NATCHEZ – Tee Cotten, Bubba Kaiser and Michael Blain will represent Natchez at a week-long Amateur Mississippi Tour Major golf event to be held in Beau Pre this weekend. Beau Pré is their home course and one of four majors on the Golf Week tour, Cotten said.
Warm weather is forecast for the weekend tournament played on Saturday and Sunday. It’s a break from the cold weather they’ve had for several tournaments this year. Cotten said he played his first lap on the 34-degree circuit at Shell Landing in Gautier.
The tournament will open with a game of skins on Friday. It serves as a practice round for golfers before the tournament. Kaiser, Blain and Cotten will play the skins game at 12:50 p.m. Golfers will leave on Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m.
“Bubba is in my flight and he’s playing great golf right now, he’ll be strong competition,” Cotten said. “I have to beat him. My game is coming. All the tournaments we’ve been in have been cold and I’m not much of a cold weather golfer. I’m feeling good this weekend.
Golf Week Amatuer Mississippi is a tour for amateur golfers and there is a tour in every state in the United States. There is a championship flight and A, B, C and D flights, he said. Golfers are placed in each flight based on their handicap and they can move up and down flights based on their performance in the Tour Index.
The events have live scores, which is a plus for golfers, he said. This can aid in decision making as golfers play through a round.
A chance to rise
Kaiser and Blain performed on the tour for three years. Kaiser said he likes to try and fit his vacations around tournaments, so if he goes to Branson, Missouri, he’ll try to schedule him to play in an amateur golf week tournament.
The top 10 players from each flight for each state tour travel to the National Amateur Golf Week Tournament held in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
Currently, Kaiser finds himself 482.5 points behind Cotten in the A Flight standings heading into this weekend’s tournament at Beau Pré. This weekend will give him a chance to move up the ladder.
He said the main reason for the points gap is that Cotten has played in four tournaments, Kaiser has played in two this year. A friendship is shared between Cotten, Blain and him. He said it was fun to argue a bit about how they were doing on the tour.
Last year they didn’t hold the tournament there because of COVID, he said. In 2019, he finished second in his flight and would like to place high in his A flight. They usually share their goals for the upcoming tournament during their Friday practice round.
“I go there every time to try to win. If I can get to the top five in my division, I’m happy,” Kaiser said. “Golf is a fun sport for me. It’s more about to go out and be with people who have the same hobbies as you. I just like being around people and having a good time. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, this it’s not the case.
A late departure
Unlike Kaiser and Cotten who started playing when they were kids, Blain started playing golf when he was 50 years old. He said he had moved to Beau Pré and was looking for something to do with his friends who lived there.
Over the past ten years, he has experienced phenomenal growth in his game. One of the benefits of the Golf Week Amateur Tour is that he can compete in flight with golfers of the same caliber. He currently plays in Vol B.
“I wish my game was better. Golf is a game where it pays to start earlier in life. Anyone, no matter their skill level, can enjoy it,” Blain said. “I I’m pretty competitive and laid back. I’m not very good but I like it. It’s fun to compete against people of your own level.
While his friends are playing in a flight above him, they can still have fun on the course and around. He enjoys playing new courses and meeting new people in addition to the camaraderie with Kaiser and Cotten.
Play on the home course
This weekend, he will feel comfortable because he knows the course. It’s exciting to show people your home journey, he said.
“I would like to finish in the top five of my flight,” Blain said. “Lately, I need to keep the big scores out of a hole. I don’t need to mess up real holes and minimize my mistakes to achieve that.
Cotten started playing golf at the age of five. He was self-taught and grew up playing at Duncan Park. He played baseball in high school and college and when the dust settled, it was just a matter of playing golf or tennis.
The Amateur Tour gives golfers the opportunity to travel around the state of Mississippi and play different courses. Cotten has been playing at Beau Pré since 2011 and lives in the community. He will have the opportunity to play on his home course with Kaiser and Blain this weekend.
Kaiser started playing golf at the age of five at Belwood Country Club. In 1999, Beau Pré was built and he started playing there.
During his three years on the tour, he played many different golf courses across the state. He said that for a town the size of Natchez, they are lucky to have the golf course they have.
“The caliber of Beau Pré is probably ranked in the top five maintained courses I’ve played statewide and in Louisiana,” Kaiser said. “I’ve played a bunch. We’re lucky to have a golf course that’s as enjoyable as we are.