Originally created 10/06/04

Wait is almost over for 56-year-old golfer



For as long as he's been playing golf, Greg Scurlock has wanted to qualify for a U.S. Golf Association event.

The Augustan never thought he'd be 56 years old when it happened.

That's how old Scurlock will be when he makes his USGA debut Saturday in the 50th Senior Amateur at Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles.

Scurlock earned his spot by making it through a sectional qualifier at Aiken's Woodside Plantation.

He's one of 156 players to make the Senior Amateur out of a record 2,420 entrants from across the country. Former Augustan Frank Perry, of Fayetteville, Ga., is another qualifier.

"Qualifying is tough, especially with the seniors because it's just one round (as opposed to 36 holes for the U.S. Amateur)," Scurlock said. "You've got to be on or you don't go."

Scurlock, a former University of South Carolina golfer (class of 1967), tried to qualify for the U.S. Amateur in his younger days, finishing as a first alternate one year.

After that, the closest Scurlock came to a USGA event was watching his sons, 27-year-old Blair and 26-year-old Brian, play in U.S. Amateurs.

Greg caddied for Blair at the 1997 U.S. Amateur in Lemont, Ill., and he watched Brian play at Pebble Beach in 1999.

"I've been to those things and I've always wanted to play in at least one USGA event before I left this world," Scurlock said. "At least I got that out of the way."

Once Scurlock turned 50, he started to play in a few tournaments on the area's Regions Cup circuit, where players are considered to be seniors when they reach 50. At the USGA, the rule is 55.

"I enjoy it and it's fun to me to have that kind of competition," said Scurlock, who won the Regions Cup's Midland Valley Senior Invitational in 2002 and finished tied for sixth in the Georgia Amateur Championship in September.

If Scurlock doesn't make it to the match-play portion of the Senior Amateur (the top 64 advance after two rounds of stroke play) he can't say he wasn't ready.

In September, Scurlock retired after 30 years in the banking business. Scurlock left Wachovia, where he was the relationship manager in the wealth management department.

"I retired, but I didn't do that just to concentrate on golf," Scurlock said. "Since I do have a little bit of time, I'm going to do that. As far as retirement goes, I'm not going to stay retired. I just retired from 30 years in the banking business. I'll end up doing something else."

Just what that is, Scurlock can't say.

"I'm still young; I can't just quit (working)," Scurlock said. "I'm kind of turning the page. I'm going to see what's out there; it would be nice to do something involved in golf.

"In the meantime, it's a lot of fun to be able to have the time to work on golf. It's the only hobby I've ever had. I don't hunt or fish or any of that kind of stuff."

From the veranda at his home course, Augusta Country Club, Scurlock nods toward the historic course.

"Now, I can come out here and hit balls in the morning, eat lunch and hit more balls or play in the afternoon," said Scurlock, a two-time club champion at the course.

Tommy Brannen, the Augusta Country Club head pro and noted instructor, works with Scurlock occasionally.

"He gives me ideas and then I go out, and as (Ben) Hogan said, I 'dig it out of the dirt' and hit balls. Right now, I'm having a good time experimenting and working on swing things. It's been something I've wanted to be able to do - have some time to work on golf. I've always just been a weekend player."

In 2005, Scurlock plans to play a more extensive Regions Cup schedule. He might even give Senior Player of the Year Mike Jackson, who won five of the 10 senior division tournaments, some competition.

"I think by next year I would be doing something, but it's not going to get in the way of playing in those tournaments," Scurlock said.

Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851 or david.westin@augustachronicle.com.