U.S. SENIOR AMATEUR
Condon Scoring One for the Public-Links Grinders
August 26, 2018 | Eugene, Ore.
By Joey Flyntz, USGA
With his curly blond hair flowing out from underneath his hat in an act of defiance against his 56 years of age, accompanied by a thick mustache and black aviator shades, Greg Condon looks like a throwback from a bygone era. In some ways he is a bit old school, but the year is 2018 and few competitors are playing better golf at the moment.
The setting is the 64th U.S. Senior Amateur Championship at Eugene Country Club, but the 55-and-over crowd is playing a modern game amid a modern backdrop in a progressive college town. Through two rounds of stroke play on the pristine-green Robert Trent Jones Sr. layout, Condon shot 5-under-par 139 to pace the field and easily qualify for match play, beginning on Monday.
Admittedly, the U.S. Senior Amateur is a step up from what Condon is accustomed to playing at home in small-town Monte Vista, Colo., a community of 4,266 not far from the New Mexico border. Condon isn’t a member of a posh club who entertains clients during the day. Although he denies it, Condon in many ways is the embodiment of the true public-links golfer.
For many years, Condon primarily played at Monte Vista Golf Club, a nine-hole municipal course with a modest green fee, which is only open from May through September. He now primarily plays at Cattails Golf Course, an 18-hole public facility in Alamosa, Colo.
While it’s easy to think those restrictions would hinder his efforts in prestigious events on tough courses, the reality is opposite. Condon has played some of his best golf in the hardest situations. He advanced to the Round of 32 in the 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links at Soldier Hollow Golf Course in Midway, Utah, defeating 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur runner-up Chelso Barrett, 6 and 5, in the Round of 64 before nearly upending eventual champion T.J. Vogel – he of Monday qualifying fame on the PGA Tour this year – in the Round of 32. Condon also qualified for the 2016 U.S. Senior Open at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio – as evidenced by the Scioto polo shirt worn Sunday by Condon’s son and caddie, Luke – and last year advanced to U.S. Open sectional qualifying and competed in the U.S. Senior Amateur at The Minikahda Club in Minneapolis.
“I prepare just like anyone else does – a lot of chipping, putting, hitting balls,” said Condon.
However, that preparation has to wait until work is done for the day. Condon is a 9-to-5 manager at C&L Container Co. His schedule leaves time for about five to seven competitive events a year, mainly Sun Country Amateur Golf Association tournaments in nearby New Mexico. He has won a handful of Sun Country events, but his stroke-play performance this weekend is high on his list of accomplishments, if undetermined exactly where it will register in the end.
“This is high up there, but there’s so much golf left to play that it’s hard to say,” said Condon, whose 139 total was matched by 2018 U.S. Senior Open low amateur Jeff Wilson. “I just want to go out tomorrow and see what happens.”
Condon is able to stay competitively sharp through matches against Luke, whom Greg refers to as “the best caddie in the world.” Luke, a pro looking to regain his amateur status following a college career at Colorado Christian University, pushes his dad when they’re facing each other, but adds a sense of calm as a caddie and is a trusted reader of greens.
“I think I’ve helped him to stay at a level where he is still competitive,” said Luke.
No matter how this week ends for the Condons, Greg is clearly grateful for what has already transpired.
“This golf course is just fabulous. I don’t play on courses like this. It’s like a slice of heaven,” he said.
From heaven, it’s back to the reality of the 9-5 grind next week.
Joey Flyntz is an associate writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.