Live sports returns to Janesville this weekend and in a big way.

The 54th annual Ray Fischer Amateur Championship is scheduled for today, Saturday and Sunday at Riverside Golf Course.

The 72-hole tournament features the state’s top amateur golfers.

Past winners include PGA Tour winners Steve Stricker and Skip Kendall, Janesville Craig graduate and course record-holder Matt Behm and five-time champion Archie Dadian.

Despite COVID-19 concerns and a few course modifications, tournament director John Jensen expects an action-packed weekend.

“It’s another great field this year,” Jensen said. “You won’t see the camaraderie that you have in the past because of social distancing policies, but you’ll still see some great golf, and I would expect another fantastic finish on Sunday.”

One change made to the tournament this year was reducing the field.

Normally the Fischer attracts more than 200 players, but this year the field was limited to 160 on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The cut after 36 holes is usually the top 70 players and ties but will be the top 60 and ties for the 2020 tournament.

“I had some golfers ask me if it was necessary to reduce the field, and my response has always been I’d rather play it safe and not take any chances,” Jensen said. “This is a disease that no one wants to get.

“We’ll also only be teeing off on No. 1 in order to keep the congestion off the course that comes with teeing off on both No. 1 and No. 10.

“The biggest thing we’re asking each and everyone—whether it’s someone playing or someone coming to watch—is to be safe. If you’re not feeling well, stay home. We’ll certainly refund the entry fee to anyone, no questions asked, that decides not to play because they’re not feeling well.”

The forecast for today’s opening round is sketchy. Thunderstorms are possible late afternoon, and Jensen said if golfers are called off the course, Riverside’s clubhouse will not be available.

“We’re going to ask the golfers to go directly to their cars and wait it out,” Jensen said. “We can’t have them congregating together like in years past. The clubhouse isn’t big enough for all of them, and with it being closed is not an option.”

Two other course modifications being used solely for the tournament will be play out of the bunkers and a pool noodle piece used in all cups on the 18 greens.

Riverside currently uses the E-Z Lyft device in all its cups, but those will be replaced by pool noodles for the Fischer. The pool noodle sits in the cup and does not allow the ball to reach the bottom. Flag sticks will also not be allowed to be taken out.

“I think the pool noodles are a better option, because sometimes you can get a bad bounce off the E-Z Lyft,” Jensen said. “The noodles have been used in a couple of tournaments already, and that seems to be the best option right now.

In the bunkers, golfers will be able to play their balls under the preferred lie rule. A golfer can take one club length of relief and place his ball no nearer to the hole while remaining in the bunker.

Jensen also said there will be no scoreboard this year, and that golfers will keep score through an online phone application. This is being done to keep players and fans from congregating in one area.

Fans are welcome but will be asked to be safe and keep their distance. Asking for the autograph of Tony Romo or anyone else will be off limits.

“You have to realize that this is the second major tournament of the summer for these golfers, where as usually by now it’s the third or fourth,” Jensen said. “Riverside does a great job of hosting, and I don’t expect anything different this year.

“This is a tournament that everyone looks forward to, including myself. We’ve even seen quite a few Illinois players entered because their state is not holding any tournaments right now. There will be a couple of minor changes, but overall it will be three days of exciting golf.”

Riverside to host WPLA Mid-Amateur & Senior 36-Hole Championship

Riverside Golf Course will be the site of the Wisconsin Public Links Association Mid-Amateur and Senior 36-Hole Championship on July 11 and 12.

The tournament is open to all male amateur golfers who have a WSGA Handicap Index and are over 25 years of age on or before the tournament date. Age breakdown for divisions: Mid-Amateur (25-49) & Senior (50 & Older).

Online registration for this tournament can be found at https://wsga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/wsga20/event/wsga2086/index.htm. Entry deadline is July 5.