Allen Peake (Photo submitted)
You might say Allen Peake
is going about his golf life in reverse. Many players serious about the game will devote years in their 20s to competition, testing the waters to see if it’s meant for them before
moving on to a career. Peake is doing that at age 57.
For Peake, a failed attempt to walk on to the men’s golf team at Auburn University set the trajectory for a career in restaurant ownership that transformed into a career in politics. But with the business and government elements of his life drawing to a close, Peake is on a path back to something he never really forgot.
Peake sold his restaurants in the fall of 2017 – a number of Cheddars and Captain D’s – and made the decision in early 2018 that he would not seek another term in the Georgia House of Representatives after having served for 12 years. In golf, he knew he had a lot of ground to make up, but extra time would provide a chance to build up his “golf equity” again.
“What if” can be a popular refrain among lifelong golfers, and Peake set out to answer it this year. What would happen if he entered as many events as possible? How sharp could his game become and where could it take him?
“I’m going to play every event I can get in to try and improve my tournament game,” Peake explained. “You have to be there, you have to be under the gun, you have to have the lead, you have to sleep on the lead. All of that was what my mindset was. I’m going to play as much as I can to get better.”
The numbers from 2018 are madness. When Peake teed it up at last week's Ralph Bogart Senior, it was his 33rd competitive start of the calendar year.
“The reality is, I’m living out my dream right now,” he said.
Last month, Peake won a Florida State Golf Association Winter Series event. Earlier in the fall, he won the Senior Peach Blossom, a four-ball event in his native Georgia, and he won the club championship at Mountaintop Golf Club in Cashiers, N.C., where he is also a member.
Nationally, Peake has spent an impressive amount of time knocking at the door. He has logged 10 top-10 finishes in stroke-play events in 2018, and he is watching his surroundings all the time.
At the end of last month, Peake played the final two rounds of the Golfweek
Senior Tournament of Champions paired with eventual winner Gene Elliott, a senior legend who qualified for the Senior Open in Scotland
this past year. Peake – who, by the way, is No. 4 in the AmateurGolf.com Senior Rankings – had led after each of the first two rounds in the 54-hole event.
“As the round was winding down, it was clear he was going to win,” Peake said.
“He’s a great guy and a tremendous player and he could not have been more gracious, and was really good to me as I quizzed him.”
Elliott pointed out to Peake that he didn’t need to do anything spectacular to get over the hump, and that reflected Elliott’s day: he made pars, he hit greens, he made two-putts, he made good up and downs and when he missed greens, he never did anything really crazy.
And for two days, Peake was competitive with that. He hopes his experience in 2018 will carry over to 2019, but for Peake, there’s a measuring stick that will indicate success.
Peake qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur, his lone USGA event, in 2005 but bogeyed the final three holes to miss the match-play cut. He’s been fighting to get back ever since. He is 0-for-3 in U.S. Senior Amateur qualifiers and has had several close calls in Mid-Am qualifying. Many of the senior players who frequent the same circuit as Peake have made dozens of USGA starts. That he’s competitive with those players gives Peake hope.
“I’m there on the edge, right there almost good enough, but not good enough yet,” Peake said.
Peake can’t think of another past legislator who frequents the senior golf circuit, and there certainly isn’t one who tees it up in as many events as he does. Frequency is the name of the game, for now.
“I’ve found that for me, I get on these rolls and it’s good for me to keep playing because I can just tell when I’m playing good, it’s good for me to keep going,” Peake said.
• • •
HEADED TO THE NEXT LEVEL
: Two notable amateurs announced they would turn professional this week, each leaving college golf behind with a semester of eligibility remaining.
Ohio State senior Jaclyn Lee
, who was T-5 at last spring’s NCAA Championship, decided she would turn professional to take advantage of the LPGA card she earned at the Q-Series in October. Lee, the No. 2 player in the Golfweek
/AmateurGolf.com Rankings, had been weighing her options as to whether she would defer or accept status immediately in order to begin the LPGA season at the start of the new year.
She made this announcement on Dec. 7:
also confirmed that Colorado's Robyn Choi would make a similar move and accept the LPGA card she earned at the Q-Series, too, thus forfeiting her final year and a half of eligibility.
On the men’s side, Golf Channel
confirmed that Alabama senior Davis Riley
would turn professional instead of returning for his senior season with the Crimson Tide. Riley, who was runner-up at the Western Amateur this summer and a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Amateur, had also recently been invited to attend the USGA’s Walker Cup practice session this month. He declined the invitation a few days later.
• • •
A SOCAL FIRST
: For the first time since the matches were founded in 2011, amateurs from the Southern California Golf Association beat professionals from the Southern California PGA in the Southern California Women’s Cup Matches. The amateurs won seven of eight singles matches on Dec. 7 on their way to winning the title.
• • •
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
: IN REMEMBRANCE
George W. Bush noted in his Dec. 5 eulogy for his father George H.W. Bush that the elder Bush had a penchant for fast play on the golf course, and followed it up with this anecdote:
“He taught us that a day was not meant to be wasted. He played golf at a legendary pace. I always wondered why he insisted on speed golf. He was a good golfer.
Well, here's my conclusion: he played fast so that he could move on to the next event, to enjoy the rest of the day, to expend his enormous energy, to live it all. He was born with just two settings: full throttle, then sleep.”
• • •
STAT OF THE WEEK
• • •
WE’RE STILL GOING, ARE YOU STILL READING?