By Peter Conroy, amateurgolf.com
After turning 29 or so, birthdays aren't always things to look forward to. That is also true for amateur golfers, with one notable exception, the date which one turns 55 and no longer has to compete against up-and-coming collegiate golfers, mid-ams coming off four years of daily play in college, or juniors who can hit the ball a mile despite being in their teens.
When that 55th birthday hits, the golfer becomes the young buck in the senior flights of tournaments, and immediately someone to be reckoned with.
This was the case for Chicago's Tom Studer, who turned 55 in June of 2007 and immediately went on a streak of impressive finishes, with a win at the Illinois State Amateur, fourth-place (and low-am) finish at the Illinois State Open, third at the North and South Senior and 17th at the Trans-Miss Senior. That streak, despite playing only half the golf season as a senior, earned him Chicago District Player of the Year honors for the 2007 season.
As one of the most decorated amateurs in the state, it wasn't a huge surprise that Studer would make waves at the next level in his career, after all he had qualified for 15 USGA championships while winning 25 state events, including three majors (CDGA Championship in 1989, Illinois Mid-Am in 1993, Illinois Senior Am in 2007).
He said he first knew he had the game to play on a national level after the third-place finish at the North and South.
"The hallmark of my game is consistency, I don't go extremely low," said Studer, noting that he also doesn't get himself in a lot of trouble. "I'm a good ball-striker and probably have more tournament experience than many of the senior tournament players in Illinois."
An independent financial advisor, Studer says he is looking forward to his first full season as senior.
"It's exciting to be going through amateurgolf.com's database, finding the national tournaments to play in," said Studer. "I'm looking at the Golfweek Senior Amateur in April and the Senior Porter Cup in July, I'll try to get to one per month."