Rusty Strawn of McDonough said amateur golf enables him to test his limits.
“I enjoy the journey of getting better,” he said. “I enjoy the preparation, the practicing, the physical conditioning. I enjoy what it takes every day to compete on a national level.”
Strawn, 59, won the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship, held August 27 to September 1 at The Kittansett Club in Marion, Mass. The annual event is one of 14 national tournaments by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are for amateur golfers.
“Over 2,500 tried to qualify for the U.S. Amateur Championship, but only 156 actually qualified to go to the site,” said Strawn.
The Senior Amateur Championship is regarded as the pinnacle achievement for amateur golfers over age 55. Winning at the event, said Strawn, was “totally unexpected.”
“When you get to a national championship, the field is very strong,” he said. “You’re taking the best players from all over the world, and they’re all there to compete. Thinking you’re going to win it is naive.”
Two days after his victory, Strawn traveled north and played in the Canadian Senior Amateur Championship, September 6-9 at Red Deer Golf & Country Club in Alberta, Canada.
The Henry County native also triumphed at that event.
“With the Canadian [tournament]my confidence was very high,” said Strawn. “I continued playing for another week, and I was fortunate to win the Canadian as well.
“Obviously, winning national championships are the pinnacle of an amateur golfer’s career,” he continued. “I’ve been playing senior golf for four years. Winning two national championships is just unimaginable.”
Strawn is the chief executive officer of Strawn & Co. Insurance in McDonough. His affinity for golf began when he was a young boy. Strawn credits his father, Norman, as one of his early influences in the sport.
“It was just a great opportunity to spend time with my dad,” said Strawn. “He introduced me to the game. He taught me how to play – not only to be a good player, but to be a gentleman on the golf course.”
Strawn said he discovered he had an aptitude for the sport as a teenager, participating in junior golf tournaments.
“I was probably 14 or 15 years old,” he said. “I competed in Atlanta Junior Golf Association tournaments as well as Georgia State Golf Association events.
“I always enjoyed competition, and I always enjoyed the preparation for competition,” he added. “I had to keep myself in good physical condition. I had to be disciplined and keep a good work ethic, and I had to practice.”
Strawn acknowledged that when he was growing up, he aspired to be a pro golfer However, he said, his pursuits in the sport took a different turn while he was in college.
“I realized when I played golf at Georgia Southern University, I may not have the talent and the skill set to play golf at a professional level,” said Strawn.
His first major victory came in 1993, at the Georgia State Golf Association’s Mid-Amateur Championship.
“It’s just an opportunity to measure yourself against other very good players,” he said.
Strawn said his wife, Jennifer, has been instrumental in his amateur golf success.
“She has been a real supporter of my golf ever since we got married,” he said. “She’s my greatest asset.”
The Strawns have three daughters – McKenzie, 30; Taylor, 28, and Anna, 24. Jennifer Strawn said her family is proud of her husband’s golf accolades.
“He’s played his whole life, and he’s always loved playing golf, but he particularly loves competitive golf,” said Jennifer Strawn, 59. “He’s extremely driven and very disciplined, and that along with his love for playing is what I believe has enabled him to experience the success that he has.
“I have watched him through the years, practice and practice,” she continued. “It was exciting to see his hard work come to fruition in two major tournaments.”
Rusty Strawn is set to compete in the Amateur Golf Alliance’s Concession Cup tournament November 14-18, in Sotogrande, Spain. For him, the opportunity to represent his country is the “chance of a lifetime.”
He said his amateur golf achievements are the result of hard work and discipline. He is hopeful that others – including amateur and professional athletes – will learn from his example.
“I just hope I can inspire others that not only play golf but other sports, to design a plan, be diligent, be disciplined and stick to that plan, and hopefully achieve success,” said Rusty Strawn.