"Bombs away in York, Pa."
That was likely the reaction of many area golfers when they learned that this year's York County Amateur Championship will be held at Briarwood East Golf Course.
The popular Route 30 track is known for many things — good greens, great location, an affordable pro shop, a ton of leagues, lots of weekend play, a large driving range and an enjoyable 19th hole.
Two years ago, after a seven-figure renovation, the Thomasville course also become known for its expanded, well-manicured tee boxes and additional bunkers. There was a net increase of 12 strategically placed traps with new sand.
Over its nearly six decades of existence, however, Briarwood East has never been known as an exceptionally tight course. That is probably one of the reasons the average duffer likes to play it so much — there's not a ton of trouble on most holes. It doesn't beat you up. It usually makes for decent scores, fun rounds and happy hackers.
This weekend, however, Briarwood East will play host to the best amateur golfers that York County has to offer. The event is set for Saturday and Sunday. By Sunday afternoon we will know how Briarwood East will hold up against the area's best players.
Big guns: Almost all of the big guns on the local amateur scene are expected to compete in the two-day event, sponsored by Quality Digital Office Technology.
Fairfield teen Isaiah Logue is set to defend his title. The long-hitting lefty dominated the field a year ago at Grandview, winning by five shots after finishing with an 8-under-par 136 total.
Regents' Glen Country Club's T.J. Ostrom , who owns five Amateur titles since 1999 is also in the field, as is South Hills' Matt Henry, who won consecutive titles in 2009 and 2010.
And, of course, Mr. Briarwood, Bill Brenner, will also tee it up. Brenner owns a record-setting six York County Amateur titles, with the last coming 2004. He also owns 22 Briarwood East club championships. It's fair to say he probably knows just about every blade of grass at "Brennerwood."
Brenner is 69 now, but he's still a formidable force on the golf course. He just won his eighth York County Senior Amateur and he recently said he believes he could capture a seventh Amateur crown, under the right conditions.
"If all the stars align, I putt very well, and I get on the right course, yes maybe. Like the song goes, 'I'm not as good as I once was, but good once as I ever was.' Darn young kids are so very, very good and it's tough to beat them. The great part, though, is that we have such a wonderful group of young, great players right now (in York County)."
Briarwood just may be the right course for Brenner to win Lucky No. 7. He's not the longest player in the field, but over the years, he's proven you don't necessarily have to be a bomber to succeed there.
Among the missing this year will be Scott Knouse, who has won two Amateur titles since 2005. According to Dave Bennett, the York County Amateur Golf Association executive director, Knouse is battling some health issues, but is reportedly improving.
The course: Briarwood East, with the expanded tee boxes, measures more than 6,900 yards from the tips — that's plenty long. Bennett, however, expects the par-72 course to play between 6,800 and 6,850 yards on Saturday and 6,700 and 6,750 yards on Sunday. Bennett said the YCAGA will move some of the par-5 tees up on Sunday to make the greens more reachable in two and create some more excitement.
"I think the course will hold up fine," Bennett said. "It has some of the most resilient greens in the county, especially considering the number of rounds on them. When they renovated, the traps were placed in ideal locations. They're set up in landing areas. And it's always in excellent condition. With the weather we've had, it has fared really well."
The well-placed traps, the longer tees and the subtle greens should make Briarwood a decent challenge. It's unlikely that anyone in the 60-plus-player field will post a pair of rounds in mid-60s. But the winner may need a two-day total similar to the one Logue posted a year ago (136) to take home the championship trophy.
There may not be knee-knocking trouble lurking on every shot, but Briarwood East is no pushover either. You still have make good swings, manage your game and drop putts.
The big-hitting youngsters should have an advantage. There's little doubt about that. But don't count out the crafty veterans, such as Brenner, either.
It should make for a fascinating two days.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.