The logo has changed. A major sponsor has been found. The entertainment has been upgraded. The purse has been enhanced. The charitable donations have increased.
Welcome to the new Washington Open Invitational, which is set to take place May 14-19 at Glendale Country Club.
As far as the golf, the format has been altered, too. No longer is is a 54-hole, stroke-play championship for Northwest club professionals and high-profile amateurs.
Instead, it’s a pro-am – similar to the workings at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am of the PGA Tour.
In essence, it’s two tournaments in one – the club professional can still contend for the individual crown, and his amateur-pro team has separate awards to play for.
Talked to Seattle’s Ryan Benzel, who is on the competition committee for the Northwest PGA’s chapter, about the change in format.
He said the aim is for the event to attract, or reconnect, with a few more club professionals who don’t necessarily have to feel their games are sharp in order to enter the event. This format gives them the option of playing for fun with an amateur.
The one glaring omission is the championship now excludes top amateurs from playing against the professionals.
“We gave up something,” Benzel said, “to gain a lot.”
Sure, the likes of Derek Berg, who has contended regularly at this even the past-decade, or Erik Hanson or Tom Lewis, probably aren’t happy with the change.
And it’s not likely they’ll pay nearly $900 to play for fun.
But the changes wasn’t made for change’s sake. It has a purpose. Whether it works, we’ll see.