players over the years. Cecil Leitch was four times a winner as was Joyce Wethered. Babe Zaharias and Louise Suggs of the USA were champions in 1947 and 1948 and, more recently, winners have included Kelli Kuehne, Rebecca Hudson, Anna Nordqvist and Azahara Munoz. Last year, Julia Engstrom of Sweden won the final at Dundonald Links on the 19th hole.

Venue: Pyle & Kenfig Golf Club, Wales
Dates: 13-17 June
Last year’s winner: Julia Engstrom (Swe)
Ticket info: Entry is free

U.S. Amateur Championship

Curtis Luck 2016 U.S. Amateur Champion

Curtis Luck 2016 U.S. Amateur Champion

Second only to The Amateur Championship in the pecking order of individual amateur prizes, the U.S. Amateur will be held in 2017 at Riviera Country Club at Pacific Palisadses in California. The starting field will be 312 players, whittled down over strokeplay to 64 who go on to contest the matchplay stages. The event was first played in 1895 and the list of past champions makes for impressive reading. Walter Travis, Jerome Travers, Francis Ouimet, Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Mark O’Meara and Phil Mickelson have all been winners. Tiger Woods won three in a row from 1994 and, more recently, Brits Richie Ramsay and Matt Fitzpatrick have prevailed.

Venue: Riviera Country Club, California
Dates: 14-20 August
Last year’s winner: Curtis Luck of Australia
Ticket info: Info will be available at usga.org

The Boys Amateur Championship

Boys Amateur Championship Trophy

Boys Amateur Championship Trophy

This event provides a great chance to see some of the game’s future stars in action. As with all elite amateur events these days, the standard is extremely high and there’s an opportunity to watch some brilliant golf being played up close. The competition begins with 252 competitors playing two-rounds of strokeplay over the links at The Nairn Golf Club and Nairn Dunbar. The top 64 will then contest the matchplay stages to find an eventual winner at The Nairn. This will be the 91st running of the event. Past winners include David Howell and Matt Fitzpatrick.

Venue: The Nairn Golf Club and Nairn Dunbar
Dates: 15-20 August
Last year’s winner: Falko Hanisch of Germany (beat Alejandro Aguilera of Spain on 37th)
Ticket info: Entry is free

Walker Cup

Team GB&I - 2015 Walker Cup winners

Team GB&I – 2015 Walker Cup winners

The biennial match between amateur golfers from the USA and Great Britain and Ireland will be held at the Los Angeles Country Club in California. This will be the 46th running of the contest that first took place at the National Golf Links of America in 1922. The USA leads the series by 35 matches to 9 with one halved game, but in recent years the results have been far more even than that. Of the 14 matches since 1989, the USA has won 7 and so have GB&I. Last time out at Royal Lytham, GB&I won with something to spare by 16.5 to 9.5.

Venue: The Los Angeles Country Club, Los Angeles
Dates: 8-10 September
Last winner: GB&I
Ticket info: Tickets available through usga.org – prices start at $40