Sometimes the best way to play golf is just to go out there and try to have fun. And when you do that, you might just shoot 68 as a 76-year-old in a U.S. Senior Amateur qualifier.
, a resident of Apollo Beach, Fla., qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship
at Martis Camp Club in Truckee, Calif., from August 26-31 after finishing second with a two-under 68.
“I feel great,” McDade said after qualifying.
McDade is no stranger to these qualifiers, as he played in them since turning 55 up until five years ago. But he hasn’t played in one in five years and did not plan to ever play in another one.
And McDade only decided to play because a friend convinced him to play the course. When he went to sign up for the qualifier, there was one spot left. After shooting 77 in a practice round, McDade went into the qualifier with no expectations for himself.
The qualifier was played at Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club, one of the nicest and oldest golf courses in Tampa.
“I really didn’t care and had no expectations,” McDade said. “I just went out and played golf. I had no aspirations at all.”
However, he birdied his first hole (No. 10 since he started on the back nine) and birdied No. 16 to make the turn at 2-under.
And standing on the first tee, he knew he had a shot to qualify.
“I can do this," McDade said to himself.
He made six pars to start his back nine, but a bogey on No. 7 caused him to have to refocus and make sure he made no more mistakes.
Then, on No. 8, he made a 40-foot putt for birdie to solidify his spot in the Championship.
“I just kept playing solid and knocking it on the green,” McDade said.
McDade hit 12 greens in regulation and had 28 putts.
“I got up and down every time I needed to,” McDade said. “Short game is everything in golf, and I try to pride myself on that. Whenever you aren’t doing what you are supposed to do, you can make up for it with the short game.”
McDade has had an impressive amateur golf career, playing Senior Amateur golf since he retired at 55. McDade won the Dixie Amateur in 2006, and 19 years ago, at 57 years old, he qualified for the 2004 U.S. Senior Amateur at Bel-Air Country Club and, at this point in his career, figured that was the first and only one he was going to play in.
He has come close a couple of other times, earning first alternate honors more than once.
It was a comfortable pairing as well, as he was paired with Michael Kelley of Tampa, Fla., who shot even-par 70 and won first alternate honors in a playoff.
The group played in three hours and 20 minutes which helped them stay focused and in rhythm.
McDade made sure to temper expectations before they got going.
“I really got no business being here, but let's have fun, and I promise I won’t hold you up,” McDade told Kelley on the first tee.
As everyone in the field found out quickly, McDade had all the game to be there.
ABOUT THE U.S. Senior Amateur
The USGA Senior Amateur is open to those
with a USGA Handicap Index of 7.4 or lower,
who are 55 or older on or before the day the
championship begins. It is one of 14 national
championships conducted annually by the
USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
View Complete Tournament Information