Bemowski: Losing Never Crossed My Mind

By Pete Kowalski, USGA

Rocky Face, Ga. – They represent the kind of cross section the USGA is seeking in the participants of any of its championships.

 
Grouped with Ben Crenshaw and Peter Jacobsen during the first two rounds at this year’s U.S. Senior Open, Mark Bemowski did not make the cut. (USGA Photo Archives)
One lives in a suburb of Milwaukee, Wis., and played in a national championship with Ben Crenshaw and Peter Jacobsen.

The other lives in Lithonia, Ga., and played professional baseball with Henry Aaron.

Both will be among the 156 golfers, 55 and older, who will play in the 2005 USGA Senior Amateur, which will be contested at The Farm Golf Club from Sept. 17-22.

Mark Bemowski, 59, of Mukwanago, Wis., which is near Milwaukee, won the Frederick Dold Trophy as the USGA Senior Amateur champion last year at Bel Air Country Club in Los Angeles. Exempt from having to qualify, he just had to send in his entry application.

Fifty-nine-year-old Marty Perez, who spent 10 years in major league baseball (six with the Atlanta Braves) as a shortstop, also sent in his entry. But on Aug. 22, he stepped to the tee at Dalton (Ga.) Country Club with 34 other players and attempted to gain one of two spots at qualifying.

Bemowski defeated Greg Reynolds of Grand Blanc, Mich, 4 and 3, in the final of the 2004 Senior Amateur and was paired with Crenshaw and Jacobsen in the first two rounds of the 2005 U.S. Senior Open at NCR Country Club in Kettering, Ohio, last month.

Perez, who works in the insurance business, chipped in on Dalton C.C.’s 18th hole for birdie to tie USA Walker Cup captain Bob Lewis at 1-under-par 71 to advance to the national championship.

"If he’s any indication of the type of player I’ve got to beat, then I’ve got a tough road," said Perez of Lewis, who was runner-up to Hal Sutton in the 1980 U.S. Amateur and a four-time Walker Cup participant.

Bemowski, a six-time Wisconsin Amateur champion who works in the golf promotion business, had advanced to the final in 2002 but lost to Reynolds.

"I was eminently more prepared in 2004," the grandfather of three said. "I felt from the day I arrived that I would win. Losing never crossed my mind."

About to play in his fifth Senior Amateur, Bemowski has advanced to match play in all four previous championships and holds a 15-3 record.

"You’ve got to be a good player and fortunate in match play," said Bemowski. "Match play can be such a no-brainer game. In 2004, I had six matches and nobody pulled anything on me like chipping in or making a 100-foot putt."

In contrast, Perez has played competitive golf since he turned 50 and won his club championship "four or five times." He is playing in his first USGA championship, as will many in the field.

He feels that going through the qualifying process for the Senior Amateur could be more difficult than playing in the actual event.

"I was so doggone nervous on the first tee, I was just hoping to hit the ball and I almost didn’t," said Perez.

Perez, however, is no stranger to the big stage.

"Henry Aaron was such a great force in baseball," he said. "I was there the year he was going for the home run record (1974). We had 100-150 media always around asking us questions."

But does it compare to playing golf for a score in competitive situations?

"Standing over a 2-foot putt is like having a 3 and 2 count with two outs in the ninth and the bases loaded," said Perez. "The pressure is tremendous."

Perez, as Bemowski can attest, will find out soon enough how pressured-packed the championship can be.

Pete Kowalski is a Manager in Media Relations for the USGA. E-mail him with questions or comments at pkowalski@usga.org.

 

 

USGA Senior Amateur Championship

PAR AND YARDAGE – The Farm Golf Club will be set up at 6,737/6,763 and par is 36-36—72.

COURSE SET-UP –
Teeing ground - Height of grass -- 425 inches
Fairways – Height of grass -- .450 inches
Green approaches and closely mown areas – Height of grass -- .425 inches
Collars around greens – Height of grass -- .230 inches
Intermediate rough – USGA asked for addition of intermediate rough that will be cut to 1 ˝ inches and 6-feet wide
Primary rough – 2 ˝ inches
Putting greens – USGA Stimpmeter reading of 11 feet

VENUE – The Farm Golf Club was designed by Tom Fazio and opened in 1988. Located between Atlanta and Chattanooga in northwest Georgia, The Farm benefits from significant elevation changes, which provide a scenic and difficult test of golf.

HISTORY – The USGA Senior Amateur Championship was first played in 1955. The 2005 Senior Amateur Championship will be the 51st.

SCHEDULE – Stroke play rounds will be played Sept. 17-18 (Saturday-Sunday). Following two days of stroke play, the field of 157 golfers will be reduced to the lowest 64 scorers, who will advance to match play. The match play portion of the Championship runs from September 19-22 (Monday-Thursday). The first round is set for Sept. 19 (9:30 a.m. start); the second and third rounds for Sept. 20 (8:15 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. starts) and the quarterfinals and semifinals (8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. starts) for Sept. 21. The 18-hole, match-play final (9 a.m.) is scheduled for Sept. 22.

CAN I PLAY? – The USGA Senior Amateur Championship is open to amateurs who will have reached their 55th birthday on or before Sept. 17, 2005, and who have a USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 7.4.

ENTRIES – The USGA accepted a record 2,498 entries for the 2005 USGA Senior Amateur Championship, the fifth consecutive year entries topped 2,200. The previous record of 2,420 entries was set in 2004. The deadline for entries was July 27.

TICKETS – Admission and parking are free for all six days of the championship.

DEFENDING CHAMPION – In the finals of the 2004 championship, Mark Bemowski of Mukwonago, Wis., reversed the outcome of the 2002 by defeating Greg Reynolds, 4 and 3, at Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles, Calif. In 2002, Reynolds had beaten Bemowski by the same margin.

 

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