A Tradition Unlike Any Other: The McCall Amateur

McCall Amateur Golf Tournament

There is a magical week that takes place every summer in McCall. A week where khaki shorts and polo shirts can been seen in every restaurant, every hotel, and every store. It is McCall Amateur week. Much like the hype of Masters Week for the PGA, the McCall Amateur holds a special place in the heart of our community. Since 1934, golfers have gathered in our little slice of heaven to compete. This isn’t just a golf tournament. The McCall Amateur is one of the most unique weeks of golf found in Idaho.

The tournament is comprised of three separate competitions, junior, women and men, held at the McCall Golf Club.  The McCall Golf Club is an idyllic 27-hole course set close into town. It’s an easy walk and has challenges to match the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Wildlife is abundant, conditions are always good, and the course boasts a vibrant golf culture.  The McCall Amateur draws close to 600 men, women, boys, and girls, ages 5 to 85, to the community to bask in the perfect weather while testing their mettle on the course.

The tournament is a lot of fun, but it is also very challenging. I know from personal experience. For the past three years I have had the privilege to play in the Men’s Tournament. The field of competition is wide and deep and invitations to play at the McCall Amateur are coveted. For me, it took seven years of writing letters to the tournament committee expressing my interest in participating as a competitor. Each year I would play a round of golf in the morning before the tournament teed off just to be available if a competitor dropped out. Then the magical day happened. Three years ago while playing the 8th hole of the Birch course, McCall Golf Club’s head Professional drove up to my group with a smile on his face. I was in!

While I am now on the course as a player for part of the tournament, I have also spent many years as a spectator. The McCall Amateur is a great opportunity for the whole family to get out on the course and see some truly spectacular golf. With a full week of events and competition, read on for a few tips on how to make the most out of your McCall Amateur experience.  

Junior and Women’s Amateur

Amateur week kicks off with two tournaments on Monday and Tuesday. The women take to the golf course in the mornings and play a 36-hole stroke play event. Some of the finest collegiate players from around the northwest highlight the Women’s tournament.  The afternoons turn into a fun-filled frolic when the Junior Tournament is held. Boys and girls ages 5 to 18 participate in this contest.  The youngest play three holes per day while both 18 and 36-hole competitions are offered for older juniors.

Men’s Amateur

It all starts with a big Calcutta on Wednesday evening. A Calcutta is where you can bet on a group of golfers to win their respective flights. A portion of the money raised supports local junior golf, so be generous!  Thursday is full of anticipation. Roles are reversed, families are now watching their husbands and fathers compete.

The Men’s tournament is match play. Head to head battles, no strokes given, whoever wins the most holes prevails.  A field of 352 men are divided into 16 player brackets of similar skilled golfers (32 players compete in the Championship flight).  Think March Madness on the links.

The Experience

McCall Amateur week is a family affair. Back in the day, Marie Strode, the patriarch of the Spalding family would play on Monday and Tuesday, as would her great grandson Nick Spalding. Her son Will and grandson Mark played in the Men’s Amateur on the weekend. Where else in the world can four generations of golfers compete on the same course during the same week?  Only in McCall!  Many like myself, spend the afternoons watching one sibling play, while waiting on a text message to find out how their brother or sister is fairing on the opposite side of the golf course. 

Another thing that makes the McCall Amateur unique are the people. Every group on the golf course has a gallery following the play and it can get crazy at times. Both the Aspen and Birch courses come together and share the 8th tee.  Two adjacent greens and a refreshment stand make this a central hub of activity, sometimes with over a hundred spectators and dozens of competitor’s present.  To really get a sense of how vibrant a golf community we have here in McCall, just come walk the tournament!

Viewing Tips

If you have never watched a golf tournament in person, this is the perfect tournament to start! Brush up on golf spectator etiquette and a few tips to make the most of your viewing experience.

  • On the course: Cheering on your favorite golfers and showing appreciation for a great shot are highly encouraged, just not as a golfer is making a shot. The general rule is to remain quiet and stand still (yes, stop walking if you come upon a competitor lining up their next shot).
  • Never touch a ball! This one is pretty common sense, but it can be hard to resist if you are in the gallery and a player’s golf ball comes close.
  • Dress code: While the McCall Golf Club does not have a strict dress code, we recommend dressing the part. The general rule is no jeans. Opt for shorts, slacks or a skirt for women. While July in McCall is typically warm, always bring a few layers to keep you comfortable throughout the day. A light rain jacket you can stash in a bag is also a good idea!
  • Viewing: Family and friends will typically walk with a group the entire course, but if you are there to take it all in, we recommend stationing yourself at a particular hole to see all of the competitors come through.
  • Food and Drinks: Please refrain from bringing your own food and drinks to the tournament. The McCall Golf Club has a fabulous restaurant where you can get items to go and also has a great snack shack near the 8th tee of Aspen and Birch.

Area Golf Courses

Cascade Golf Course, 208-382-4653. golfcascade.net. 9 holes.

A scenic golf course set above the banks of Lake Cascade. Multiple tees for an easy 18 hole experience. Cascade Golf Course offers an exceptional value and some of the best views around.

Jug Mountain Ranch, 208-634-5072. jugmountainranch.com/golf. 18 holes.

Every golfer, social or competitive, enjoys gorgeous panoramic views of Jughandle Mountain, the Ranch’s natural wetlands, old growth forests and the rolling hills of the East Valley.

McCall Golf Club, 208-634-7200. mccallgolfclub.com. 27 holes.

This city owned golf course has it all. Three separate 9-hole courses make it easy to get a tee time. This tree lined beauty is popular with locals and tourists alike.

MeadowCreek Golf Resort, 208-347-2555. meadowcreekgolfresort.com. 18 holes.

Set in the Meadows Valley, MeadowCreek enjoys the longest golf season in the area.  A great mix of meadows and mountains, MeadowCreek is always fun.

Whitetail Golf Club, 800-657-6564. whitetailclub.com. 18 holes.

Call in a favor or book a night at the Shore Lodge to play this beauty. A private club with all the trimmings. The Whitetail Club and all its scenic beauty never disappoints.

McCall Chamber