If your a top notch senior amateur, you most certainly want to play in these two events. Obviously the USGA Senior Amateur is a National Championship, and the Crump Cup is a prestigious amateur invitational held annually at Pine Valley.
This years Senior Amateur was held at Old Warson in St Louis MO. and provided a very stiff test for all participants. The course measures 7000 yards + and played all of it as the rains slowed down the course dramatically with a few days of heavy showers.
My qualifying rounds were quite satisfactory with a sub-par 70 followed by an even par 71 for a 141 total and a T4th position going into match play. 156 Players from all over the country and world, began the event with two rounds of stroke play to determine the low 64 for match play. In match play events everyone starts equal again, but are paired to compete head-to-head based on their qualifying score (#1 seed plays #64 seed, and so on).
But a word of caution, the guys that just squeaked into the top 64 are always dangerous, as was my worthy opponent. I was able to hold on in the end against Anthony Fioretti the #60th seed to win 2&1. Next up was Michael Dunsmore, from Poughkeepsie, N.Y I got off to quite a hot start with birdies on #1, #2, and #4 to go 3 up in the match. And after a big drive on the 5th hole, something quite strange happened to me, I began playing some of my worst golf I’ve played in a very long time. I don’t make excuses for poor play, as everyone out there has some kind of issues wether mental, physical or emotional, golf is a VERY tough sport. This match had significant meaning in many ways, one was that it would have put me in the drivers seat for Northern California Player of the year honors, which now has slipped by. But even more important is the opportunity to become a National Champion in golf, something that very few people achieve.
I’ve written here a lot about the wonders of side saddle putting and how consistent it is, but in this event, I went from rolling my rock through the first three days, to FIVE three putts over 12 holes in my second match. At this level, you are NOT going to beat these players with poor putting, and this was a tough one to take for me. I was more upset after this losing match than usual, only because I had beaten myself, and now the dream of being the 2016 USGA Senior Am champ was over.
With an early exit, it was still possible to make it East to participate in the 2016 Crump Cup at Pine Valley, but honestly I was ready to pack it in and go back west. As I was sitting in my hotel room trying to decide where to go next, I received a call from the head golf professional at Pine Valley, Mr. David Clark. He was great, and said that they had been following my progress, and would understand if I wouldn’t be able to make it to Pine Valley for this years Crump Cup. I asked David if I could think on it for another hour, to make my decision.
I am sure most of you know that Pine Valley is the #1 ranked course in the world, and for good reason. After I cooled my jets I decided to head east to participate in this years Crump Cup, and I am glad I did.
This was my first year in the Senior flight, which meant the more forward tees would perhaps be more user friendly. However the qualifying rounds produced the same type of golf I experienced in my last match at Old Warson, and after a poor 76, I started off day two with 6 three putts in the first seven holes.
Perhaps some of you are wondering how I could have such huge gyrations from day to day with my putting, and the reason I putt side saddle was to eliminate these inconsistencies. But the truth is I now putt with my eyes closed, so not to anticipate the hit. This has been going on for a few years now, and honestly it has not been very much fun. Yes I still have good putting days, which did come back to me on Saturday and today to eventually win the second flight of the Crump Cup. I had to beat the likes of past US Amateur, legendary Champion Vinny Giles, and standout amateurs John McClure and in the final match defending senior champion Glenn Smeraglio.
Now I am sitting on a United Flight back to San Francisco, thinking about this trip, my short comings as a golfer, and my putting issues. I have no clear answers about the putting, except that I’ll just keep doing what I am doing, some days will be good, and others will not. But perhaps a change in side saddle putters will help, and I am excited to try my new Bobby Schaefer side saddle (FACEON) putter this week.
I plan to post some video of this putter so you all can see what it looks like, and what I think about it. I have been collecting as many side saddle putters as possible so I can give all of you the benefit of my critique.
And for those of you that have not yet played Pine Valley, you must put it on your bucket list!!
STAY TUNED AS WE HEAD INTO THE OLYMPIC CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP NEXT WEEKEND