LAS VEGAS, NEVADA (March 21, 2006) -- When 2005 USGA Mid Amateur Champion Kevin Marsh received his invitation to the 2006 Masters this past December, he wasn’t sure what to do next.
”The invitation said to RSVP, but there was no reply card – so I called the club and spoke to a woman who laughed a bit before telling me she gets calls from first-timers like me every year.”
When it was recommended to Marsh that he draft a letter of acceptance, he took a break from his job as a real estate developer and fired it off in that day’s mail. Just over a month later, he was standing on the first tee of Augusta National getting ready for his first practice round. On April 6, Marsh, 32, will put his peg in the ground on the newly-lengthened hole surrounded by thousands of spectators as he hears the announcer’s famous words, “Fore please, on the tee, Kevin Marsh!”
Marsh’s golf odyssey – since graduating from Pepperdine University, where he was a year ahead of Jason Gore – included a stint as a Hooters Tour pro and subsequent amateur reinstatement by the USGA. It also included a brief, but highly successfully, experience as a college coach in 1997 when he was asked to fill in for chicken-pox-quarantined Pepperdine Coach John Geiberger in Chicago and the team won the National Championship.
He is now focused on commercial real estate in Las Vegas, (his company is working on a new Costco-anchored strip mall) but he won’t have any trouble getting some vacation time to compete against the top golfers in the world. Marsh’s goal is to make the cut and win low amateur honors. But he hasn’t discounted the possibility of finishing in the top 16 (guaranteeing an invite back the next year) or even winning the whole thing.
”I have thought about it, and one thing is for sure. No matter what happens I’m going to respect the opportunity given to me by the USGA to retain my amateur status,” said Marsh.
In a world where players often turn pro without giving it much thought, Marsh clearly has his priorities straight. He will soon get to enjoy one of the famous peach cobbler deserts after lunch in Augusta National’s clubhouse, in the company of various golf luminaries. But it will be hard to top the lunch he enjoyed last September at the Honors Course in Chattanooga during the half way point of his USGA Mid-Am final match against Carlton Forrester – the same match that got him into The 2006 Masters.
”I had a 10-up lead after the first eighteen,” explained Marsh. “I had just played probably the best nine holes of my life, shooting 6-under-par. You might say it was a pretty enjoyable lunch break.”
Marsh, who won four college tournaments while at Pepperdine plus the 1996 SCGA Amateur Championship, was a quarterfinalist in the 2004 USGA Mid Amateur before going all the way in 2005. His 10-and-9 margin of victory was the largest ever in the tournament’s history.