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New venue for Players Am working out well

The laundry list of reasons Berkeley Hall wanted to partner with the Players Amateur could go on forever, but every entry points back to a simple fact: It's great golf.

"Obviously holding a world-class golf event was something that was very attractive," said Bob Ring, Berkeley Hall's director of marketing and membership services. "Here you had an opportunity to host the highest-ranked amateur golfers in the world. It gave Berkeley Hall an opportunity to give back to golf and help these guys as they try to achieve their professional aspirations."

In other words, it was a no-brainer. And thus began the second era, so to speak, of the Players Amateur, which moved to Berkeley Hall last year after 12 years at Belfair Golf Club. The venue change was well-received among the players last year, and with the exception of a thunderstorm that popped up and wiped out the final round, everything went without a hitch.

"We had a great run at Belfair, obviously, and Berkeley Hall certainly has welcomed us with open arms," Heritage Classic Foundation tournament director Steve Wilmot said. "We didn't miss a beat, by any means."

Things didn't run so smoothly by accident. Ring said it took upwards of 200 members volunteering their time — and many volunteering their homes — to ensure all the players were housed within the community and all the tournament operations were covered. That level of interaction with the players is another item on the list of qualities that attracted Berkeley Hall to hosting the event. In a promotional video the club produced, many of the Players Amateur alumni who are now playing on the PGA Tour touted their continuing relationships with the families who hosted them when they played in the event at Belfair, and several Players alums visited Berkeley Hall during this year's RBC Heritage to put on a swing clinic for members.

Beyond the community support, Berkeley Hall has plenty to offer in terms of golf. The tournament is played on the South Course, one of the club's two Tom Fazio courses, and the practice facilities are top-notch — so good, in fact, that PGA Tour standout Kyle Stanley called Berkeley Hall home for two years while beginning his professional career.

"Berkeley Hall is a great place to hold a championship event like the Players Amateur," PGA Tour star Matt Kuchar said in the promotional video. "It's got all the length you want, plus it's got the hazards, it's got some really difficult driving holes, it's got some birdie holes, as well. It's a good mix of golf."

And the Players Amateur has proven to be a great fit for Berkeley Hall, too. Ring said the residents and members are ecstatic about the partnership, which began with an initial five-year agreement but will last much longer if the folks at Berkeley Hall have anything to say about it.

"We're hoping for many more years," Ring said.

"We're just thrilled to have this tournament here."