Ohio Senior Hall of Fame: Hanzel inducted, then wins by 5 shots
- USGA photo
- USGA photo

By Jimmy Watkins of the Sandusky Register

Doug Hanzel sat at the scorer’s table shaking congratulatory hands. He’d just finished shooting a 9-under-par 133 to win the 27th annual Ohio Senior Amateur Hall of Fame Championship by five strokes at Plum Brook Country Club.

“See you next year,” Hanzel told one of the 56 competitors.

“We’d rather not,” the fellow golfer responded.

This is what happens when an accomplished Hall of Famer takes the course. Hanzel was inducted into the Ohio Golf Association Hall of Fame — the third hall Hanzel has joined in 2019 — on Monday night. (The Georgia Golf and High Point Senior National halls of fame honored Hanzel earlier this year.) Then, after three hours of rain delays, he walked away with a trophy and $750 Tuesday.

“It was very special,” Hanzel said of his banner week that included rounds of 66 and 67 on the par-71 layout. “I had a very nice time.”

Hanzel, a 62-year-old retired pulmonologist, lived in Ohio for the first 32 years of his life. He grew up in Orange Village, a suburb southeast of Cleveland, surrounded by three older brothers, three acres of grass and Chagrin Valley Country Club, which Hanzel estimates was located 300 yards from his childhood home.

As a result, he and his brothers took to golf early. They’d cut down clubs and hit balls in the back yard. When they got old enough, they got summer jobs caddying at the country club. If they worked on Sundays, they could golf on Monday.

“It’s just what you did in the summer,” Hanzel said. “Baseball and golf.”

That upbringing laid the foundation for Hanzel’s hall-of-fame résumé: co-captain of the 1979 Kent State golf team, 2013 U.S. Senior Amateur champion and three-time participant in the Concession Cup (think Ryder Cup for mid-amateurs and seniors), among other accolades.

For some time, though, Hanzel’s career pulled him away from the game. Between medical school, residency and a fellowship, he became more of a social golfer than a competitive one. His work kept him from practicing enough to join the Mid-Amateur Tour (players aged 25-40).

Once he moved to Savannah, Georgia, though, he kept the number 55 — the age at which one qualifies for the Amateur Senior Tour — in mind.

As Hanzel crept closer to 55, he grew tired of taking phone calls on the course and rushing to the ICU after a round. So once he turned 55, he decided he’d dedicated enough of his life to the emergency room.

“(I decided that) 25 years in the ICU was enough,” Hanzel said. “At 55, if I could work less and practice a little bit more. I felt that the playing field was a little more level. I was playing against people my age.”

The playing field wasn’t quite as level at Plum Brook for the 36-hole event Monday and Tuesday. But Hanzel’s competitors still have day jobs, for the most part.

Were it not for Hanzel, defending champion Michael Kelley would have repeated as champion by three strokes. Instead, Kelley settled for second and a thorough comprehension of the difference between full- and part-time golfers.

“I’m not good enough,” Kelley said when asked if he would ever follow Hanzel’s path. “Playing with guys like Doug, you can see that. He’s got a complete game.”

The overall net champion was Chris Price with net scores of 64-66—130.

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ABOUT THE Ohio Senior Hall of Fame

The 54-hole championship is open to any player 50 or older with an established handicap. Lucrative pro shop certificates are awarded to both gross and net winners and placers in five different age categories which makes the tournament very fair for everyone involved. Those age groups are 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69 and 70-up. Players over 70 have the option of playing in a special Super Senior class.

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