Don DuBois brought a fractured hand the last time an event of the caliber of the Southern California Golf Assn. Amateur was held at Big Canyon Country Club.
DuBois shot 75 in the opening round of the 2002 SCGA Mid-Am at Big Canyon, but his hand swelled and he withdrew. Fast forward 10 years to the 113th SCGA Amateur, which begins Friday at Big Canyon and DuBois enters the tournament feeling well physically and excited to play the event on his home course.
"I've gotten in better shape the last three or four months; I'm carrying my bag on the weekends," said DuBois, one of five players from Big Canyon in the field of 84. "It's going to be fun seeing the course in stressful conditions."
Big Canyon superintendent Jeff Beardsley said he's growing the rough an inch taller than usual, to three inches. Expect the greens to be firm and fast.
Jordan Nasser, a 28-year-old Irvine resident is among the Big Canyon contingent that also includes current men's champion Mike Carpenter, Will Tipton and Stewart Hagestad. Nasser joined the club two years ago and gave credit to players such as Tipton, a six-time club champion at Big Canyon, and DuBois for providing a model of how to raise a family, have a job and still manage to play golf, and play quite well.
DuBois and Nasser won back-to-back California Amateur titles in 2005 and 2006. Nasser considers himself a "late bloomer" when it comes to golf, and said the state amateur was his biggest victory in golf. The esteemed winner's list includes Ken Venturi, Mark O'Mearaand John Cook.
Winning the California Amateur means he has a 10-year exemption into the SCGA Amateur, which begins with 36 holes for each player Friday. The field will be cut in half after 36 holes with 18-hole rounds each Saturday and Sunday.
Nasser said he tries to play once a week. He works in sales and marketing for a food company that produces salsas, sauces and dips. He learned the business from his father. He played at Servite and started college at Pepperdine. He stayed at the Malibu school for a year before transferring to USC before the 2004-'05 season.
He finished 28th in thePac-10championships his first year at USC. Then in the summer before his senior year, he won the California Amateur at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
"In college I was playing well, but after college my game dropped off severely," Nasser said. He makes the most of his time on the range or the course by designing a game plan.
"I have to make every shot count, because I don't have all day, every day to practice," Nasser said. "I'll work on specific things like bunker shots and take notes on my swing."
"He works hard…and has a beautiful swing," DuBois said of Nasser.
DuBois focuses his time on putting. Like Nasser, his work schedule makes getting to the course a challenge. DuBois will spend an hour after work practicing his putting.
"The guy who is putting the best is usually going to win," DuBois said. DuBois said playing on his home course has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantages, he said are "knowing both where to miss [a shot] and the nuance of the greens."
"But you still have to play golf at a high level," DuBois said.
For Nasser, winning the SCGA Amateur would be "special."
"I grew up [in Southern California]. I want to stay living here," he said. "There are so many good players…it's such a high-quality field."
Morning tee times begin at 7:30 a.m. Friday off both Nos. 1 and 10 and run until 9:27 a.m. Afternoon rounds begin at 1 p.m. and run until 2:57 p.m.
BRYCE ALDERTON is the golf writer for the Daily Pilot. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.