PITTSFORD, N.Y. (WROC) — The Monroe Invitational returns next week and one of the country’s top amateur events only continues to grow.
Last year, there were 85 applications from non-exempt amateurs to play in Rochester. This year, that number is 185.
Justin Hastings is one of those players who will tee it at Monroe Golf Club. The Cayman Islands native was in town a week early to prep and played a practice round on Thursday.
“My coach at San Diego State recommended it to me. I know he’s trying to get me in these better events this summer,” Hastings said. “It’s a pleasure to be here.”
“I think a lot of these players went back to their teams and their coaches and said, ‘that was a great week. The membership was inviting and welcoming. The Rochester community as a whole was great. And of course, the golf course was great too’,” tournament director Mason Grower said.
Sixty of the world’s top one thousand amateur players will be competing in the four-round event which begins on Wednesday, July 6th.
Almost all are elite college players with handicaps a handful of strokes to the plus-side.
Organizers hope to continue expanding the reach of the Monroe Invitational to the entire Rochester community. It could not be easier to attend.
“This isn’t a major championship like we have at Oak Hill will be… thousands of fans and directing traffic and things like that. We’ll probably have 200-500 here,” Grower said. “It’s much more intimate. There are no ropes. You’re basically walking right next to the players for the most part. And it’s just park in the parking lot and walk in.”
The field includes players from 51 colleges and 15 foreign countries this year. The Invitational extended invites to players from Historically Black Colleges and Universities for the first time this summer and will host two players from Howard University.
The day before the competition begins, Monroe Golf Club will host a clinic for the First Tee Boys and Girls Club of Rochester. Several players in the field will be a part of it.
Many players who come to Rochester are well aware of the footsteps they are following at Monroe. Elites like Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson are among those who have competed in previous Invitationals.
“That kind of thing never gets old,” Hastings said. “Hearing names that have come out this tournament like that, it gives something extra special.”