As it took quite some time to acclimate to Senior Golf at age 55, now at 59 its my focus and dream of winning a National Championship, something that has eluded my amateur career, and has for most of us. Winning a national championship requires perfect timing, some luck, and the ability to perform at the highest level, regardless if you a pro or amateur.
The pain of missing in the USGA Senior Amateur qualifier on July 16th stayed with me as a very bad hangover through the beginning of my trip to Scotland to attempt to play in my 6th Senior Open at St Andrews. Like anything in life, when you REALLY want something, the only thing that changes is the amount of pressure that you’ll experience while competing, and that surely was the case at Big Canyon on July 16th. I played poorly, and again my putter kept me in the game, and allowed me to come to my 17th hole even par on the round. Knowing that even par was probably going to make it into the US Senior Amateur, made those last two holes play very very tough. Some say winning many tournaments and playing in 39 USGA events helps with the pressure, I would beg to differ, that it STILL is very challenging and tough to control your body, and the speed at which you play and make decisions.
The end result of my journey is I will be playing in the US Senior Amateur, based on an exemption that I was not even aware of. My trip could not have ended any better. And this morning I woke up thinking perhaps I had dreamt about the exemption, so again I look at the email I received for the USGA welcoming into an event that was very important to compete in. I will now focus all of my attention, training and energy towards being prepared for the intense pressure that comes with a match play event. I am sure most of you are aware of the difference between stroke play and match play. In match play the pressure is heightened with each shot as your opponent is right there with you shot for shot, hole by hole. And as the round progresses so does the intensity and pressure. So how do I handle the pressure of match play? I think over the years you learn that all you can do is play each shot as strategic as possible based on the situation. Some say playing match play is just like stroke play, and I disagree. If my opponent has just hit a poor shot, I will tend to counter with a more conservative shot, and vice versa with a great shot needs to be answered by a great shot by me.
In the end, match play is very exciting, and requires tremendous focus and strategy. I am so looking forward to returning to a venue where I went to the quarter-finals in the US Mid Amateur about 20 years ago. There is something about this beautiful tree lined course that fits my eye well. I am talking about Eugene Country Club which has hosted many of major golf events.
What I need now is for British Airlines to get my golf clubs to me, as they didn’t make my flight yesterday despite being at the airport 3 hours early, and flying business class. I laugh when I think they put that priority sticker on your bags, and once they leave on the conveyor belt it means absolutely nothing. Tomorrow is the start of the NCGA Valley amateur at Winchester Country Club, I be there now if I had my clubs, but it looks like a 50/50 shot I’ll have them back in time to compete in this important 2 day event.
Pretty much a jet-lagged sleepless night, but thrilled to be home