Fall is Time for Crawford to Shine
October 12, 2017 | Atlanta, Ga.
By David Shefter, USGA
Tyler Crawford likes to say he lives a few hours east of Los Angeles. His hometown of Indio is one people don’t often visit, but the phrase often uttered on golf courses in the Coachella Valley is “every putt breaks toward Indio.”
It’s not far from better known locales such as Rancho Mirage, La Quinta, Palm Desert and Palm Springs, where streets are named after former U.S. presidents and celebrities, such as Dinah Shore and Bob Hope.
“I just say Palm Springs because [people] don’t know,” said the 44-year-old Memphis, Tenn., native, who still carries a southern accent. Crawford moved to the California desert from Austin, Texas, to manage a large lumber company before opening his own mortgage lending business five years ago.
“My wife is from Austin,” he continued, “so she had to go through [the change in locales] as well. Even after 16 years you are not all the way through it.
“It’s different, from the people to the weather to the type of golf you play. It’s been good, but it’s been different.”
Throughout the championship, Crawford has put Indio and himself into the competitive spotlight. On Wednesday at Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course, he made a combined 10 birdies over 25 holes on his way to winning two matches and reaching the quarterfinals of the 37th U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. He faces Mark Harrell, of Lookout Mountain, Ga., at 8:30 a.m. EDT on Thursday. It’s the furthest Crawford has advanced in six Mid-Amateur appearances.
“For most of us over 25 years old, this is our dream tournament,” said Crawford. “They treat you so good and the courses they pick are so [nice]. This is the one you want to be in.”
Crawford has always had competitive golf chops going back to his days as a Division I player at Mississippi State University, where he was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference performer in 1994. While at MSU, he often competed against the likes of Stewart Cink (Georgia Tech), Brian Gay (Florida), Chris Couch (Clemson) and Kris Cox (Oklahoma State), among others. But after graduating in 1995, he knew golf would not be a vocation. So he took a job in Austin before a prominent lumber company recruited him to California.
Golf, however, always remained a passion, only he stopped playing in the summer due to the triple-digit heat in the Coachella Valley. Three kids also keep him occupied.
“How much do I want to play?” said Crawford rhetorically. “I play a spring and fall schedule and just skip the summer. It’s just too hot. I don’t play in any big-boy amateur tournaments anymore. I’ll show up in July to try and qualify for a U.S. Am. It’s good to take time off. I’ve got three kids.”
So the Mid-Amateur, always contested in September or October, fits neatly into his competitive window. He first qualified in 2000 and ever since had made the field in odd years (2003, 2005, 2011, 2015 and 2017). He’ll be playing in an even year next fall because quarterfinalists are exempt from having to qualify.
But he’s got a bigger goal in mind now. Three more victories would get him a starting time in the 118th U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.
That championship is scheduled June 14-17 – a few days before the first official start of summer.
Crawford surely can slot that into his competitive calendar.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.