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Williamsport Country Club hoping that its annual Invitational will tee off as usual in mid-July

Every year in mid-July since 1930, the Williamsport Country Club has hosted its annual WCC Invitational tournament. For the past 90 years, it’s gone off without a problem and the club has never canceled it during those nine decades.

This year has been an unlikely one and the coronavirus pandemic has halted and stopped many things. High school and college sports and even the Little League World Series and its related regional tournaments were canceled and professional sports leagues are all on hold currently.

But despite that, the Williamsport Country Club is more than optimistic its annual tournament will go off this year from July 15-19. Come that weekend, the club is hoping it will be having golfers teeing off one after another.

“We’re hoping that we get the green light by then. If we don’t have it by then, the committee will make a decision,” Williamsport Country Club golf pro David Coates said. “We’re not sure if we’ll have less of a clubhouse or food and beverages, but we’ll stay within the government guidelines.

“If no tournaments are permitted, we’ll postpone it. If it’s a green light, we’ll have it.”

The annual tournament brings over a hundred golfers that compete throughout five flights. From 2007-09 for example, there were 96 teams that competed each year. It starts with qualifying that Wednesday, then begins seeded flights – championship, first, second, third, fourth and fifth — with a winning duo in each flight being crowned by Sunday. The lowest qualifying scores are seeded in the championship flight.

“We’re still hoping we get through it and have club house operational and showers and food and beverage,” Coates said. “And not anything (has been delayed) yet.

“That’s one of our feature events, we will postpone that one if needed. That one will not be canceled.”

While the tournament is scheduled for July 15-19, golf has the advantage of being able to be played well into September, meaning the tournament has some wiggle room if need be to be postponed.

During qualifying, it’s a better-ball format before switching to match play starting Friday.

The tournament has featured numerous talented golfers over the years. Elkland grad and 2006 PIAA champion T.J. Howe competed in 2009. Howe also golfed at Penn State and later qualified in 2016 for the U.S. Open tournament.

Standout local golfers Zach Prowant (Loyalsock grad) and Kyle Deisher (Montgomery grad) are also both two-time former champions at the event. For Prowant, it’s a tournament he loves competing in each year.

“The tournament definitely holds a special place for me and I’m sure many others that belong to WCC or come to play,” Prowant said. “It is great competition and one of the oldest match-play tournaments left in the country.

“I am optimistic the golf will be able to continue in mid-July within social distancing guidelines,” Prowant continued. “Hopefully the social aspect — dinners, etc. — will also be able to take place as normal.”

W.J. Choate and Joe Reynolds are a duo that won the tournament a combined 20 times. Choate himself has 11 titles, his last coming in 2003. Mike Schall is also a former multiple champion in the event, having won consecutive Invitational titles in 2006-07.

“We’re definitely looking forward to having it and having a great event by then,” Coates said.

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