Weather permitting, Madisonville Country Club is set to host the 52nd Eli Barron Invitational this Saturday.
The historic golf tournament is shaping into something a little different this year as past events such as the Friday night cocktail party and Saturday night dinner party will not take place due to COVID-19.
However, the hope is to still compete this weekend and regain some resemblance of normalcy with a sporting event that has been around for decades.
There will be a strong playing field returning with 168 competitors and the two-time defending champion and current Murray State golfer Austin Knight looking to go three-for-three.
“I’ve only played in it twice and those two years have been a blast,” Knight said. “The atmosphere makes it feel like this is the biggest tournament of the summer, and I love the gallery it brings in the final groups on Sunday.”
Knight also said he enjoys coming back and seeing all the familiar faces he’s met through the invitational.
Knight will be joined in competition by past two-time winners Andy Roberts, Chad Audas, as well as former champions Parker Scarborough and Brandon Tucker.
There will also be a plethora of local golfers such as Jackson Hill, K.O. Taylor, Travis Snead, G.R. Chandler, Patrick Hibbs, Clint Sharber, Clay Williams and Lee Riddle vying for the title. Knight’s fellow Murray State teammate Connor Coombs will also be competing.
While the anticipation for the invitational builds just days from its first scheduled tee time of 7 a.m., one obstacle still possibly stands in the way of the golf tournament — Mother Nature.
With Thursday’s rainfall and more likely on tap for today, forecasts are calling for a 71% chance of thunderstorms for Saturday.
Local golf professional Mike Thomas said they will plan to move forward as normal and will adjust accordingly if the weather creates problems.
“That’s something that we don’t know,” Thomas said. “Who knows. Who knows if any of that stuff is going to happen this weekend anywhere in the country. We’ll just deal with it the way it comes.”
Thomas said that there is a possibility that it could become a one-day event if weather creates issues, but the backup plan for the invitational is not set in stone.
Spectators are welcomed as of now and social distancing will be enforced among players and spectators.
As for now, superintendent Jon Martin and his staff have the golf course in prime shape and ready for competition this weekend.
For those who wish to watch play, scheduled tee times are set between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday.