Not many people would disagree that April is one of the most exciting months in golf with the Masters in Augusta getting the PGA season into full gear. Here in Ocala, it’s not what’s happening on tour that makes April the most exciting month in golf, it’s the Henry N Camp Invitational held the last weekend of the month each year.
This year is no exception as the 63rd Annual Camp kicks off this morning. The excitement builds throughout the month with practice rounds and preparations and it all comes down to three days of individual stroke play competition to determine who walks away wearing the grey blazer to forever have their name in the history books of this extraordinary event.
This will be the seventh Camp Invitational I’ve been lucky to experience at Ocala Golf Club. I can still remember the first year when people were trying to tell me about how big of a weekend it would be and what a special event it was but without experiencing it it’s hard to imagine. Those people were right and anyone who loves the game of golf who hasn’t come out to Ocala Golf Club to experience the Camp is missing out.
From the 24 qualifiers who teed it up last Saturday in hopes of winning one of the five open spots, to the 192 players in the field and the flock of spectators following the leaders on Sunday, it’s a thrill to share just a little piece of this tournament.
The Sunday spectator cart list always gets started about a week ahead and by Saturday morning has way more names then will ever get carts. Somehow everyone finds a way, either walking with the final group or meeting someone new and hopping a ride.
Egg salad sandwiches and great big hot dogs are always crowd favorites. You can even purchase hard boiled eggs before the round or at the turn as superstition has it they’ll improve your score. The scoreboard area is a popular hangout and the outside bar is only steps away with cold beverages and burgers on the grill.
In the end, it all comes down to the players, and there has been amazing golf played here over the years. Defending champion Joe Alfieri is not in the field this year so it will be exciting to see who puts it all together this weekend to have the honor of becoming the 63rd Annual Henry N. Camp Invitational Champion. I invite you to come out and share a part of this great tradition, one that hands down makes April the best month in Ocala golf.