Milestone within reach

Budsy Howard, 83, will be playing in his 40th consecutive City Amateur when the event begins today at Charleston Municipal Golf Course. The tournament concludes Sunday.

Brad Nettles

He won’ t win, won’t break 100 and expects to finish in the last flight.

Yet, in many ways, golfers like Budsy Howard are the essence of the Charleston City Amateur golf tournament.

It’s a local tournament open to male golfers who reside in Charleston, Berkeley or Dorchester counties. Everyone from 18-year-olds to the 83-year-old Howard compete from the same tees. After the second round, the field will be divided into flights, giving everyone a chance at being a winner on some level.

Howard said playing in 40 consecutive City Amateurs has been his goal since he completed his 25th straight.

“I’m always in the last flight, but I don’t finish last because a lot of people withdraw,” Howard said. “Like I tell my friends, if I shoot 500 over the weekend I don’t care. I just want to get this 40th in. I don’t know what kind of score I’m going to shoot. I’ll just try to keep the ball in play and hockey puck it down the fairway.”

The 63rd annual tournament runs today through Sunday at Charleston Municipal Golf Course and Howard will be starting his 40th consecutive City Amateur.

“People have asked for years why we don’t have a qualifier,” said Herb Whetsell, golf course manager at Charleston Municipal Golf Course. “If we had a qualifier, then people like Budsy wouldn’t be able to play. He told me it’s the closest thing to a professional tournament that players like him will ever get to play in.”

A retired civil servant who lives on James Island, Howard has been battling health problems since Thanksgiving and has been in the hospital three times since the first of the year .

“I’ve only played about six rounds in the last 10 weeks,” Howard said. “I’ll be riding a cart. I was walking up until Christmas but I’m still trying to get my strength back.”

Howard said he normally plays about three times a week at Municipal with a group known as the Rascals. He keeps playing because he enjoys the camaraderie and “you meet a lot of gentlemen on the golf course.”