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Notebook: Roller Coaster for Sughrue on Picture-Perfect Hole September 22, 2016 | St. Louis, Mo. By Ron Driscoll, USGA

Matthew Sughrue fell short in the championship match at Old Warson, but the U.S. Senior Amateur site is still one he looks fondly upon. (USGA/Chris Keane)

U.S. Senior Amateur Home

Both U.S. Senior Amateur finalists came to Old Warson Country Club this week with fond memories of the club. Dave Ryan qualified for his first USGA championship there (the 1986 U.S. Amateur) and Matt Sughrue played in his first U.S. Mid-Amateur on the Robert Trent Jones Jr. layout in 1999. In fact, Sughrue has a memento from that championship on the wall in his office – an image of the par-4 14th hole.

No. 14 played a pivotal role in Ryan’s 2-up victory over Sughrue, because Sughrue’s 4-foot birdie putt spun almost completely around the hole and failed to drop, preserving Ryan’s 1-up lead after Sughrue had won the three previous holes. But Sughrue won’t take that memory from this week.

“I have good memories on that hole,” said Sughrue, of Arlington, Va., of the strategic par 4 that played as long as 369 yards and as short as 270 yards and features a greenside waterfall. “I made [eagle] 2 there from the fairway. I knocked it on the green another time and made 3 there. So I had really good memories. I'm going to like looking at that.”

And although he missed the cut in that 1999 Mid-Amateur by three strokes, Sughrue’s game was a good fit for testing Old Warson this week.

“This is a great golf course and it was a good one for me, because I hit it pretty long and it kind of rewarded me,” said Sughrue, who was playing in his first Senior Amateur at age 57. “I just love the golf course. I’m certainly going to look at that picture a little differently.”

  • Next Up for Sughrue: “I’ve been picked to a couple of teams, the Virginia/Carolina matches, which I’m looking forward to playing, at Kinloch [Golf Club, in Manakin-Sabot, Va.]. And I also got picked to the Mason Dixon team, which this year is at Five Farms, Baltimore Country Club. And what I’m really looking forward to is going away for a few days with my wife, Caroline, up to our new place on Nantucket. I can’t wait to sit on the beach with her and read a book and eat lobster.”

  • Although the second practice-round day last Friday was rained out, the championship proper was a rousing success, according to Greg Sanfilippo, the USGA’s Senior Amateur Championship director. “It was an absolutely fantastic week,” said Sanfilippo. “We couldn’t be more appreciative of Old Warson and the hospitality that they’ve shown to the players and to our championship committee. It takes a lot of work and a lot of effort from a lot of people to do what we do, and we couldn’t have done it without Old Warson.”

  • Curt Rohe, director of the Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association (MAGA), on St. Louis native Ellen Port’s victory Thursday in the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur at Wellesley (Mass.) Country Club: “On a day like today, when we’re crowning a U.S. Senior Amateur champion here at Old Warson, to have Ellen out in Massachusetts winning the U.S. Senior Women’s Am, we’re pretty proud of her. She’s just a remarkable woman who has done so much for golf in St. Louis.” Rohe noted one underappreciated aspect of Port’s seventh USGA championship: “I know the last two years, with her taking the job as head women’s golf coach at Washington University, she rarely gets to play any golf, so for her to go out and capture another USGA championship is pretty impressive.” Rohe is also proud of the role that MAGA plays in her success: “She’s a bulldog. They’ve seen it at the national level, but she prepares for a lot of those national events by playing in two or three of our men’s events. She’ll tee it up with the guys from their tees. That’s how she prepares in the summer, just to get some competition in.”

  • The 2017 U.S. Senior Amateur is scheduled for Aug. 26-31 at The Minikahda Club, in  Minneapolis, Minn., and the 2018 championship is scheduled for Aug. 25-30 at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club.

Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at

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