Bellerive Country Club

Alternate Reality

Something fishy happened at the Missouri Am, raising concerns about favoritism and the judgment of the game’s gatekeepers

By Jordan Perez
June 29, 2022

An unfortunate case of favoritism dashed the dreams of a handful of Missourians hoping to play a bucket list course, offering a window into how parochial golf organizations sometimes operate when they think no one is watching.

Hosted at Bellerive Country Club, site of the 2018 PGA Championship, the recent Missouri Amateur drew a tremendous amount of interest from amateurs across the state. That necessitated six initial qualifiers and one last-chance qualifier. But many of these competitors were outraged upon finding out that Patrick Britt, a Missouri Golf Association board member who was eliminated at both the Falls Golf Club qualifying site and the last-chance qualifier, somehow teed it up in the 115th Missouri Am. When a withdrawal made a spot available on the morning of the opening round of the championship, Britt jumped the line of players who were on the alternate list.

How exactly did this happen?

A total of 10 alternate spots were distributed through the six qualifying sites. Players who missed the cut at any of these were offered a last-chance qualifier. In an email sent out by Scott Hovis, executive director of the MGA, competitors were informed (in bold): “You will be playing for 4 qualifying spots and no alternates!”

Alex McCulla claimed the first spot with a 5-under 65. The other spots were filled in a 5-for-3 playoff among Britt, Zach Shirley, Carsen Silliman, Hank Lierz and Kevin Jeske. Shirley, Silliman and Lierz emerged from the playoff. Britt and Jeske were eliminated…seemingly.

“Hovis made it very clear that only three spots were left and no alternates were available,” one competitor said.

Alternate Reality

That all changed on the morning of the first round of the Missouri Amateur, when a few competitors noticed that Britt had sneaked into the field. A concerned past competitor reached out to the MGA. “If it states something different on the website then I take the responsibility of it being wrong,” Hovis wrote in an email. “However this year with the increase in the entries into the Last Chance (86) players we had 1 alternate.” This contradicted the accounts of players present at the qualifier and the emails they received beforehand.

With alternates from other sites awaiting the spot, why was Britt awarded a place in the field? Competitors past and present expressed confusion and disappointment. “It’s completely wrong that a director of a golf association can pick and choose who he wants to get in the field based on who he’s friends with,” one player told the Fire Pit Collective. Although the effects on the championship are seemingly minor, willfully allowing the wrong player into the field compromises the integrity of the event. Retroactively awarding an exemption and calling it an alternate spot is a “tough look for everyone involved,” said one competitor.

In a statement to the Fire Pit Collective, Wayne Fredrick, president of the Missouri Golf Association, said: 

During the Missouri Amateur last week at Bellerive CC, there was an error in judgement and process by the Executive Director of the MGA. The Executive Director was notified by a qualified player of their intent to withdraw from the event. Given the short timeframe until the tee time of the player, the Executive Director filled the slot with a player who was on site and had attempted to qualify both in the regular qualifying and the “Last Chance” qualifying.

The Executive Director chose that person because they were onsite at the time. This selection should not have taken place, and on behalf of the MGA, I want to personally apologize to anyone who perceives themselves to have been wronged by the decision.

Moving forward, the alternate process will be turned over to the Players Advisory Committee to design a new process to provide complete transparency as to alternate selection and placement in the tournament, publishing a list of alternates and their positions on that list once qualifying is completed, as well as the process for choosing the order of qualifying site ranking.

Additionally, we will establish a “day of” protocol for those players choosing to be on site during the first day of the tournament.

We will be handling all other aspects of the situation internally within the MGA Board of Directors.

Three of four players who advanced from the last-chance site made it to match play in the Missouri Amateur. Britt did not.

13 thoughts on “Alternate Reality”

  1. Did you not have an alternate story that you could have used instead of this one when you realized it was a slow news day? Am filing this under “why did I get sucked into reading a non-article”

    1. So you would’ve read an alternate story to the one you didn’t find interesting? If it’s a slow news day why would an alternative article be more interesting. Or are you just being an asshole?

  2. I get what you were trying to accomplish here but big yawn from me. Guy was on-site when the WD occurred. If the other alternates were there, then I would get it. Doesn’t seem that was the case.

    Still huge fan and will read everything you put out.

    1. The alternates were not invited to be on site from what I’ve seen in the comments on Twitter by those who seem (or say they are) familiar with the situation.

      Just good fortune that this guy happened to be there and ready with his clubs, shoes, etc? Idk.

    2. There were 2 other *actual* alternates on site….all day. They did not get in. Regardless if there were no alternates on site, in what scenario would it be acceptable to allow a player that failed to qualify (twice) into an event? The player in question was contacted about being an alternate the night before the tournament began. There was plenty of time to contact other *actual* alternates as well. Cronyism at its finest.

  3. Mark F. Smolens

    I guess that I would still rather have read this instead of another account of douche-like responses to media queries at the latest LIV press conference.

  4. Your opening statement seems very misleading stating that a “handfull” of people were affected when in fact it appears there was only one w/d which means only one person was adversely affected by this admitted mistake. It appears you are trying to make a larger issue out of this than what seems to have actually occurred.

    1. There were a handful of others affected. Multiple actual alternates were never contacted with the opportunity to be on-site because the player in question was given an alternate spot despite not earning one. There were multiple alternates on site at the event (the entire day) that did not earn their way into the field because of the situation detailed above. Bad look indeed.

  5. You might also want to look at other players who played without having qualify and not meeting any of the other exempt status’

  6. Love this kind of ‘local’ Am article. There is always lots of interesting skullduggery and bullshitery with the few local miscreant’s that inhabit these events. Keep digging!

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