Western Am back at the Point

NILES — From 1963 until 2008, the Point O’Woods Golf & Country Club hosted one of the top amateur tournaments in the nation.

In its prime, the tournament would bring 10,000 people or more to Benton Harbor to watch the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange and Andy North play amateur golf.

But when the galleries began to decrease, the Western Golf Association decided to move the tournament closer to home in Illinois.

There were also differences between the WGA and the patrons of the Point, which kept the tournament away from the area until last January when it was announced that the 116th Western Amateur would return.

Chris DiMarco won the final championship hosted at the Point in 2008. He was just down the road practicing for the 40th U.S. Senior Open at the Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame last week and participated in the media day for the tournament, which will be July 29 through Aug. 3.

DiMarco, who played in two Western Amateurs, was glad to be back at the point.

“It was pretty nostalgic, to tell you the truth,” he said. “I was 19 years old, so it was 31 years ago that I won. I can remember the holes. Obviously, everything is different, but I just remember a lot about that week. I remember first and foremost that it almost didn’t even happen.”

DiMarco was riding with University of Florida teammate Dudley Hart. They played in the Southern Amateur before heading to the Porter Cup and Hart had played poorly.

“Dudley was playing poorly and wasn’t the most gracious loser, so to speak,” DiMarco said. “He said, I’m going back home. This is before cell phones and everything else. He was my ride. I was 19. I couldn’t rent a car.”

DiMarco made a call to his parents to see what he should do. She told him to stay put and she flew from Buffalo, New York and rented a car so he could get to Benton Harbor for the tournament.

“I just remember how grueling it was,” he said. “God rest her soul. I thank her all the time about it. She actually drove me around Lake Michigan up to Milwaukee to qualify for the U.S. Am the next day. We had a lot of golf in four, five days for sure.”

The win at the Point gave DiMarco a jumping off point for his professional career.

“I think winning this gave me the belief,” he said. “I was always pretty good at golf and I kind of just always got better. I played football and golf up until ninth grade. Once I decided? To go strictly golf I just got continually better year after year. I went to college on a book scholarship. It wasn’t much. Got me into school, which was great, University of Florida. I just kind of worked my way up. All-American my second year; third team my junior year; and then first team my senior year.”

Berrien County

OutCenter announces 2024 PrideFest events

Buchanan

Tin Shop Theatre’s ‘GAME SHOW’ to provide immersive audience experience

Business

Edwardsburg Sports Complex fundraiser campaign underway

Cassopolis

Two injured in two-vehicle Calvin Township crash

Buchanan

A passion for fashion: Goddess of the Moon Leatherworks opens in Buchanan

Berrien County

Berrien County Commissioners honor retiring Sheriff Bailey

Business

New Dowagiac fire station breaks ground

Cass County

Niles man injured in single vehicle Howard Township Crash

Community News

Soup Luncheon results in record donation to Fitch Camp

Business

Honor Credit Union donates $1,000 to Dowagiac Fire Department’s Toys for Tots Drive

Business

United Federal Credit Union names Andrea Moreaux Branch Manager in Niles

Community News

Honor Credit Union donates $750 to Shop With A Hero program

Crime/Court

Area woman gets prison time for Niles Township break-in

Berrien County

Four Winds team members raise $15,000 for Berrien County Suicide Prevention

Community News

Local girl receives Certificate of Bravery from Wayne Township Fire Department

Crime/Court

Niles murder suspect gets trial date

Buchanan

Buchanan small business incubator to host grand opening Dec. 14

Community News

Niles History Center to host holiday open house Dec. 16

Buchanan

Efforts to recall Buchanan mayor continue

Buchanan

Buchanan man gets prison time for Harding’s theft

Cass County

Cass County finance department receives highest rating from national organization

Cass County

Mishawaka man gets probation for drunk driving

Cassopolis

Evart man sentenced to restitution for Newberg Township vehicle theft

Community News

PHOTO STORY: Santa visits Edwardsburg Fire Station