Rory, Phil, Rickie, Jack?! The ultra-exclusive Seminole Pro-Member is back

March 2, 2020
Ultra-exclusive Seminole Golf Club will play host to a stacked field once again this year.

Fans of the PGA Tour are aware of the decline in field strength of the Honda Classic. Even as pros continue to move full-time to pro golf’s international capital, its stars have stayed away from the tournament down the street at PGA National. This year, just a handful of the world’s top 25 players showed for the event.

But the Monday after the event? That’s a completely different story. That’s because the annual Seminole Pro-Member kicks off with a pre-party on Sunday night after the Honda followed by tee times the next morning — and the field is eye-popping.

Recent Yale grad and aspiring pro James Nicholas posted the tee times to Instagram on Sunday, and Howard Riefs added a photo of the morning times. Check ’em out:

There’s World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, playing with his dad. Rickie Fowler. Phil Mickelson. Bryson DeChambeau. Justin Rose. Tommy Fleetwood. Ian Poulter. Matt Kuchar. That’s just getting started — and this is actually a down year from last year’s field, which featured seven of the world’s top nine male golfers.

This year, Jessica Korda leads an LPGA contingent that includes Austin Ernst and Jaye Marie Green. There are plenty of golf legends in attendance, too, beginning with Jack Nicklaus and including Ernie Els, Ian Baker-Finch, Nick Price, Beth Daniel and Davis Love III. (There are lots of “IIIs,” for that matter, eight by my count.)

There are leaders of sport, too, including Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, future Hall-of-Famer Larry Fitzgerald, PGA CEO Seth Waugh, NBC Sports bigwig Pete Bevacqua, Fox Sports producer Mark Loomis and Walker Cup captains Spider Miller and Buddy Marucci. Then there’s a whole host of big-business types, led by Seminole president Jimmy Dunne III, one of golf’s biggest power brokers, who is playing with Mickelson.

The event, which Davis Love III has referred to as the “first major of the year,” was traditionally held the Monday before Doral until that tournament was moved to Mexico City. Now it takes place in the lead-up to this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. There’s no TV coverage, of course, nor FedEx Cup points, nor any formally announced purse. But there’s plenty of intrigue nonetheless.

Things traditionally kick off at Seminole Sunday evening with a cocktail party and dinner at the club, while some of its attendees are still at PGA National. The format is a two-man best ball, with both gross and net divisions.

In 2019, Iowa Golf Hall of Famer Mike McCoy partnered with Cameron Tringale to shoot a best-ball 65 and secure a one-shot win over the teams of David Novak/Jon Rahm and Rich Drucker/Jaye Marie Green.

Seminole is an extremely exclusive club in Juno Beach, Fla., which ranked No. 34 on GOLF’s latest ranking of Top 100 Courses in the World. Donald Ross designed it in 1929 and it became a hub for golf legends, including Ben Hogan, who saw it as the perfect spot to practice for the Masters. The current Pro-Member has its roots in a big-money Calcutta that started in 1937 before the USGA cracked down on events like it in 1961. The current format has been around for 16 years.

Whoever wins will find themselves in talented company; past champions include Hogan, Nicklaus, Byron Nelson and Arnold Palmer, who played the event as recently as 2014 before ceding his spot to his grandson, Sam Saunders.

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