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Mid Am-Senior Am success for average joes


Divdevil
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my big ambition is to play in some top level amateur tournaments on the senior circuit when I retire or begin approaching retirement. I’m certain that most of those who play and find success at those tournaments have been competitive golfers since they were juniors. But I’m curious if there are any success stories of folks who improved later in life and had some success in mid am and senior tournaments.  By success I mean finishing top 10, invitations to top tournaments, etc. Thanks!

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What type of top level events are you talking about? Like National Mid-Am events? Or local/state ones? I'd imagine the guys winning , or coming top 10 in the US Mid-Am are probably mostly guys who were great as juniors.

But it's not super uncommon locally, maybe unless you're in Florida or something.

I know a lot of 50-55yr olds who took up golf later in life. I know a guy who was a pro hockey player in Europe and took up golf, i think in his 30's even, and has done OK in provincial AM events, and has won 1-2 club championships at some of the top clubs in our province.

I've made points in the Quebec interclub tournaments playing in the top spot, against some of the top amateurs in the province, and i started playing golf when i was 23.

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Well if Obee didn't play as a junior there you have it LOL.

I believe he is the amateur iron-throne overlord of the state of California

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^I’m 36. Just really started taking the game seriously this year. Double digit handicapper at this point. I’ve completely changed my swing with my coach so it’s been a lot of transitions but I’m seeing major improvements. I started playing this year on the Golfweek am tour and have really enjoyed it. But I’d love to improve and play in better tournaments within the next five years or so.

 

So yeah, loooong way to go and I’m at the very beginning of this process. Just curious if folks like me have been able to improve quickly.

 

Thanks for the comments!

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I played with Obee and a guy named Robert Funk a couple weeks ago. If I’m not mistaken Robert took up the game in his mid-late 20s and is one of the better senior ams in the nation.

im not sure when Obee took up golf but I know he was a stud baseball player as a kid/college so I think late-ish.

it’s doable.

Heres the deal: the scoreboard doesn’t give a shit when you started playing. You score well you finish well. So can you score well? Lots of players take a long time to learn how to score. Some pick it up pretty fast. Some are good but can’t perform in a tournament. Some grind better during tournaments. We’re all different.

the hardest part and the one that takes the longest is getting to know yourself and your game. Because we don’t play well every day and to compete, to win, you have to learn to manage yourself when you’re playing well and when you’re not. Because Competing is about putting out the lowest score you can shoot on any given day. On EVERY given day.

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My thought on the Mid-Am and Senior circuit is that they'll grow insanely more competitive in the next few decades.

Currently, those ranks are still filled with a relatively small pool of people who were golf 'lifers'.

The Mid-Am tourneys are just starting to see the emergence of the kids who are truly the Tiger boomers. These kids grew up with swing coaches, built fast swings, and golf was a 'cool' enough sport for them to pursue it throughout their upbringing.

You'll have the natural attrition of elite-level (collegiate) players who phase out due to either burnout or careers / families taking priority in keeping the game sharp but there will be plenty to still compete in those events.

 

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How long have you been playing the game? Approximately how many rounds of golf have you played in your life? If you've already played a hundred or more rounds and you're still in the double-digit handicap range, it's going to be reallllly tough, if not impossible. If you've only just started and are an 11 index after one or two years....? Maybe?

I took up the game at 20 after playing baseball in college. I'm a decent player with some nice finishes on my resume, including winning the Los Angeles City Senior Amateur last year. I'm certainly not elite, though. A few guys I play with also started late: Robert Funk (who made the cut at back-to-back U.S. Senior Opens as an amateur), started playing golf at ~26. Mark Nickeas was a professional soccer player who didn't play golf seriously until he was ~40 years old.

It's definitely doable, but you have to have some level of innate "ball-striking" and "feel" talent, or it will be impossible. Another thing I've noticed is that the overwhelming majority of players who take up the game as adults who get down to below scratch get down to low single digits (~2 - 3 handicap) very quickly -- like in a couple years, at most. If you "have it," you want to play and/or practice all the time because there's such a wonderful positive feedback loop as you improve. And if you "have it" and do it all the time, then you improve rapidly -- at least that's been my observation.

How much time are you able to devote to the game? I've always found a way to play 4 - 5 times a week from April to November. I've never been much of a practicer, but you need to devote serious time to the game if you're going to improve as many strokes as you need to in order to compete with the best mid-ams and senior ams in your city, let alone your region or the country/world.

Feel free to reach out any time. You can ask questions here on the board (that way everyone can join the discussion), or you can PM me. Up to you. :-)

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Obee,

 

Thanks so much for the thoughtful response. I too played college baseball! Good times and I miss the competition.

 

I’ve played golf since i was in middle school, but never played really often. Maybe an average of 5 times per year.And from age 20-30 I may have played 10 times total. I’m a pretty good athlete which allowed me to shoot in the 80s even without playing often, but once I committed to playing seriously (summer of last year) I realized that I developed some horrible swing flaws. I had never really seen my swing and after working with a coach I realized that I needed to completely transform my swing. (Horrible sway, casting the club, steep transition, etc etc etc) So that’s where I am now and I’ve made some great progress over 10 months. But it does feel like 3 steps forward, 2 steps back sometimes. Sometimes I think that I would have been better off picking up the game without two decades of swinging poorly.

 

I’m a good ball striker but can be erratic off of the tee and have a horrid short game. So I feel that these are things that I can improve on and drastically lower my score. I spent 10 months this year at the range averaging 3 visits per week. Now I’m planning on giving that up to play three times weekly (at least.) I feel that my next step of improvement needs to come from actually playing more with less range sessions.

Anyways, I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and input!

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Some good stuff, and while there is nothing stopping you from having success other than your own game, etc., don't forget that as you get to a national level you are looking at a lot of reinstated pros. You mentioned average joes... well, when Dillard Pruitt is allowed to compete in these events...

There's lots of good things about playing in these events, and I certainly don't want you to take this as a don't bother post. Like someone said, the scoreboard doesn't care about anything other than what you shoot. And Obee himself said in another thread is tournament play requires a brutally honest assessment of your game. And if your goal is to improve over the long term, it's a great way to achieve that goal. But have your eyes open on this. The USGA Mid-Am is referred to as the Reinstatement Invitational since over half the field is typically reinstated pros. Now some were primarily club pros who folded more shirts than competed, and I don't have a problem with that. But Gary Nicklaus, or Pruitt?

The reason I have an issue is because the mental game is huge in tournament golf. And someone who has played on a tour and has stood over an 8ft putt that is for making a cut and thus a paycheck has an edge that a guy who works at a job and plays golf on the side never will(and that is who these events are supposed to be for.)

But work on your short game a ton, and also, while you think you have a good long game, you probably don't. I had a former pro who is a family friend caddy for me in our mid-am qualifier last spring. It rained the first 13 holes pretty hard, and it was not a good day. I asked him at the end if my game as is, meant qualifying was a pipe dream. He said yes. I only had one shot type. A high draw. This is where Obee's brutally honest assessment comes in.

But frankly, tee it up. "Man in the Arena", and all that. You'll be humbled, but it's worth it to get to the other side.

 

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Before our top Mid Am up here, Garrett Rank (NHL ref), our top guy was Dave Bunker

He didn't start winning until age 37. He did start young and played some college golf in Canada.

He has won the Cdn Mid Am 3 times or so, and the Ontario Mid Am a bunch …. and even has won the Ontario Am (when he was over 40) and has won the Ontario match play 5 times?

US Mid Am I think he lost to Nathan Smith in round of 8 our 16 one year

I think he has played in the US Senior Open twice and the Canadian Open twice (PGA tour event)

He's officially a senior this year (55) and will win everything if events come back this season

Just saying it is doable if you put in the effort and have some good coaching

Now to be fair he is a legit +2 or +3 .. that is tournament +3, not fooling around at your 71/120 club with your pals

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The reality is the majority of people who contend in usga events are pro golfers. They are amateurs in name only. They play or practice year round and play daily and basically devote their lives to golf. The guys who are "working" are paid to play golf by their jobs, ie they have jobs where they are a "consultant" which entails taking out clients and playing golf. That is literally their job.

The pipe dream of the guy who works a 9 to 5, hits the range after work and plays with his buddies on the weekend, drinks a few beers and is a +6 and contends in the US mid am is just that a pipe dream. Vs all these big names you know, they are guys who are paid to golf and play in all the national cocktail events, ie a crump cup, etc. This is like the dirty secret of amateur golf that not many people talk about since it runs contrary to the "amateur" romantic golf notion. There is really nothing amateur about the people with double digit usga appearances for the most part.

In terms of your goal, focus on local events for your local and state am circuit and then work up to higher level stuff as you improve.

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Sorry Card, this is a bit misleading. "Played a bit of college golf." You have to be a damn good golfer to play college. Bunker may have spent time away from the game, but he had a base only a small percentage can start from. I'm guessing the age 37 had more to do with finally somehow being able to play in tournaments, etc., that occurred in May/June, despite being a teacher that would normally be, you know, teaching.

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there a quite a few guys playing the Mid Am level that were professional at one time or another and either couldn't make a living as a pro and regained the "amateur' status so they could at least have somewhere to play, and they either had decent junior careers or collegiate careers....the. other thing you need to look out for is Mid Amateurs are notoriously some of the best golf hustlers you will ever run into, they will sandbag you all day long until they get the stakes where they want and then they will press and miraculously finish birdie birdie and in your pocket for some serious scratch

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Not really, playing Canadian university golf as an inconsistent 3 at 21 yrs old, then staying there at that level to age 36 yrs ... to playing tour events is a huge swing

it was a swing change which led to 62’s ... from 75’s .... in one month. Then the provincial success followed, and as you know success leads to confidence and more good results at that level

do you also know Dave well? Pm me

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No, I don't know him at all. But an "inconsistent 3" is quite a bit ahead of what the OP appears to be at this point. Good for Bunker that his swing change did it, I just think you are losing perspective on what is what. A 3(especially back then) is in the top 7% of all golfers. I just found your comment to suggest he was on his own 10 yard line trying to get to the end zone. He wasn't starting anywhere near his own side of the field to reach the end zone.

No idea about the OP's ability, but that swing change would not have helped a large percentage of the playing population to the degree it helped him.

 

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Garrett Rank is crazy good. An ELITE mid-am.

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I played behind him in our provincial 2 ball a few years back. He was home with an iron on a 585 uphill into the breeze par 5. It was May and not dry

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Most of the good golfers that didn't take the game up later in life that I've seen were really great athletes. I'm talking about usually excelling at 3 sports in high school and then earning a scholarship in one of those sports in college. My friend Ted Fort didn't take up golf until later and he's not only a golf instructor, but a darn good golfer. Good athlete going into it as well.

 

The problem all golfer's face today with even the Mid-Am circuit is that many of the golfers competing in state events are usually former pros that got their amateur status and they usually have a situation where they either don't work or their work allows them to play and practice golf all day. For those that work 40+ hours a week and get 2 weeks of vacation, it's a significant disadvantage. Pair that with getting into the game later in life it becomes an even bigger hurdle to climb.

 

 

 

RH

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That's a bold strategy cotton, let's see if it pays off for him!

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