After seeing son win three USGA titles, dad gets his first crack at one September 8, 2011 By Rich Conforti, USGA

Michael Moore (left) watched son Ryan win the 2004 U.S. Amateur at Winged Foot, his third USGA title. Now the elder Moore shoots for his own national championship at the 2011 USGA Senior Amateur. (Courtesy Michael Moore)

Following in the footsteps of one of the most storied amateur golfers in recent history is no small task, especially when that golfer happens to be your son. Michael Moore, father of PGA Tour golfer and three-time USGA champion Ryan Moore, will be doing just that as he competes in the USGA Senior Amateur at Kinloch Golf Club starting this weekend.

While this will be the elder Moore’s first national event, he has competed in several U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, U.S. Senior Open and USGA Senior Amateur qualifying events over the years.

I’m thrilled to be playing in this, absolutely thrilled, said Moore. I was a bit surprised when I qualified because I didn’t think the course played as tough as it scored. It must have been a lot tougher than I realized.

Unlike his son, Moore picked up the game at a late age after much of his early athletic life was focused on his baseball and bowling careers. A member of the Professional Bowlers Association for years, Michael competed with and against some of the game’s greats, including the man he calls the greatest of all time, Earl Anthony.

I’ve always had that competitive desire, I love sports and I love to compete, said Moore. I’ve bowled against some of the best to ever live and didn’t feel like I had to give up any ground. I competed the best I could and win or lose I’d shake their hand after the match.

Moore is the owner of The Classic Golf Club in Tacoma, Wash., the course where he helped Ryan grow into the player that he is today. The course, which was built under Moore’s watch in the late 1980s and opened in 1991, became a full-on family operation when the family became sole owners in 2005. Michael believes that the challenge that The Classic Golf Club provided to Ryan helped his son achieve great success at the amateur level. 

Growing up, Ryan would go to these big amateur events and hear guys talking about how challenging the course was, but to Ryan, they appeared to be wide-open and easy compared to his home track, said Moore.

It was around the time Ryan was 16 that Moore realized just how talented a golfer his son truly was. I was a 0 handicap at the time and Ryan was around the same. He was preparing for a big national event, so I made arrangements for us to play three [days] in a row at local country clubs. I shot one over, even and one under. I lost to Ryan by 24 strokes, said Moore. He shot 65, 64, 63 and didn’t even putt that great.

Michael recalls the summer of 2004, a historic three months in which Ryan won two USGA championships: the U.S. Amateur Public Links and the U.S. Amateur, as well as the NCAA Division I individual championship, the Sahalee Players Championship and helping the USA win the World Amateur Team Championship in Puerto Rico.

Ryan said to me, ‘I wonder if anyone has ever won the NCAA’s, the U.S. Amateur, the Amateur Public Links, the Western and the Sahalee all in one summer, said Moore. I think I’m going to try to get that.’ I told him, Okay, son, if you can conceive it you can do it, and he did just that. 

Moore attended  his son’s thrilling U.S. Amateur victory over Luke List at Winged Foot, when Ryan surged back from a late 2-down deficit to win, 2 up.  Michael remembered that, despite trailing for most of the match, Ryan carried a quiet confidence. 

Ryan’s mother and I were following him up the course after he teed off on the 27th hole. He looked back at his mom and said, ‘Mom, you look so nervous. I told you I am going to win, just relax and enjoy it,’ said Moore. It was quiet and wasn’t at all boastful.

As for his challenge this week, Moore will do the same thing that he has always told his kids to do over the years. Go and prepare the best you can; give it everything you’ve got so that you can look at the man in the mirror knowing you gave everything you had without letting attitude or emotions get in the way.

While Ryan will not make the trip to Virginia (he is getting married in several weeks and will also be preparing for the BMW Championship at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Lemont, Ill.), he has provided his father with the two men who serve as his caddies throughout the season: younger brother Jason, Ryan’s primary caddie, and childhood friend J.D. Rastovski. Jason will carry his father’s bag while J.D. will also help Moore throughout the week.

I felt kind of guilty taking both of his caddies, Moore said playfully.

No matter what happens this week, Michael already knows where he will be once the championship ends on Thursday.

I will be stopping in Chicago on the way home to see Ryan play, said Moore.  Back into the father role.

Rich Conforti is the USGA’s online intern. E-mail him at rconforti@usga.org.