Update 5/15/09: After reaching the Final 16 of the 2008 U.S. Amateur, Marsh added to his impressive resume by winning the 2009 Carlton Woods Invitational.
Nevada's Kevin Marsh followed the path of most former college All-Americans coming out of college in trying his hand at the pro game. Joining the Hooters Tour in 1997 after his stint at Pepperdine, Marsh said he enjoyed the competitive aspect and travel schedule of being a pro, but couldn't quite wrap his head around the winning aspect.
It's not as if Marsh couldn't win at the professional level, it was the mind set of making cuts in order to earn a paycheck that disagreed with him.
"I never really had a lot of money the first year, I was going out, freewheeling it, playing in 19-20 events," said Marsh. "I made about 27-28 thousand dollars and I was playing pretty well. I just didn't like the business part of it, I got away from the business aspect.
"In the (2008) SCGA Mid-Am (where he was runner-up by one stroke to Jeff Wilson) I was coming down the stretch trying to win, but on a pro tour, there is a big money difference between coming in 2nd or 10th. I got away from that as a pro, where I'd worry about shooting a couple under par to make the cut. But at the Hooters Tour, if you make the cut at 4-under, you are 10 strokes back heading into the weekend. I ended up making a lot of cuts and coming in 40th."
When he applied and received his amateur reinstatement in 2002, he called the day one of the happiest of his life.
Now 35 and making his living as a real estate developer in Las Vegas, Marsh has gone on to some big things in the amateur golf world, most notably winning the 2005 U.S. Mid-Amateur and earning a trip to the 2006 Masters, a memory he holds with obvious reverence.
"Augusta National is one of the few places where you go there to watch, play as a guest or play the tournament where it exceeds any expectations you may have had," said Marsh. "My first visit was in early January after I got my invitation. You think of Augusta National as a super exclusive, kind of stuffy club, then you pull through the gate and drive down Magnolia Lane, get your clubs out of your car and you feel like you are walking on eggshells in the clubhouse. Forget about playing in the Masters, I was nervous just walking around there.
"But within five minutes they just make you feel so comfortable, so welcome it's unbelievable. I honestly think we get treated better than the pros. Especially the Mid-Ams"
Marsh said the thought it was the state of mutual admiration from incredibly successful businessman to top-level amateur golfer that accounts for this.
"The members there are obviously the top thousandth percent of most successful people in the world, I think they see a piece of us in them, whereas we aspire to be them more so than the Tiger Woods or Trevor Immelmans."
Marsh finished 79-81--160, missing the cut but taking in the experience of a lifetime.
He took home another experience of a lifetime years earlier, when he became the only person in history to make his first appearance as a college coach in the NCAA D-I Championship, and lead his team to victory.
This adventure happened quite by accident, as Marsh, a year removed from graduating from Pepperdine as the golf team captain and now playing on the Hooters Tour, found that his next Tour stop was in Illinois around the same time as the 1997 NCAA D-I Championship, where his alma mater would be taking the field.
The team's new coach John Geiberger felt ill before the first practice round and asked Marsh to bring the squad to the course. By the time he got home, a diagnosis had been made, chicken pox.
Geiberger was forced into quarantine in his hotel room, and with no time for the Athletic Director to arrive in town before the tourney started, there was only one choice: Marsh had to take over as coach.
Led by Jason Gore (Marsh's former roommate) and getting career rounds from the 2-4 players, Pepperdine won the title, giving Marsh a championship ring and an unblemished record of: 1 Match, 1 Win, 1 NCAA Championship.
Marsh says it wasn't any nuggets of wisdom from him that inspired the team, though.
"I'm not going to take any credit for it, I roomed with Jason and a few of the other guys, so I think just having me out there talking with them joking with them, it was almost like having no coach," said Marsh.