Flagstaff, Ariz. (Sept 8, 2006) -- Like so many other college golfers, Kevin Marsh had visions of earning his living as a professional golfer.
He graduated from Pepperdine University in 1996 and spent the next four years chasing a golf ball and living out of a suitcase. But he cashed only a few checks.
So, when he had the chance at a career in commercial real estate development, he left the fairways for greener pastures. Ironically, his golf game got brighter too.
He regained his amateur status in 2002, and began playing competitively among other amateurs. First, he won the 2004 Santa Barbara (Calif.) City Championship, then the 2005 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.
"It’s been incredible," said Marsh, 33, a resident of Las Vegas. "You have no idea what it is to be a USGA champion until you are one. It’s something I always will be proud of.
"They can’t ever take that away from me. It doesn’t matter if I come to this Mid-Amateur and shoot 100, I will always have that accomplishment. But, when you win it once, you want to do it again."
He’ll get his chance at defending his Mid-Amateur title Sept. 9-14 at Forest Highlands Golf Club. The match-play portion of the championship, conducted by the United States Golf Association for those ages 25 and older, will be played on the Canyon Course, where Shane McMenamy of Grand Fork, N.D, edged Charles Howell of Augusta, Ga., for the U.S. Junior Amateur title in 1996.
Marsh will be joined by several past champions who have the same drive to get back to the winner’s circle, where one of the benefits is a likely invitation to play in the next Masters Tournament.
Among the recent winners in the field are Austin Eaton III (2004) of New London, N.H.; Nathan Smith (2003) of Brookville, Pa.; George Zahringer (2002) of New York, N.Y.; Tim Jackson (2001) of Germantown, Tenn.; Danny Green (1999) of Jackson, Tenn.; John "Spider" Miller (1996 and 1998) of Bloomington, Ind.; and Ken Bakst (1997) of New York, N.Y. Another past winner is Jay Sigel, who has moved on to enjoy success on the professional Champions Tour since turning 50.
Smith is the only one of this year’s field of 264 who played in the Junior at Forest Highlands in 1996. Then a teen, he failed to qualify for match play.
Other notables entered are Trip Kuehne of Dallas, Texas, the runner-up in the 1994 U.S. Amateur and "Buddy" Marucci of Malvern, Pa., the runner-up in the 1995 Amateur. Both lost to Tiger Woods.
In 2005, Marsh defeated Carlton Forrester, 30, of Birmingham, Ala., for his win. Forrester, an investment planner, is a former college golfer for Georgia Tech, where he was the roommate of pro golfer Matt Kuchar.
After marching through five matches without ever needing to play the 18th hole, Forrester’s game went sour. And Marsh’s putter was red hot. Marsh was 5 under par for his first 18 holes, with the usual match-play concessions, and held and insurmountable 10-up lead in the 36-hole final.
It ended soon thereafter, with Marsh winning, 10 and 9.
The taste of sweet victory, and a chance to play in the Masters Tournament, is waiting for one golfer at Forest Highlands who can play the 6,941-yard Canyon course better than anyone else.