BURBANK — Each year the Burbank City Amateur Golf Championship proves to be one of the toughest city golf championships around, as only a few players manage to hit par or go under on the narrow, hilly DeBell Golf Club.
It proved even more difficult on the second day of the tournament Saturday when light rain made conditions soggy and even more challenging.
“We can really see each year the amount of participants we get increase every year,” said DeBell's Head Golf Professional Joaquin Herbozo. “Each year it gets better and better.”
Scott Scazzollo, DeBell's director of operations, started the Burbank City Amateur in 2003 so Burbank could have its own city tournament like Pasadena and Los Angeles.
“A lot of the locals here used to go out and play at other events and now they have their own championship they can play for, so it's big for the community,” Herbozo said. “This tournament is great just due to the fact because we get a lot of outside residents playing in it, which tends to bring them back throughout the year.”
While the Burbank City Amateur set participation records, it doesn't figure to have a new scoring record as Jon Levitt — a South Pasadena native and Covina resident — did so last year with a 14-under-par 199 and returned to defend his crown this year.
“I haven't played like I did last year for sure, but the course was playing tough it was rainy and wet today,” said Levitt, who looked to defend his title with a two-under 69 Saturday to go with a 72 from Friday. “I shot 69 today and didn't really play that well. I played better yesterday and shot 72, I just had one bad hole yesterday.”
The rainy, wet conditions spelled misfortune for nearly everyone but Greg Forrester, who lives in Scotland but was in Burbank on vacation and decided to play. The 17-year old was disappointed with his five-over 76 from Friday, but he cut six strokes off that Saturday when he carded a 68 to put himself in the mix.
“I'm used to the rain, we play in it quite a lot [in Scotland], it probably helped,” Forrester said. “I was disappointed with myself yesterday. I didn't play bad, but I just had four holes that sort of mucked me up, so today I just kept my line and played it simple and it worked out in the end.”
The challenge of DeBell is all part of its appeal, Herbozo said.
“It's a challenging golf course, this is the one tournament out of all the city amateur events around our area where usually the winning score is a little above par,” he said. “It says something about the golf course, it's a very challenging golf course. … A lot of people start playing this one because it is the challenge of trying to get around the golf course because it's a narrow golf course, it's very hilly and the greens are very tricky.”
Lee Scott played in the Burbank City Amateur for the fifth time this weekend, and he was still being reminded how tough DeBell can be, as he had two double bogeys on his last two holes to card an 85 Saturday.
Still, it couldn't dampen the day for Scott, who was playing in one of the five class handicap flights and had a 73 Friday.
“This is my home course, so I play here all the time now,” said Scott, a Toluca Lake resident. “I only play in two city championships a year, including Industry Hills. They put on a great tournament and for a municipal course that doesn't charge a lot to play, the guys around here are great. You can't really get anything better for the price.”