U.S. Senior Open Notes From Mike Allen

Playing in the U.S. Senior Open has been an absolute blast.  From the moment I qualified for the event, the experience has been exciting for myself, friends, and family.  I want to express my appreciation for the amount of support I received from all the golfing community in Austin.

At age 63, just qualifying for an event of this magnitude can be considered an accomplishment.  And, altough I had hoped to play better, my performance was similar to all the amateurs except Tim Jackson, the only amateur to make the cut.  For those of you not familiar with Mr. Jackson, he has been a prominent amateur on a national scale and played in numerous USGA events.

Qualifying for this event carries certain perks and experiences that were different for me such as: 

  • The USGA arranges transportation from the airport to your hotel and provides a courtesy car during your entire stay.  They will also arrange transportation to and from the airport for family members flying on separate schedules.
  • Player-Guest passes for immediate family members.  This pass allows players and family members to have complementary breakfast and lunch.  This is a cool experience because you wind up meeting lots of players and having fun talking with them and their families.
  • A locker at the host club with your name on it.  This was cool because the lockers were in alphabetical order and so I was next to Michael Allen.  Imagine that.  I had fun introducing myself and meeting Michael.  He was a gracious and engaging person.
  • Playing a great and historic golf course.  The experience of playing at Inverness in U.S. Open conditions is similar to playing  Austin Country Club from the back tees in terms of degree of difficulty.  The difference is that the rough is deep and thick. Gereenside shots from the rough are extremely difficult and require a different technique. I shot 78 the first round and made two double bogeys and a triple bogey on par fours when I was no more than 60 feet from the pin in two on all these holes.  I left if in the rough on all three occasions.  I saw some players that could handle it but I also saw some players of high skill levels, such as Russ Cochran fail to get it on the green from two feet away.
  • Meeting players like Nick Price, John Cook, Olin Browne, Tom Lehman etc.
  • Having Ben Crenshaw welcome you to the tournament and congratulate you on qualifying.
  • Interacting with the Austin Golfers Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, J.L. Lewis, Tom Jenkins
  • Having a professional tour caddy.  My caddy was "Bagger Bob", whose real name is Bob McFadden.  He caddied for Tom Jenkins for 13 years and $13.5 million in winnings then retired and is now caddying part time. He was a great guy and a wonderful caddy.  He as very encouraging and knowledgable.
  • Signing hundreds of autographs.  That was different.
  • Being inside the ropes and playing with large crowds watching
  • Hitting balls on the practice range along side players you've watched on television for years.
  • Being on ESPN and making a birdie on television.  Having people who saw it text my wife and say "I just saw Mike on Television and they did a nice profile on him" .  The USGA does a player profile to the media and that information is available to the media during their coverage.
  • Hitting the first tee shot in a U.S. Senior Open.  Oddly enough I was not that nervous.  I did not find it to be dissimilar from playing in a final group in one of the Austin tournaments or a TGA event. 
  • Interacting with the USGA staff and all the volunteers to run this event was neat and I met lots of nice people.

Although there is limited access in terms of taking pictures, I have started a photo album of the experience and it is available by  clicking here.

I must say that after playing in the tournament, missing the cut, then watching play from outside the ropes on Saturday.  It is all somewhat surreal.  I highly recommend the experience to anyone.

Thats it for now.  I'm headed to the final round to see how it turns out.  I'll post more information as it becomes available.

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