Santa Rosa, Calif. – Doug Hanzel had such a good experience at Kent State University that he decided to endow a golf scholarship in his honor.
“I’ve always been a big supporter of the program,” said the 53-year-old Savannah, Ga., resident, who carded a 3-under-par 68 in the first round of the 2010 USGA Men’s State Team Championship on Tuesday at Mayacama Golf Club. “The golf coach (Herb Page) who started there my senior year and is still there saw the handwriting on the wall. He wanted to endow all the scholarships to not put a burden on the school.”
Hanzel’s 22-year-old son, Drew, just graduated from Kent State after spending four years on the golf team. His daughter, Katie, also graduated from Kent State and Hanzel met his wife, Nancy, there.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Hanzel decided to move south to chase better weather, not more golf. He actually gave up competitive golf for 15 years while going through four years of medical school, five years of residency and fellowship and six more years to establish his practice. He specializes in pulmonary critical care, using fiber optics to diagnose cancer.
Since becoming a successful physician, Hanzel has become more active in the game. In recent years, he has advanced to the round of 32 at the 2006 U.S. Mid-Amateur and played on the 2005 Georgia Men’s State Team.
“I work a lot,” he said. “I play two or sometimes three times a week in the summer when we have longer light. I play as many events as I can, mostly within the state. I finished third at the state amateur this year after leading through three rounds. Two college kids beat me. I was 10th in the [Georgia] Mid-Am and was low amateur in the state open.”
Now he’s hoping to help Georgia to its first MST title. The Georgia women have won two Women’s State Team titles, including last year at Sycamore Hills C.C. in Fort Wayne, Ind.
“There’s a lot of good amateurs in Georgia and I am honored to be on the team,” said Hanzel. “I know last year they were close and [teammate] David [Noll Jr.] really wants to win.”
In 2007 at The Club at Carlton Woods, Georgia had two players lip out at No. 18 to finish second by a stroke behind host Texas.
“[This championship] means a lot to us,” said Noll, competing in his fifth consecutive MST. “It means a lot to our state and we are trying very hard.”
Relating Golf To Pitching
Erik Hanson, who spent 10 years in the major leagues with four different teams, says playing competitive golf is a lot like pitching at the elite level.
“Pitching is one pitch at a time, one out at a time, one inning at a time,” said the 45-year-old Hanson, a 6-foot-7 right-hander who went 15-5 for the Boston Red Sox in 1995 and earned a spot in the All-Star Game. “You can’t think about facing [St. Louis Cardinals slugger] Albert Pujols three batters from now because the next think you know, you’ll be facing him with men on base.
“[In competitive golf], you have to take it one shot at a time. You can’t get ahead of yourself. You can’t let what just happened affect what happens on your next shot.”
Hanson, a Kirkland, Wash., resident, opened the MST with a 2-under-par 69 to give Washington a share of the first-round lead in the 54-hole competition that was delayed one hour due to fog.
Hanson enjoys the competitive aspect of golf and has progressively improved his game on a national level. He just qualified for his second consecutive U.S. Mid-Amateur – he’ll tee it up at Atlantic Golf Club later this month – and a few years ago he advanced to the sectional round of U.S. Open qualifying. He is representing Washington at this event for a fifth time.
He also has played in other high-level amateur events such as the Sahalee Players (he’s a member at Sahalee C.C. in Sammamish, Wash.) and the Pacific Coast Amateur.
“It’s really fun for me to play with guys that I am going to see on the [PGA] Tour in two or three years,” he said. “It’s like a fantasy league for me.”
Even if most of the players aren’t old enough to remember when people were drafting Hanson onto their Fantasy League teams.
“Most of the kids now were 2 years old and in diapers when I was playing,” he said with a laugh. “They don’t even remember that I was a pitcher. Usually they find out about the fifth or sixth hole.”
David Shefter is a USGA communications staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.