JACKSONVILLE – The 59th edition of the Jacksonville Amateur Championship, sponsored and conducted by the Jacksonville Area Golf Association, got underway Thursday, July 23, at Jax Beach Golf Club in Jacksonville Beach. The 54-hole championship will crown its 2020 champion on Saturday.
University of North Florida assistant golf coach Jordan Batchelor of San Jose Country Club will defend.
For the first time in the 59-year history of the Jacksonville Amateur female contestants will compete. The trio includes Gabriela Ruffels of Melbourne, Australia, Tori Mouton of St. Johns and Hannah Stevens of Ponte Vedra Beach.
Ruffels is the reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, having claimed the prestigious U.S.G.A. title last August in Mississippi. The rising University of Southern California junior also claimed last summer’s North and South title at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina. “Gabi” is the daughter of former professional tennis players Ray and AnnaMaria Ruffels. Her older brother Ryan has status on the PGA TOUR’s Korn Ferry Tour.
Mouton won the 2019 JAGA First Coast Women’s Amateur at Eagle Harbor Golf Club on Fleming Island. She will begin her junior year at The Bolles School in Jacksonville next month.
Stevens was awarded a JAGA scholarship last month and in August is bound for Flagler College in St. Augustine where she will play golf for the Saints. She is a regular at Jax Beach Golf Club.
The championship features 84 entries, 15 of which are in a category which accepts entries from outside JAGA’s Northeast Florida footprint. The 15 hail from all over the state of Florida, and Georgia and Illinois, plus Australia and Ecuador.
Local players include Richard Ames and Scott Thomas of Orange Park, Arden Brake of Green Cove Springs and Andrew Davis and Adam Eiswerth of Fleming Island.
The field was increased from 78 to 84 last week due to significant demand and a growing alternates list and host Jax Beach Golf Club’s reputation as a faster-playing golf course.
Contestants range in age from 16 to 66.
Past champions David Anthony (2006) and Duke Butler IV (2009) will join Batchelor at Jax Beach, all in pursuit of their second Amateur title.
The North Florida Junior Golf Foundation will be represented via its two exemptions extended to Andrew Davis of Fleming Island, Fla. and Cody Carroll of Jacksonville who plays for Coach Scott Schroeder and Batchelor at UNF.
Handicap index eligibility is limited to six. Fifty-one contestants are registered with handicap indexes of scratch (0) or plus-digits.
The Amateur is one of three JAGA-conducted events in which the top finishers are awarded World Amateur Golf Ranking points. The JAGA First Coast Amateur and the JAGA Match Play Championship are the others.
Jax Beach Golf Club will host its first Jacksonville Amateur in the 2000s.
The contestants will face a par-71 layout of approximately 6,700 yards.