2016 U.S. Senior Amateur: Sunday

Michael Root on the 11th Hole, Old Warson CC (Photo courtesy of the USGA)

I coulda been a contender.

Well, maybe not.

Here at Old Warson Country Club, the 36-hole medal play portion of the U.S. Senior Amateur ended Sunday. Match play competition begins Monday, featuring the low 64 of 156 players.

Eventually, after six rounds of intense match play, a champion will be crowned on Thursday.

These are my peers — all of them 55 and older. I coulda been a contender. No, I couldn’t, not in this event.

A handicap of 7.4 is required to enter. I didn’t make it. Maybe next year.

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Vinny Giles, 2009 US Senior Amateur champion (Photo courtesy of the USGA)

All U.S. Golf Association national championships have a maximum handicap. It’s right there on every entry form. The U.S. Open may sound like it is open to anyone and everyone, but this is not the case.

Golfers are allowed a maximum handicap of 1.4 for the U.S. Open. In the U.S. Women’s Open, the limit is 3.4.

Many of us hallucinate about playing for a national title. We all coulda been contenders, but we missed. No matter, we keep dreaming.

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Frank Ford (Photo courtesy of the USGA)

I caddied once in a national championship. In the 2001 U.S. Senior Amateur, my horse, Titleist sales representative Dick Iverson, qualified for match play and won two matches.

Then he lost, although it didn’t seem like losing. He was having the time of his life.

At Old Warson, It has occured to me once again that golf is truly the game of a lifetime. These guys are amazingly talented. It can be astounding to watch them armwrestle with a course approaching 7,000 yards in length.

The entry total for the 2016 U.S. Senior Amateur was 2,382.

Some of my friends joke about the Senior Amateur. They call it the Geezer Amateur or invoke some other deprecating reference to age.

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John Madden (Photo courtesy of the USGA)

But, to tell the obvious truth, the rookies in this championship are 55 years old. Russell Hook of South Jordan, Utah, and Bob Royak of Alpharetta, Ga., tied for the honor of youngest player — each 55 years and eight days prior to the start of the event.

Vinny Giles, who has won both the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Senior Amateur is the oldest golfer here at 73. Think about it: Battling with bogeys for a national title at 73.

The oldest champion in U.S. Senior Amateur history was Lew Oehmig at 69 years, 4 months and 24 days.

Long live the Senior Amateur. Long live the golfers who compete earnestly into their 70s. Giles is not only my hero, he is a precursor of plenty of many great senior golfers to come.

—James Achenbach, Senior Golf Insider