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DeLaveaga announces Santa Cruz City Amateur tournament is canceled | Golf

SANTA CRUZ — The 30th annual Santa Cruz City Amateur — the area’s longest running and most celebrated golf tournament — won’t take place Aug. 8-9 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials at city-owned DeLaveaga Golf Course, the tournament host, announced the decision on its website June 19.

“This year was shaping up as one of those years. There’s so much unknown,” said Tim Loustalot, the course’s head professional. “We decided it was better not to postpone or reschedule, but to cancel it entirely.

“It’s the right decision. There’s no sting at all. There is a lot here to protect: the customers, community and staff.”

Mike O’Donnell, the 2018 Santa Cruz City Amateur champion, competes in the City Am last August at DeLaveaga Golf Course. O’Donnell took second place in his title defense. This year’s City Am has been canceled due to COVID-19. (Dan Coyro — Santa Cruz Sentinel file)

Santa Cruz County’s current totals of confirmed COVID-19 cases (337 with 228 recovered) and deaths (three) are among the lowest of all the counties in the state. Tournament officials, as well as city and county health officials, hope to keep Santa Cruz among the leaders.

Meanwhile, the Northern California Golf Association continues to run events. This week, California Amateur Championship qualifying was held at several locations, and Poppy Hills Golf Course hosted the 16th NCGA Women’s Amateur Championship.

Loustalot said he isn’t concerned about what the NCGA or mini tours are doing, he’s concerned about the county’s welfare.

“I’m sure bright minds could figure out a way to run a tournament,” Loustalot said of the City Am, “no doubt about it. But you look at our tournament scoreboard and it has names from Santa Barbara, Fresno, Redding, Eureka, Yucaipa, San Diego … We draw players from different parts of the state. And that’s not really what shelter in place is.”

Eight of the top 10 finishers in the championship flight at the 2019 event were all out-of-towners, including winner Casey Leebrick of San Luis Obispo (139) and runner-up Mike O’Donnell of Chico (140). Santa Cruz’s Neil Osterman (143) took third.

Each of the past five City Am titles has been claimed by out-of-towner.

“Definitely it’s a bummer,” said Osterman, a perennial title contender in the championship flight. “I love that weekend. It’s one of my favorite weekends of the year. But all things considered, it’s not that big a deal. We’ll just wait another year.”

Said Loustalot: “This gives us a chance to exhale a little. Maybe we can recreate it and find things we can do better.”

County courses closed March 19 due to COVID-19 and reopened May 4. Since they’ve reopened, with new safety measures in place, tee times have been hard to secure thanks to high demand.

Loustalot said DeLaveaga has been averaging 200 rounds a day. He figures other county courses are doing equally well with traditional summertime options, like professional baseball and concerts, still unavailable.

“Our tee sheet will fill up, regardless if we have the City Am or not,” he said. “Business has been very good.”

Moreover, The Grille at DeLaveaga — located above the pro shop — opened Wednesday with take-out and outdoor seating options. Its operating hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Loustalot noted that he was saddened for the local schools and organizations that hold fundraiser tournaments at DeLaveaga. Money raised from those tournaments helped significantly fund their ability to operate, he said.

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