October 16, 2015
Sometimes there are unmistakable signs of quality in the way some folks play golf.
I saw quite a bit of it during the second round of medal play in the 2015 USGA Senior Amateur, held at Hidden Creek Golf Club in Egg Harbor Township, NJ.
The group of three golfers that began play on the 10th tee at 8:10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 27 included a past Senior Amateur champion and another golfer with a long USGA competitive resume.
George (Buddy) Marucci, Jr., 63, of Villanova, PA, won the Senior Amateur in 2008. He has captained and played in several Walker Cup competitions, as well as dozens of USGA championships, including the time he finished second in the 1995 U.S. Amateur to a college kid from Stanford named Tiger Woods.
Steve Bogan, 67, has his own extensive USGA history, beginning with the 1965 USGA Junior Championship, held at Wilmington Country Club. The Placentia, CA real estate professional also played in the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont, in addition to several Senior Amateurs, and twice won the SoCal Senior Amateur.
Matthew Horwitch, 56, the third member of the group, is an insurance executive in Chicago, IL. On top of local successes in amateur competitions in Illinois and Wisconsin, he played in last year’s Senior Amateur, missing the match play rounds by a single stroke.
The 446-yard par-4 10th hole is a beast of a hole to start a round on any occasion, but especially in the second day of stroke play at the Senior Amateur. Marucci parred it, but Bogan and Horwitch bogeyed it. That hole did similar damage to many more competitors that day.
Marucci ran off seven more straight pars before reaching the 428-yard par-4 18th hole, where he made the first of his two bogeys for the day–but it was a great bogey.
His drive went far left, forcing a pitch out to 143 yards. His third shot landed in the deep bunker fronting the right edge of the green. With his head below the green surface, Marucci blasted out to 6 feet below the hole, and made the putt.
He turned his game up a notch on the next nine, with two birdies from near kick-in range on the 2d and 8th holes. Marucci’s other bogey came on the 424-yard par-4 6th hole, where another errant drive to the left led to a two-putt 5.
Bogan was nearly as good, but not quite. He played his first nine holes in 2-over, with 5 pars, 3 bogeys, and a successful 20-foot putt for birdie on the 499-yard par-5 17th hole.
On the second nine, he had seven more pars and a bogey, but stumbled to a double-bogey finish on the 582-yard par-5 ninth hole.
Horwitch began his round with some promise, going bogey-birdie-par for the first three holes. He finished his first nine at 2-over, but then started having trouble with his chipping and putting.
Four more bogeys and two double bogeys killed any chance Horwitch had to make the cut for the match play rounds. His fine par on the finishing hole helped lighten his mood, but not much.
In a post-round chat, Marucci and Horwitch readily agreed that the second round was a little easier in some respects than the very windy first round, except for putting.
“The greens looked a little faster than they actually were. They might have been running at 10 or so [on the Stimpmeter]. It was just hard to judge their speed when the greens are as big as these are,” Marucci said.
When I suggested that a high green in regulation percentage could be deceiving at Hidden Creek, Marucci laughed: “Yeah, you’d really want to see the putting stats instead.”
Marucci easily made the cut for the match play rounds with his 73-71-144 two-day total, but lost in the first day’s match to another Walker Cub captain, Jim Holtgrieve of St. Louis, MO, 4&3.
Bogan shot 78-76-154, and tied for 100th. Horwitch finished his 2015 Senior Amateur in a tie for 114th, 5 strokes out of the running for the match play rounds.