After two-year’s absence, Farmington’s Kenridge resumes play today

By Jerry Ratcliffe

golf

(© Kevin Carden – stock.adobe.com)

After a two-year hiatus due to the global pandemic, Farmington Country Club welcomes back one of the Mid-Atlantic’s oldest and most prestigious amateur tournaments today with the 7:30 a.m. start of the 84th Kenridge Invitational.

A strong field that features numerous NCAA tournament participants and U.S. Open sectional qualifiers will battle it out over the next three days of stroke play before one of them puts his name on the championship trophy. Some of the state’s all-time greats’ names are on that hardware, including R.F. “Buddy” Loving and Keith Decker, who each hold a record six Kenridge crowns.

Vinny Giles, one of America’s greatest amateurs, put his name on the trophy in 1969 (and again in 1987), later joined by the likes of Steve Liebler, David Partridge (five titles), Steve Marino (PGA Tour) and Denny McCarthy (PGA Tour).

This will be the first Kenridge for Farmington’s new director of golf, Geoff Montross, who replaced Rob McNamara after 27 years at the club. McNamara is now with Keswick Hall.

Montross, who grew up as the son of a golf course superintendent, is looking forward to this weekend’s event after having overseen a few Quicken Loans professional events at TPC Potomac in Northern Virginia.

“Ever since I arrived at Farmington 10 months ago, I’ve constantly heard about the Kenridge,” Montross said. “In that time, I’ve learned about the traditions and heritage of this club, which are second-to-none. The Kenridge is a big piece of that. Ultimately, we’re just trying to make sure that we can do it justice.”

Spectators are welcome to attend the event, with special bleacher seating and concessions conveniently located.

Montross credited the Kenridge committee, led by Michael Millen and Richard Funk, Jr., for recruiting quality players to the field, and saluted McNamara for building such a strong network of participants and spreading word of the Kenridge for more than a quarter-century. He also pointed to his new staff for their assistance in attracting strong players.

In addition to a large college-golf-influenced field, 30 Farmington members will also compete in the tournament.

“We have a lot of talent out here for this tournament,” Montross said.

Two of the players that won’t make it back this weekend are 2019 defending champion Tyler Gulliksen, who had a family issue, and six-time champion Decker, who last won in 2010.

The course is in fabulous condition, particularly Farmington’s challenging greens, which unless dampened by potential rain are lightning fast.

“Ultimately, it’s going to be a challenge,” Montross said of the greens. “We were out there [Friday] on the greens and with the speeds of where they are, if we can dodge a little rain, the course is going to play tremendously challenging.”

Montross believes a score of 6- to 7-under-par will win the tournament, which is approximately 2-under daily on the average.

“I think it’s wide open,” Montross said. “There’s some talented golfers, a lot of collegiate players with a lot of confidence. I’m not going to put my eggs in one basket on who I would probably pick.”

Montross said that course superintendent Scott Kinnon and staff have done a great job in preparing the layout for the tournament.

“It’s peaking as we get consistent rough, fairways and green speeds,” Montross said. “What you see with a lot of these greens is when you get speeds up and you have old-time greens, you see a lot of movement with some putts. So we just have to be careful where we’re putting some of these pins.”

The rough, which was cut Thursday morning, stands at about 2 1/2 inches and won’t be touched the rest of the weekend.

 

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