Richmond, Texas — Trey Wilkinson did not need long after shooting an opening-round 77 at the 31st U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship on Saturday at Shadow Hawk Golf Club to calculate what he might need to shoot in Sunday's second round.
Then again, the 42-year-old Wilkinson has always been a guy who has loved statistics.
"I try not to look at a number, but I am human," said the Houston resident prior to his second of two stroke-play qualifying rounds that was scheduled Sunday afternoon prior to a weather delay. "It's hard for me to play in one of these things and not focus on a number, because you would hate to focus on the wrong number. I've also played enough golf to know that when you try and force it, it usually doesn't happen."
In qualifying for the 2002 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, Wilkinson shot a 6-under 66 at The Houstonian Golf and Country Club, the companion stroke-play qualifying course that Wilkinson was to have played on Sunday.
That was nine years ago and it’s a much tougher and longer course, he admits.
Wilkinson is president and CEO of newly formed Trinity Legacy Partners, a portfolio management company, but he is a numbers man at heart.
While Wilkinson chose not to follow his father’s footsteps as a certified public accountant, he did keep statistical calculations in an attempt to figure out why certain teams were better than others. Wilkinson took those figures and devised his own power rankings.
That passion carried over to his post-college endeavors when he began working on stat crews at University of Houston football and basketball games.
What's always been interesting to me is not what the numbers say, said Wilkinson, but what they mean."
For example, in Saturday's round of 77, Wilkinson figures he hit 11 of 14 fairways, 12 of 18 greens in regulation and totaled 32 putts. The 32 was the difference maker as Wilkinson said he averages nearly 27 putts per round, and "if I do that, I shoot 72 and I give myself a better opportunity."
Wilkinson has been Texas forever. He was born in San Antonio, attended the University of Houston on a combination academic/golf scholarship, worked in Dallas briefly and is now settled in Houston.
Wilkinson’s contribution to the Cougars' golf team, which featured European Tour standout Anders Hansen late in his four years, from 1988-92 was my grade-point average and the fact that I graduated on time," he jokes.
From 1994-96, Wilkinson worked in the Houston Astros' front office. Though he was recruited to be an official scorer in 1997, he did not say yes until asked again when the Astros moved into their current home, Minute Maid Ballpark.
In today's numbers-driven Moneyball era of baseball, "as an official scorer, I am intimately aware that when I make a hit or error call, which leads to whether a run is earned or unearned, it doesn't determine who wins or loses a game, but it does determine things when it comes time to determine contracts and negotiations."
Wilkinson says there are occasions when a manager questions him about a specific scoring decision, and he has been known to change the call within the 24-hour window.
Wilkinson also is on the stat crews for the University of Houston home football and basketball games, along with the NBA’s Houston Rockets, where he assists play-by-play announcer Bill Worrell and analyst Clyde Drexler.
It's my job to give Bill numbers to tell the listeners what's going on in the game, why are the Rockets winning or losing, he said. Again, not so much of what they are, but what do they mean. And it lends itself to the game within the game."
Why does he do it?
You feel like you’re part of something, he said. For the Astros, in particular, I do enjoy baseball and you feel like you’re part of the fabric of the game at some level because you’re doing the official numbers that go to the officer register.
For the University of Houston, I do it because I’ve got a great seat and have been around those guys for so long. We have a great sense of camaraderie. But I also love the game.
Golf, which Wilkinson learned from his father (a scratch player), is closest to his sporting heart.
It will expose you and leave you to die on the course, but it will also lead you to some of the greatest memories and experiences you will ever have, said Wilkinson, who was married to his wife, Kimberly, in St. Andrews, Scotland, and celebrated his 40th birthday and his father’s 70th birthday with a round at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Golf is an addiction. I always ask why do I put myself in these cauldrons where you challenge yourself. I love competing and I love being around the other players and the overall challenge of the game. You’re battling yourself, and the game wins more often than you do.
Trust him, the numbers do not lie.
Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work has appeared previously on USGA championship websites.