NICEVILLE – The cachet of the Marvin DeBolt Daily News Junior Classic is undeniable.
Entering its 40th year, no area golf tournament has a more storied past. And no area tournament has a more prestigious track record of winners.
Bubba Watson. Boo Weekley. Heath Slocum.
The PGA trio is just a snippet of the premier names to win the showcase, which descends upon Fort Walton Beach Golf Club on July 17 and 18.
More recently the lauded tournament has featured names like Chase Seiffert, Brandon Jowers, Lauren Miller, Stephen Shephard, Patrick Poate, Kevin Choe and Madison Tenore, the latter who will return this year to defend her 2017 crown.
While the Daily News Golfer of the Year and Niceville junior will compete against a field that includes 2018 champion Taylor Moody, Niceville senior Parker Milam will be back to defend last year's boys title (1-under-par at Eglin). Standing in his way will be a field that includes Niceville teammates Dylan Hopper and Blake Rigdon, the latter a junior set to defend his Daily News Golfer of the Year campaign.
Expect the scores to be lower this year as the tournament returns to its roots at Fort Walton Beach Golf Club.
“I think it’s a great thing for the tournament, “said Emerald Coast Junior Golf Tour director Chris Poate. “One, especially for the depth because we’ll get more of the regular golfers instead of pure tournament players. This isn’t just for the top; we want to have everybody playing. We want to get all the middle schoolers and high schoolers playing.
“This course is very walkable, very scorable and that will appeal to more golfers, especially the younger kids. We definitely expect some low scores from the better players. We imagine it’ll be around par or better because that’s what we’ve historically seen at Fort Walton Beach.”
Poate and Marvin DeBolt tournament director David Trimm expect a field of around 60 golfers, who have up until this weekend to register at http://fwb.maxgalaxy.net before the pairings are set Monday.
Registration has also been reduced from $90-60 and includes green fees, lunch, refreshments and trophies to winners in all divisions. This annual tournament is named in honor of the tournament founder, Marvin DeBolt, publisher emeritus of the Northwest Florida Daily News.