Someone else will have the chance to lift the trophy this year.
Beck won’t be at Idle Hour Club in Macon this week to defend his title. Instead, the Kennesaw State standout he will be playing in the Players Amateur at Berkeley Hall Golf Club in Bluffton, S.C.
The Players Am brings together some of the nation’s best collegiate players, with the winner earning an exemption into next spring’s RBC Heritage on the PGA Tour. Also set to compete there are Woodstock native Anders Albertson and his Georgia Tech teammate, Kell High School product Michael Hines.
Ollie Schniederjans, a Harrison alum and Georgia Tech star, was originally in the Players Am field before gaining a place in this weekend’s Scottish Open.
“It was a tough decision,” Beck said. “There were a lot of people that were hoping I’d defend. I wish I could (have been) in Macon for (Wednesday’s) Champions Dinner, because it was so good to meet so many of the former champions last year. The tradition is unbelievable.”
Beck won last year’s Georgia Amateur by playing 3-under par over his final nine holes, for a final-round 69. His 72-hole total of 1-over 285 on Kennesaw State’s home course was good enough for a two-shot victory over Travis Williamson.
“I was very humbled (to win),” Beck said. “I really think that tournament launched my career of what I could do in golf beyond college. And, from now on, everywhere I go, I know I held the title of being the best player in my state.”
Idle Hour will host the tournament for a record eighth time when play gets underway today. The course will play as a 6,727-yard, par-70.
Tournament officials may hope for a finish like 2008, the last time the tournament was held there.
Russell Henley and Harris English, teammates and roommates at Georgia at the time, dueled over the final round. English was looking to defend the title he had won in 2007, but Henley shot a final-round 69 to finish a tournament-record 10-under and gain a one-shot victory over his close friend.
Now, both are constants on the PGA Tour.
Though he won’t be there to see the tournament in person, Beck said there may be an obvious favorite capable of putting up numbers like Henley and English did six years ago. One of Beck’s college rivals, Mercer’s Trey Rule, recently shot a four-day total of 21-under par to top a Dogwood Invitational field that included Beck.
Former champions David Noll Jr. and Bill Brown are also in the field, along with Williamson and Georgia golfers Sepp Straka, Sam Straka and Mookie DeMoss.
Twenty other players with local ties will also compete this week, including former Harrison and current South Carolina standout Blaine Woodruff, current Harrison standout Luke Schniederjans and a pair of former Whitefield Academy teammates in Anders Olsson, who is now at Georgia Southwestern, and Ty Hampel, who is playing for Berry.
If Beck gets his way, since the trophy can’t come back with him, it could at least come back to the Kennesaw State campus. Four Owls — Kelby Burton, Buster Bruton, Wyatt Larkin and assistant coach Chad Wilson — will take their best shot at succeeding Beck as the champion.
“I really think Kelby and Chad have a chance to prove themselves and get a win,” Beck said. “I’m really excited to see how they perform. Chad is always someone you have to watch.”