The 8 Best Amateur Golf Tournaments in the World

By Todd Mrowice

Tyler Strafaci and the U.S. Amateur Trophy


For the top amateurs in the game of golf, some tournaments stand above all others. These events, some of which are deeply historic, provide players the opportunity to take their next step to become professional golfers. This article showcases the 8 best amateur golf tournaments in the world and what it takes to hoist their valuable hardware.

U.S. Amateur

Tiger Woods at the 1996 U.S. Amateur
Began Play 1895
Host Organization USGA
Handicap Requirement 2.4 or below
Gender/Age No restrictions
Format Two days of stroke play, followed by five days of knockout match play
Exemptions Earned Exempt from qualifying for the next 10 U.S. Amateurs, a spot in the following year’s U.S. Open, a spot in the following year’s British Open, an invitation to the following year’s Masters

The U.S. Amateur is the oldest USGA tournament and has as rich of a history as any tournament that exists. It’s often looked at as one of the most grueling tests of golf one can tackle. Those that go on to win the Havemeyer Trophy certainly earn it. The event consists of two days of stroke play before the field is cut to 64 players. From there, players compete in match play each day, winding the field down to 32, 16, 8, and finally 4. For the final day, the top four play 36 holes of match play to decide the winner. The U.S. Amateur has been a huge stepping stone for many of the top players that have gone on to successful PGA Tour careers.

Notable past champions include:
Tiger Woods

  • Arnold Palmer
  • Jack Nicklaus
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Matthew Fitzpatrick
     

U.S. Women's Amateur

2022 U.S. Women's Amateur Champion Saki Baba
Began Play 1895
Host Organization USGA
Handicap Requirement 5.4 or less
Gender/Age Women, no age restriction
Format Two days of stroke play, followed by five days of knockout match play
Exemptions Earned A spot in the following year’s U.S. Women’s Open, exempt from qualifying for the next 10 U.S. Women’s Amateurs, exempt from qualifying for the next 10 U.S. Girls' Juniors

The U.S. Women’s Amateur is just as grueling of a test as the men’s event. The format mirrors the U.S. Amateur with a cut after two rounds of stroke play followed by knockout rounds of match play to determine a winner. The Robert Cox Cup is awarded to the winner and the event is only one month younger than the U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur. The tournament can be credited for directly impacting the start of competitive women’s golf in the U.S.

Notable past champions include:

  • Lydia Ko
  • Danielle Kang
  • Morgan Pressel
  • Juli Inkster
  • Beth Daniel
     

Western Amateur

2022 Western Amateur Champion Austin Greaser
Began Play 1899
Host Organization Western Golf Association
Handicap Requirement 3.0 or less
Gender/Age Men, no age limit
Format Two days of stroke play, the remaining 44 players (plus ties) play 36 holes of stroke play before the “Sweet Sixteen” compete in match play the final two rounds.

The Western Amateur is another tournament that has historic roots, dating all the way back to 1899 when the first Western Amateur was held at  Glen View Club in Golf, Illinois. For the past 50-plus years, the event has not left the midwestern United States. The Western Amateur is contested with 156 players which then has a cut to the top-44 plus ties. From there, a combination of stroke and match play determines a winner. The “Sweet Sixteen” round has been known to produce some of the most compelling matchups in its history.

Notable past champions include:

  • Tiger Woods
  • Ryan Moore
  • Justin Leonard
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Ben Crenshaw
  • Jack Nicklaus
  • Chick Evans
     

Northeast Amateur

2022 Northeast Amateur Champion Dylan Menante
Began Play 1962
Host Organization Elite Amateur Golf Series
Hanidcap Requirement Scratch amateurs by invitation
Gender/Age Men, no age limit
Format 72 holes of stroke play
Exemptions Earned Exemptions into the U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, and four Korn Ferry Tour events

The Northeast Amateur doesn’t get as much press as some previously mentioned amateur tournaments, but make no mistake, this event is a big win for any amateur that is fortunate enough to receive an invitation. The field of 92 players spans over amateur and collegiate wins and placement rankings. The tournament is a 72-hole stroke play format and is held at Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, Rhode Island. The event is part of the Elite Amateur Golf Series, as is the previously mentioned Western Amateur. The Northeast Amateur has been called “The Masters of Amateur Golf.”

Notable past champions include:

  • Collin Morikawa
  • Dustin Johnson
  • Anthony Kim
  • Luke Donald
  • David Duval
  • Ben Crenshaw
     

Augusta National Women's Amateur

Anna Davis at the 2022 Augusta National Women's Amateur
Began Play 2019
Host Organization Augusta National Golf Club
Handicap Requirement N/A
Gender/Age Women no age limit
Format 54 holes of stroke play
Exemptions Earned Invitation to the next five ANWA, an exemption to the following year’s U.S. Women’s Open, an exemption into the following year’s Women’s British Open

Back in 2018, Augusta National Golf Club rocked the golf world when it was announced that it would be hosting an event strictly for amateur women golfers. The inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur in 2019 was a smashing success and instantly grabbed the attention of young, female players everywhere as a pinnacle of achievement. The 54-hole event has a cut after 36 holes before stroke play determines a winner. For golf fans that have grown up watching The Masters and all of the prestige that surrounds it, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur is an added bonus with a bit of new life for the women’s game.

Notable past champions:

  • Tsubasa Kajitani
  • Jennifer Kupcho
     

The Amateur Championship

The Amateur Championship Trophy
Began Play 1885
Host Organization The R&A
handicap Requirement 2.0 or less
Gender/Age Men, no age limit
Format Two days of stroke play before the field is cut to 64 players, the winner is determined after 36 holes of match play
Exemptions Earned Exemptions into the following year’s U.S. Open, British Open, and Masters.

The Amateur Championship is also known as the British Amateur and has been in existence since 1885. It’s been known for bringing the best players from more countries than any other amateur tournament. The Amateur Championship was actually one of golf’s major championships and is contested at some of the top courses in the United Kingdom. The event has a similar stroke and match play combination format that determines the champion.

Notable past champions include:

  • Sergio Garcia
  • Graeme Storm
  • José María Olazábal
     

U.S. Mid-Amateur

Began Play 1981
Host Organization USGA
Handicap Requirement 3.4 or less
Gender/Age Men and women, age 25 or older by the opening round of the current year’s tournament
Format 36 holes of stroke play with the field then cut to 64 plus ties, 36 holes of knockout match play to determine the champion
Exemptions Earned Exempt from qualifying for the next two U.S. Amateurs, an exemption into the following year’s U.S. Open, an invitation to the following year’s Masters

The U.S. Mid-Amateur came about in 1981 out of necessity for amateur players that were still highly skilled, but not making advancements toward a professional tour. Players in the U.S. Mid-Am are required to have a handicap of 3.4 or less, a full stroke more that the requirement for the U.S. Amateur. The average age is typically a few years older than players in the U.S. Amateur. The Mid-Am has been a tournament that has allowed amateurs to continue playing close to the highest level, and in some cases, has been a catalyst for reviving players' careers. 

Notable past champions include:

  • Trip Kuehne
  • Jay Sigel
     

Asia-Pacific Amateur

Hideki Matsuyama wins low amateur at 2011 Masters
Began Play 2009
Host Organization Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation
Handicap Requirement 5.4 or less
Gender/Age Men, no age limit
Format 72 holes of stroke play
Exemptions Earned Exemptions into the following year’s Masters and British Open

Despite the Asia-Pacific Amateur being a relatively new tournament (began in 2009) it has made incredible waves in the amateur golf scene and has produced notable champions. 2021 Masters champion, Hideki Matsuyama won the event in 2010 and 2011, before going on to major championship fame. The Asia-Pacific Amateur was organized by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the Masters Tournament, and The R&A to further develop the game’s reach in Asia by creating a truly top-tier event that reaches nearly 45 amateur tours to complete its field. The event rotates to different prominent courses throughout Asia.

Notable past champions include:

  • Hideki Matsuyama
  • Guan Tianlang
     

About the Author

Todd Mrowice is a Staff Writer for GolfLink. He has been writing about golf for over 10 years including a long tenure at GOLFChicago Magazine. Todd has covered all aspects of the game including travel, products, business, and professional tours.