The 115th Trans-Mississippi Amateur will be played at Brookside Golf and Country Club starting Tuesday, or as Josh Wick hopes to call it, his home-field advantage.

“When I heard the Trans-Miss was coming to Brookside, coming east of the Mississippi River for the first time in the history of the tournament, I was shocked, first off,” said Wick, who just completed his senior season on the Ohio State golf team. “Then I jumped at the opportunity to play in a top 10 world amateur event on my home course, some place I’ve been playing since I was 3 or 4 years old, it seems.”

But the Trans-Miss officials opting to pick Brookside for the event was not simply about throwing a dart at a wall map of the eastern United States. For one thing, they’re commemorating the 60th anniversary of Upper Arlington native Jack Nicklaus winning the first of his two straight Trans-Miss tourneys in 1958.

“Our goal is to take the Trans-Miss Amateur to the best golf courses in the country in an effort to attract the absolute best amateur golfers,” Trans-Miss executive director Rob Addington said. “The rankings our fields have received from industry experts in recent years validate our mission, and we hope to continue to raise the bar in terms of field strength and championship venues.”

Stewart Hagestad, of Newport Beach, California, No.18 in the world amateur rankings, is considered to be among those to beat. He was a member of the winning 2017 U.S. Walker Cup team, and was low amateur in the 2017 Masters. And Duke University senior Alex Smalley, ranked 30th in the world, is coming off a victory in the 65th Sunnehanna Amateur last month.

“Just to be able to go up against some of the best amateurs in the world at a place that I know better than — honestly, I would put my knowledge of the course up against anyone,” Wick said.

His lowest score is 64 two times, he said, just off the course record of 63 set a couple of times by pros playing there in the U.S. Open sectional qualifier through the years.

“It’s a super-tight course; it’s about as old-school as you can get in terms of narrow fairways, postage-stamp greens,” Wick said. “It’s not overly long, but it’s also a course you can get into trouble quickly.

“That’s where I think I can have an advantage, because if I am driving well I know where to put the ball and put myself in position for birdies.”

A back injury blunted the start of his senior season at OSU, but as the school year progressed, so did Wick’s game. Whether he’s got the goods and a strong enough back to make a try for the professional ranks isn’t clear, though, he said, which is why he already has taken a job with the Deloitte professional services company’s branch in Columbus.

“I hold out the dream of playing professional golf, but I have to be realistic about it, too,” Wick said. “I’m using the Trans-Miss as a barometer. How do I compare to some of the world’s top 50 amateurs? If I can’t compete with them at this stage, then maybe it’s not for me. But I’m pretty confident I’m going to surprise some people.”


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