Miguel Cotto is addicted to golf. The boxing champion who has won world titles in four different weight classes, is still highly involved with his first love, but since his retirement in 2017, golf has helped fill a competitive void.

Cotto won his first 32 fights as a professional and finished with a 41-6 career record with 33 knockouts. Now age 43, he gets his fix playing on the U.S. Am Tour, which is comprised of 47 local tours, 700 tournaments nationwide and more than 9,000 members.

In the last two seasons, Cotto has played 26 events, including the tour’s national championship last fall at Sunriver in Oregon. In December, he won his first event, a two-day major at TPC Scottsdale in Arizona. Cotto carries a 16.9 handicap and plays in the Jones flight, which is for players with handicaps between 16.0 to 19.9.

Kyle Lohse was a pitcher who played for six different teams during a 15-year Major League Baseball career. He won a World Series title in 2011 with the St. Louis Cardinals, became the 14th pitcher in history to earn a victory against all 30 MLB teams in 2015 and retired a year later with the Texas Rangers. He’s played in 53 U.S. Am Tour events over the past four years in the championship division, which is for players who carry a handicap of 3.9 or less. Lohse won three events back in 2021 and has dozens of top-five finishes since.

“If you know me, you know I’m just a bit competitive,” Lohse wrote on Instagram following a victory at Mesa Country Club.

Aside from professional athletes who have turned to golf after their respective careers were over, the U.S. Am Tour has seen many younger players over the years test their skills on its circuit before eventually turning professional and attempting to qualify for various other pro tours.

Kody Conover is another young star on the tour, who has played each of the past three seasons. The Las Vegas resident played in the U.S. Adaptive Open last year at Pinehurst and finished third place in the intellectual impairment division.

Conover, 28, has improved so much over the past year that he’s advanced from the Hogan flight (8.0 to 11.9) to the Player flight (4.0 to 7.9). He won two-day majors twice in 2023, the first the Las Vegas Tour Championship at Boulder Creek and the second coming at the North & South Championship at Terra Lago North in Indio, Calif.


Kody Conover played in the U.S. Adaptive Open last summer in Pinehurst. He also won two events last year on the U.S. Am Tour.

There are six flights for each tournament, and each also has a respective senior flight, meaning there are 12 different winners at the 700 events across the United States. The breakdown: Championship (3.9 or less), Player (4.0 to 7.9), Hogan (8.0 to 11.9), Palmer (12.0 to 15.9), Jones (16.0 to 19.9) and Tiger (20 handicaps and higher). Women compete against men in the flight for their respective handicap but play from a different set of tees.

“The U.S. Am Tour is an extremely well-run tour that provides quality tournaments at outstanding venues,” said Earl Totty, who plays in the senior Player flight (4.0-7.9) in Arizona. “I enjoy the opportunity to compete for trophies and prizes and have met many competitors who have become great friends.”

Members are eligible to play anywhere they wish, they do not have to play solely on their designated home tour. During the year there are 30 tournaments that are labeled as majors, which are 36-hole events. Ten of those 30 will be at PGA Tour venues like Innisbrook Resort, PGA National, TPC Scottsdale and TPC Sawgrass. Major venues Chambers Bay, Whistling Straits and Kiawah Island are also hosting U.S. Am Tour majors this season.

Points and performance rankings are accrued for each local tour and the top players in each division will qualify for the national championship, which this year is September 8-17 at Innisbrook Resort, home pf the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship. Last year more than 900 players competed over the two weeks of competition for one of 12 titles. Trophies are awarded for each flight winner and the 25 percent of the finishers in each flight for every tournament receive gift cards. There is always an optional skins game.

“That’s the ultimate mission for the tour, to try to give golfers a platform to improve their games and test themselves on the tournament level,” said Dan Cacho, the U.S. Am Tour’s western regional director.

“We care about pace of play and the integrity of the competition. We take a lot of pride in the experience we provide our players.”

This article was originally published on golfdigest.com