Ricky Barnes is a U.S. Amateur champion, a U.S. Open runner-up and a PGA Tour professional, but more importantly, he is a Martis Camp Club member. His home course, where he is currently building a house, will host its first USGA championship, the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur, from July 22-27.
"It’s friendly off the tee," said Barnes, who spoke at media day on June 19 via teleconference. "The [greenside] bunkers and fairway bunkers are pretty penalizing. You may see some guys having to chip out. There is plenty to room to drive the ball on the course."
At 7,675 yards, Martis Camp will be the longest course in U.S. Junior Amateur history. However, the Tom Fazio design sits approximately 6,000 feet above sea level.
"The biggest adjustment that a lot of these kids will have to make is the altitude change of iron control on their distances," said Barnes, who defeated Hunter Mahan, 2 and 1, in the 2002 U.S. Amateur championship final. "You really need to chart your yardages during a practice round. The harder and higher you hit it, the further it is going to carry. You are going to hit some clubs 10 to 16 yards further and it is going to come down with a little less spin. That’s what they need to realize."
Greg Sanfilippo, the director of the U.S. Junior Amateur championship, plans to take full advantage of 5-year-old course. By utilizing different teeing grounds on a number of the holes, we will be able to create different looks and varying yardages that will challenge the players to study each golf hole, he said.
Sanfilippo also intends to play a few holes as drivable par-4s and to adjust the par-3s to a shorter length depending on the hole location. But regardless of the length and setup, a player’s short game will be challenged. The player is going to have to be creative around the greens, Barnes said. Martis Camp has some risk-reward holes that if you do miss it on the short side you can play off some fringes, banks and bunkers to get the ball close to the pin placements.
Barnes was admittedly overwhelmed when he played in the first of his two Junior Amateurs in 1996. But he also remembers the feeling of becoming a USGA champion at Oakland Hills Country Club in suburban Deroit.
"Growing up in the U.S. and as an American, it has sentimental value when you do hold that trophy," he said. "No one will ever be able to take it away from me. And still when I drive in my car I smile about it."
For the 156 players who are preparing for this year’s U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, a champion’s perspective is a good place to start.
High Sierra Welcome
When the U.S. Junior Amateur comes to Martis Camp Club in July, it will be the first USGA national championship to be held in the region since the 1985 U.S. Senior Open. In addition to inviting scenic views within the High Sierra, General Chairman Dr. Tom Patterson and his host committee have been working for 18 months to provide all who attend with a welcoming and memorable experience.
"It’s a great honor for Martis Camp to have been awarded this championship," said Patterson, a retired emergency room physician and one of the club’s first members. "This puts us on the golf map. It makes us part of a minority of golf clubs nationwide that has ever had the privilege of hosting a national championship."
Patterson and his host committee, comprised of 11 Martis Camp members, have specific duties that range from finance to food and beverage to transportation. Patterson’s charge is slightly more difficult than it would be for most clubs in that only 20 of Martis Camp’s 491 members are in residence. Additionally, the club’s location made it a challenge to get local involvement from the business community. Therefore, the committee has had to import the 325 to 350 volunteers who will work approximately 1,200 shifts during championship week.
"They [the members] have put their arms around the championship," said Mark Johnson, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Martis Camp Club. "The organization, planning and dedication are to make sure that we can deliver a great experience for the competitors and their families."
Odds and Ends
Martis Camp Club, which opened for play in 2008, features mature pines, natural elevation changes and mountain views on the first nine, then criss-crosses Martis Creek and the valley floor on the second nine … The course hosted the 2011 Pacific Coast Amateur, which was won by 2012 Mark H. McCormack Medal recipient and 2011 USA Walker Cup member Chris Williams, who missed the cut by one stroke at this year’s U.S. Open Championship at Merion Golf Club … Martis Camp Club is set within the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the Martis Valley … The town of Truckee is located 32 miles southwest of Reno, Nev. and 100 miles northeast of Sacramento, Calif. … There are 18 fully exempt players for the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur, including 2010 champion and 2012 runner-up Jim Liu and 2012 quarterfinalist Maverick McNealy. Liu was a semifinalist at the recent British Amateur … Eleven players in the exempt category advanced to match play at last year’s championship at the Golf Club of New England … Eight fully exempt Junior Amateur players in this year’s field participated in 2013 U.S. Open sectional qualifying … The list is: Jim Liu (Purchase sectional), Zachary Bauchou (Rockville), Sam Burns (Dallas), Sean Crocker (Newport Beach), Brad Dalke (Dallas), Benjamin Griffin (Rockville), Scottie Scheffler (Dallas) and Robby Shelton (Memphis) … This will be the 10th U.S. Junior Amateur held in the state of California … Junior Amateur sectional qualifying, played over 36 holes, is being held at 61 sites and in 45 states across the country between June 10 and July 2 … Andy Zhang of the People’s Republic of China, has already qualified at Lake Wales (Fla.) Country Club … Zhang, who advanced to match play at last year’s Junior Amateur, became the youngest U.S. Open qualifier (age 14) at The Olympic Club in 2012.
Brian DePasquale is a manager of championship communications for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.