The Jacksonville Area Golf Association (JAGA) is making final preparations for this weekend’s 2018 JAGA First Coast Amateur.
A field of 78 amateur golfers ranging in age from 16 to 54 is scheduled to compete over Martin Luther King holiday weekend (Jan. 13-15) at Hidden Hills Golf Club. The contestants represent 14 states, 26 colleges and five countries. Nine high schools are represented, including Bartram Trail, Ponte Vedra and Providence in the Jacksonville area, plus Guerin Catholic and Westfield in Indiana and Jupiter Christian, Lake Mary and Sagemont also in Florida.
The youngest competitors are a pair of 16-year-olds, Brandon McBride of Bluffton, South Carolina, and Logan Nichol of Bartram Trail. The eldest is Jacksonville area stalwart John Lobb, 54.
The championship is 54 holes of stroke play, with 18 holes of play on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. All competitors will vie for the First Coast Amateur title. New in 2018 is a mid-amateur competition for those entrants (11) who are age 25 and older.
The First Coast Amateur will be recognized this year by the World Amateur Golf Ranking. WAGR points will be awarded to the tournament’s top finishers.
Of the 78 contestants, more than 40 have handicap indexes of 0 or less, with 11 that are +3 or better. Only six indexes are above 3.0.
Brandon Mancheno of Jacksonville and now Auburn University captured the inaugural First Coast Amateur at Amelia National Golf Club last January by three shots. He did not record a single bogey in 54 holes of play.