Kalamazoo College Men’s Golf Coach Mitch Wilson had a good summer playing the sport. He was on the winning team in the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) vs. Golf Association of Ontario tournament. He won the club championship at The Moors golf club in Portage, Mich. He made it to the semifinals of the GAM Michigan Senior Match Play. And he finished third in the Michigan Senior Open.
Hard to top that! And yet the 57-year-old is having an even better fall.
In the recent U.S. Senior Amateur played at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, Calif., Wilson shot a seven-over-par 151 (76-75) to miss by just two strokes making the top 64 and qualify for the match play portion of the tournament. It’s the first time he’s ever played in the event operated by the United States Golf Association (USGA).
“Was I happy with my scores? Well, no,” Wilson said with a smile. “I would like to have three shots and one putt over.
“I made three double bogeys, two on the first day and one on the second day, and all of them were preventable. The rest of the tournament was pretty good.”
The local veteran golfer, who has played national tournaments before, (including the USGA’s U.S. Mid-Amateur (for players 25 and older) in 1998 and 2000), still had that nervous feeling on the first tee at the Senior Amateur.
“As much experience as you have in events like this, you still have those first-tee nerves,” he said. “I had enough birdies, but I made a few bad mistakes and it cost me.”
What Wilson has found is that there are a lot of very good golfers in the 55-over set. However, it’s a different mindset.
“It’s not as intense as a senior and you understand it’s not the end of the world,” he said. “It’s a real pleasure to play in these events and become reacquainted with guys you haven’t seen in a while.”
He’s been able to work on his golf game a little more than usual this summer. He retired as the executive director of Pretty Lake Camp near Kalamazoo this past March.
“I’m going to take a year to see how things are going, possibly do some consulting,” Wilson said.
He keeps busy by being on the board of the First Tee of Battle Creek, a nonprofit organization that teaches life skills and leadership through the game of golf, and coaching the Hornet men who are having one of their better seasons of late.
Looking at his tournament results this summer, the extra work has paid off.
Story by Paul Morgan