Greg Reynolds doesn’t feel or act old. At 65 he is, in fact, one of the elder statesmen in the U.S. Senior Open field. This week will mark his seventh time playing in the championship, the first since 2007.
The 2002 USGA Senior Amateur champion is from nearby Grand Blanc, Mich., so in many ways this is a home game for him, as well as fellow amateur Randal Lewis, 55. Lewis, the 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion who hails from Alma, Mich., received a special exemption into the field from the USGA.
How Reynolds got into the field was something of a minor miracle, he said, because he earned one of the two spots available out of 84 players trying to qualify at Radrick Farms in Ann Arbor, Mich.
"With this championship being on home turf, I thought we would end up with more than two spots," said Reynolds between practice-round shots on Tuesday at Indianwood Golf and Country Club.
If players got into the field based on accolades, Reynolds might lead the list. The lifelong amateur’s resume is decorated with tributes and three hall of fame inductions: the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, the National Senior Golf Hall of Fame and the Flint Golf Hall of Fame. Reynolds is well known to the USGA, having competed in 39 of its championships entering this week. He counts two USGA moments as his favorite golf memories. The first was when he knocked off good friend Mark Bemowski to win the 2002 USGA Senior Amateur Championship at Timuquana Country Club in Jacksonville, Fla. The second was when he was part of Arnold Palmer’s group in The King’s final USGA championship, at the U.S. Senior Open in 2005 at NCR Country Club in Kettering, Ohio.
Reynolds admitted that come Thursday, the nerves will be churning. If you don’t get nervous, he said with a chuckle, there must be something wrong with you.
It seems that golf has defined Reynolds, who is a retired executive from General Motors. He won the 1982 and 1997 Michigan Stroke Play Championship, the 1983 and 1994 Michigan Mid-Amateur, as well as the 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1996 Michigan Tournament of Champions. He’s also a four-time Flint City Amateur champion. The only prominent event he hasn’t won is the Michigan State Amateur Championship. Reynolds reached the finals of the Michigan Amateur once, in 1986, and had a stretch of four straight appearances in the semifinals.
Four times he has been named the Golf Association of Michigan Senior Player of the Year. In 2002, he was named Golf Digest’s Senior Player of the Year.
Reynolds is proud of his golfing chops. In the last two weeks, he has shot his age twice. That didn’t surprise his 38-year-old son, Chris Reynolds, who is caddieing for his father this week. He’s on the bag this week because his supervisor at Lapeer Industries, Inc. told him that he could have the time off if his dad qualified.
Chris was asked what he admires most about his dad’s game.
"His ability to be this consistent this long, at 65, and maintain his health, that’s impressive," he said.
Chris helps Reynolds read putts and can spot a flaw in his dad’s swing. He’s been helping his father since he was 8 years old.
Reynolds makes no bones about his goal this week. He’d like to make the cut, something he’s only done once in six Senior Opens, and be low amateur. The key to both those goals, he said, will be finding fairways and greens.
"You have to drive it on the fairway here and you have to get it on the greens because this rough is so tough," he said while sweeping through it with a club as he walked. "It reminds me a lot of Oakmont Country Club’s rough."
It didn’t take long for word to get around that Reynolds qualified for the Senior Open. He will have friends and family coming to watch him from as far away as Iowa and Kansas. He said he ordered more than 20 passes for the week.
"It’s fun to have them here," he said with a wry smile, "especially if you play well."
Reynolds is hoping for the best, but he’s also going to take in the ambience of the championship.
"I’m 65 and this is the darndest thing," said Reynolds, "because you never know when you’ll play in your last championship."
Ken Klavon is the USGA’s online editor. Email him with questions or comments at email@example.com.