Matching Up

Major changes await in 2021 for CGA Match Play and Women’s Match Play, which will be held concurrently and at same sites starting this year; Colorado Golf Club hosting final 3 rounds for each championship in ’21

By Gary Baines – 3/23/2021

The CGA Match Play and Women’s Match Play are not only the Colorado Golf Association’s oldest championships, but no other annual state golf tournament dates back nearly as far.

The CGA Match Play was first contested in 1901, meaning this year’s championship will be the 121st in the line. The CGA Women’s Match Play was first held in 1916, making this year’s version No. 106.

Both events have always been distinct entities — and will continue to be — but starting this year they’ll be intertwined to a significant degree. 

For the first time in their histories, the CGA Match Play and Women’s Match Play will be held concurrently and at the same sites. It’ll also be the first instance in which either will be conducted at two courses in a single week.

For 2021, both championships are set for June 7-12, with the early match-play sessions at CGA-owned CommonGround Golf Course in Aurora, then the action moving to Colorado Golf Club in Parker for the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. Colorado Golf Club has hosted a Senior PGA Championship, a Solheim Cup and a U.S. Mid-Amateur in the last 11 years. 

Both of the CGA title matches will be conducted on the same day (June 12), meaning two major state amateur champions will be presented their trophies at roughly the same time. Overall for that week, matches will run Monday through Wednesday at CommonGround, then Friday and Saturday at Colorado Golf Club, with Thursday being an optional practice day at the Parker course.

And, in another change, both events will utilize pod play to reduce the match-play qualifiers to the final 16 contestants (Match Play) or final eight (Women’s Match Play). Then it becomes a single-elimination affair.

“We crown two state champions at the same time on the same golf course at a really great site,” Robert Duke, the CGA’s director of rules and competitions, said last year after the plan took shape. “We’re really excited to take it to CGC as the inaugural host site (for the concurrent championships). I was there for the (2019 U.S.) Mid-Am and watched the championship match. It’s such a good match play course, so it’s going to be really fun. To be able to showcase that course will be really cool for our top players — both men and women.”

The quarterfinals, semifinals and finals of the 2021 CGA Match Play and Women’s Match Play will take place at Colorado Golf Club in June.

The CGA’s hope is that the site for the final three rounds of match play will rotate year to year among prestigious courses in the state. Meanwhile, the plan calls for CommonGround to be the pod-play host each year for the CGA Match Play and Women’s Match Play. 

Starting this year, the bracket for the CGA Women’s Match Play will be expanded from its traditional 16 players to 32. The CGA Match Play will continue to start with 64 players. In addition to pod play, the men’s round-of-16 matches will take place at CommonGround. Those who advance to the championship finals of the Match Play will compete in seven matches — one more than in past years.

All this comes a year after the CGA Senior Match Play, held at Highland Meadows Golf Course in Windsor in 2020, served as a pilot of sorts as it adopted a pod-play system very similar to the one used by the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play the PGA Tour conducts. In 2021, that PGA Tour stop is taking place this week in Austin, Texas.

Instead of the match-play portion of these CGA championships simply beginning with single-elimination rounds — as was the case in the past — qualifiers are placed in four-person pods (16 pods for the Match Play and eight for the Women’s Match Play). From there, each pod conducts a round robin, with each golfer playing three matches. The person that emerges with the best record from each pod advances to the single-elimination bracket — which includes 16 players for the Match Play (and the Senior Match Play) and eight for the Women’s Match Play.

“The whole idea was to make the championships better,” Duke said. “We’re guaranteeing everyone (who earns a spot in the match-play portion of the championships) three matches at CommonGround. There’s always the luck of the draw with match play (in facing a particularly good or hot player in a given match). This way, you’ve got three matches. Capping it off at a club like CGC, you’re hoping just to build on it. This (the Match Play) is our oldest championship.  Anything that makes this better is going to be fun. That’s always the goal for tournaments — what gets people excited to come out and compete.”

Kate Moore, the CGA’s director of competitions, will second that.

“I think it’s very exciting,” she said. “The two associations came together (when the CGA and the CWGA integrated more than three years ago) and now we’re going to crown our two best champions in the state together — one guy and one girl.”

Duke, CGA executive director Ed Mate and CGA tournament chairman Robert Polk spearheaded many of the match play changes.

In the CGA Match Play, “It was less about those guys who played five or six matches than about the 32 guys who only played one match — or no matches, depending on how they did in a stroke-play qualifier,” Duke said. “So what’s best for the most amount of people? It’s been really well received.”

In addition to the CGA Match Play, Women’s Match Play and Senior Match Play, utilizing pod play in 2021 will be the Super-Senior Match Play.

With the single site for the Women’s Match Play and the Match Play, the Women’s Senior Match Play that’s usually held on the same dates and at the same site as the Women’s Match Play will be conducted separately this year. The 2021 Women’s Senior Match Play will be held July 19-22, along with the Net Match Play, at Collindale Golf Course in Fort Collins.