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Notebook: Teammates Reunite After More Than 40 Years

By Beth Murrison, USGA

Andover, Kan. – Kansas native Bill McDonald was happy to have a familiar face in the gallery during his second-round match against Frank Ford.

Well, it might be a stretch to say the face was familiar. After all, faces tend to change a bit after 41 years.

Bill McDonald follows his shot during the second round Tuesday at Flint Hills National Golf Club. (Fred Vuich/USGA)

That’s how long it had been since McDonald, the 1964 U.S. APL champion, had seen his college teammate, Guy Harris.

When McDonald and his wife Kathy got ready to travel to Kansas from their home in Troy, Mich., they looked up Harris on the internet. They weren’t sure they had the right Guy Harris, but left a phone message for Harris, who now lives in Wichita.  

“I was just really flabbergasted,” said Harris about hearing his old teammate’s voice on the answering machine.

Harris and McDonald played together on the golf team at Washburn University in Topeka in 1965 and 1966. Harris then left to join the army and McDonald eventually left Kansas and settled in Michigan.

When Harris arrived at the McDonalds’ hotel Saturday, they admit they didn’t recognize each other at first. But quickly, they were working on making up for lost time.

“We were trying to cram 41 years into two hours,” said Harris, who still plays golf occasionally. “It was just nonstop talking.”

McDonald lost his match to Ford. But as he stood outside the clubhouse, laughing with Harris as they recalled their reunion after 40 years, it seemed almost secondary.

On The Bag

Don Marsh had a long day Tuesday, needing 23 holes to beat 2004 Senior Amateur champion Mark Bemowski in the second round before falling 6-and-5 to Sam Farlow in the afternoon’s third round.

But throughout the day, he had the encouragement of his wife Belinda, who was on hand as not only a supporter, but also his caddie.

“It’s definitely nice to have somebody who is a supporter when you’re out there,” said Marsh. “And she’s a good golfer in her own right.”

Belinda, a member of the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship Committee, also was on the bag when Don won the Canadian Senior Match Play Championship earlier this summer.

She doesn’t like to read putts but she does get yardages and replace divots. She has also earned the respect of her husband’s fellow players.

“Usually for the fist hole or two, I sense that they’re a little hesitant to ask me to tend the flagstick,” said Belinda. “But then they usually realize I know what I’m doing and they’re grateful to have someone helping.”

Not On The Bag, But With Good Reason

Alistair Catto would usually have his wife serving as his caddie as well this week. But she had her own golf to play after qualifying for the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur, which was played at Sunriver (Ore.) Resort the same days as the men’s championship.

“She would have been here, and I would have been there,” said Catto. “But unfortunately they coincide.”

So Catto used a cart during stroke-play qualifying, during which he played with defending champion Mike Bell. When Bell missed the cut to match play, Catto wound up using his local caddie, Jonathan Day, who just happens to hold the course record at Flint Hills National.

“Without him, I never would have won the match today,” said Catto, who is playing in his first Senior Amateur.

His wife will be happy to hear that. She missed the cut at Sunriver but has been checking in frequently. Bonnie, a professor of Latin and Greek at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., flew across the country Tuesday so she can teach class tomorrow morning.

For Alistair, there is more golf to play. He won two matches Tuesday to advance to Wednesday’s quarterfinals.

Just In Time

Stanford Lee is glad he wasn’t born a day later.

The cutoff birth date for anyone who wanted to play in this year’s Senior Amateur was Sept. 1, 1952. Lee’s birthday? Sept. 1, 1952, meaning he was just eligible to play.

That obviously makes Lee the youngest of the quarterfinalists, which will be his next stop after two victories Tuesday. Lee, a former college golfer at LSU, has also played in the U.S. Junior Amateur, U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Mid-Amateur.

“Tiger has his grand slam,” said Lee. “This is mine.”

Beth Murrison is a manager of media relations for the USGA. E-mail her at bmurrison@usga.org with questions or comments.

 

 
Championship Facts

VENUE – Flint Hills National Golf Club, north of Wichita, Kan., was designed by Tom Fazio and opened in 1997.

COURSE RATING AND SLOPE – The USGA Course RatingTM for Flint Hills National Golf Club is 72.2; Slope Rating® is 133.

COURSE LAYOUT – The fairways will measure 0.55" in height. There will be no intermediate rough used outside the fairways. Depending on density, the primary rough will stand between 2½ and 3 inches high. The greens will measure approximately 10.5 feet on the Stimpmeter.

HISTORY – The USGA Senior Amateur Championship was first played in 1955. The 2007 Senior Amateur Championship will be the 53rd.

SCHEDULE – Practice rounds will be held Aug. 30 (Thursday) and Aug. 31 (Friday). The starting field of 156 players will play two rounds of stroke play, with the low 64 scorers advancing to match play. The schedule is as follows:

  • Sept. 1 (Saturday) – First round of stroke play
  • Sept. 2 (Sunday) – Second round of stroke play
  • Sept. 3 (Monday) – First round of match play
  • Sept. 4 (Tuesday) – Second and third rounds of match play
  • Sept. 5 (Wednesday) – Quarterfinals and semifinals, match play
  • Sept. 6 (Thursday) – Final, match play (18 holes)

 

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