Mike Gravley will tell you himself he is pushing the envelope. Just a few days short of 65 his best golf days may be fewer, but every once in awhile the ghost of games past can take over.
Gravley found something at the Country Club of Lexington during a practice round on Sunday. It made the difference in the score he posted in the qualifying tournament on Monday for a spot in the US Senior Amateur.
“I was playing with Todd Webber and after we finished I told him I found something,” said Gravley. “I couldn’t tell him what it was, but I had something. I was just aiming it and hitting it,” he said.
Whatever he found, a shift in his grip, a flatter approach, a better set up or the fountain of youth it worked as Gravley was the medalist at the qualifying tournament.
Gravley shot a 66. He made 7 birdies and 1 bogey. Playing the back nine at Lexington first, he went out in 32 and came in at 34 for his 6-under par total.
“I had a game plan and I stuck to it. I used different clubs off the tee. I hit a 3-wood off par 5s because it was crucial to not make a mistake on those holes,” he said.
Joining Gravley as a qualifier was SCGA Senior Player of the Year Walter Todd from Laurens. Todd shot a 3-under par 69 for the fourth and final qualifying spot. North Carolina golfers Paul Jett and Steve Harwell finished 2-shots behind Gravley at 68 to also qualify.
“Shows you what kind of day it was, Steve Harwell, who also qualified, was a junior when I was a pro at a club in Columbia. Now we both will be playing in the Senior,” Gravley chuckled.
The list of golfers attempting to earn a spot in the national championship to be played at Old Chatham Country Club in Durham, North Carolina on August 24 to August 29 was impressive. Gravley finished in front of a lot of golfers with outstanding resumes.
“When I posted the score I thought it would be low. Looking at the other players trying to qualify this was a pretty strong field. I knew a lot of the guys and I had a great day. It was a lot of fun,” he said.
Gravley owns four Greenville County Amateur titles and two Spartanburg County titles. He has a couple of handfuls of local wins in other events. He shares two SCGA Senior Four-Ball titles and a CGA Senior Four-Ball championship with different partners.
He has played in five national championship tournaments. He played in two Club Pro championships back when he was a professional and this will be his third trip to the USGA Senior.
“When I left home I told my wife if I didn’t qualify this was going to be my last try. I’m going to go up to Old Chatham and have a great time, I don’t know if I will ever have another chance,” concluded Gravley.