A New Englander's Take on Golf
August 3, 2022
Allen Doyle walks the fairways with supporters of the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund in 2001, the same year he gifted an endowed scholarship as a way of saying thank you. Today, he is pained by a sense of greed that has seeped into the game he loves.

When you seek refuge from the insufferable noise coming from corners of the golf world that have lost their way, you turn to a man from whom honesty pours forth with the fury of Niagara Falls, a man who at 46 had the gumption to put his slap shot of a golf swing alongside the greatest phenom in the sport’s history and show a little something to Tiger Woods.

“We sort of left them there, dazed in the corner, bleeding from the nose with the towel thrown in,” Allen Doyle told Jaime Diaz, the esteemed golf writer at Sports Illustrated who was reporting from the 1994 Eisenhower Trophy in Versailles, France.

It wasn’t so much the 11-stroke U.S. team win or the four-stroke individual triumph by Doyle that caught Diaz’ fancy; it was how Doyle and 42-year-old John Harris schooled Woods and Todd Demsey in a practice round match.

No one gushed more about the aura of Doyle than Woods, then 18. He marveled at Doyle’s “buggy-whip swing,” wrote Diaz, and “developed tremendous respect for Doyle’s fighting spirit.”

Woods would perhaps find comfort in knowing Doyle’s “fighting spirit” is still intact, as a call to him to talk about LIV Golf showed.

“I don’t think anybody is saying (players) don’t have a right to go and take the money,” said Doyle. “But when they try to defend it with all these altruistic reasons . . . no one is buying it. It’s greed.

“They say they’re not going for the money. That’s BS. They want to grow the game. That’s ludicrous.”

Mind you, Doyle was talking only minutes after his morning task – spraying the greens at The First Tee of Troup County near his home in LaGrange, Ga.

You want to talk about “growing the game?” At 74, Doyle was addressing root growth with the grass so that deserving children would have better greens on which to putt. Michelle Doyle is the Executive Director. Her father and mother (Kate) are on the board.

It's not in his job description, but Allen handles agronomy, too.

He is, after all, the man who had to fish balls out of a lake to supply customers at a makeshift driving range he opened, so he knows a thing or two about how golf isn’t available to all.

He is, after all, the man who fulfilled his ROTC duties by serving his country in South Korea, so he knows a thing or two about commitment.

He is, after all, the man who came out of nowhere to dominate the amateur golf scene in the 1980s and early 1990s and chose to turn pro at the improbable age of 46, so he knows a thing or two about overcoming long odds.

But where Doyle truly walks the walk is when he talks about knowing when enough is enough. He is, after all, the man who looked at a $1m bonus in 2001 and said he wouldn’t take it because, well, it didn’t feel right. His earnings that year on the PGA Tour Champions was $2.553m but he was well over $3m when you factored in endorsement deals and sponsorships.

“Now, I didn’t feel guilty, because I didn’t make the rules (about how much money they were playing for), I just played by them,” said Doyle. “But getting another $1m (for winning the Schwab Cup), I’m not saying it didn’t feel right, but it felt more right to give it away.”

Charities near to his heart benefited. He gave to his high school (Catholic Memorial), his college (Norwich Academy), his church in LaGrange, Habitat for Humanity, Literacy Volunteers of America, and most poignantly, Doyle donated to scholarships for children of firefighters and police officers killed in 9/11.

But he first pointed toward the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund because in his mind, that is where his life got jump-started. He was a caddie at Spring Valley CC, admittedly “not a great student,” yet a member who was active with the Ouimet, Mike Shuman, told Doyle to apply for the scholarship.

“I got $1,000, a quarter of my tuition,” said Doyle. “No way I get that scholarship without that guy pushing me. My grades weren’t great. But I was from a family of seven, and he knew I loved the game. I think he was saying, ‘This is exactly the type of kid who should get the scholarship.’

“That has stuck with me all my life. The game of golf is so much more than dollar amounts. It is the people you meet, the things you learn.”

Allen Doyle hasn’t forgotten from where he came and all those who helped him. He takes pride in that, just as he takes pride in succeeding in a game that demands of you a thirst for competition every time you tee it up. Giving up that passion for competition, he doesn’t understand it.

“But they worked all their lives to become relevant, but with this one decision they’ve made themselves irrelevant,” said Doyle. “They’ve immediately exposed themselves (as players) who can’t beat anybody, who don’t want to go back and work their asses off.”

Given that he is a military veteran and donated to 9/11 charities, Doyle is especially sensitive to where the LIV money comes from. Told that players don’t seem to be bothered by that, Doyle recalled his father.

“My dad told me that every day, a man has to look in the mirror, not once, but twice. In the morning, he looks at himself and asks, ‘What do I need to do today?’

“Then in the evening, he looks in the mirror and reports back. ‘Did I do the right things today?’ ”

No, Doyle was never in position to turn down $10m or $20m or more. But he took $1m that was his and gave it away and on other occasions he turned down $25,000 to $100,000 “because it wasn’t aligned with who I am and how I carry myself.”

He exudes honesty and never did Doyle duck around competition.

“I think there is a void in their hearts and stomachs that they can’t fill,” he said. “And in most cases, they never will fill it.”

Jim McCabe | August 3, 2022

Amateurs: The Western is under way

While defending champion Michael Thorbjornsen got off to a solid start – a 2-under 69 – and Amesbury’s Chris Francoeur posted one of nine 68s to seize a share of sixth place, a small parade of New Englanders has its work cut out for them at arguably the most grueling amateur championships in the country.

The Western Amateur starts with two rounds of stroke play and by the end of Wednesday will be trimmed to the low 44 and ties at Exmoor CC in Highland Park, Ill.

After Round 1, the cut at low 44 and ties falls at level par and only Francoeur and Thorbjornsen (from Wellesley) were inside of that.

Patrick Welch, the Oklahoma fifth-year senior who spent much of his childhood in Providence, opened with 1-over 72. Ben James of Milford, Conn., the top-ranked junior in the country, shot 73, while Cole Anderson of Camden, Maine, and Florida State, posted 74. Davis Chatfield of Attleboro and Caleb Manuel of Topsham, Maine, each recorded 77s.

Thursday, the low 44 and ties will play 36 holes, after which only the low 16 scores will get into match play. The Rounds of 16 and 8 will be contested Friday. The semifinals and final will be held Saturday.

Women amateurs: Alaska happening

Tracy Welch of Winchester and Pam Kuong of Wellesley Hills both earned spots into the match play portion of the U.S. Women’s Amateur. They had tied for 26th in medal play with aggregate totals of 157 for 36 holes at Anchorage Golf Course. In Round 1, Welch defeated Gigi Higgins of Florida, 2 and 1, but in the Round of 32 her run came to an end with a 2 and 1 loss to Sherry Wright of Oxnard, Calif. Welch led, 1 up, through 11, but lost the 12th, 15th, and 17thholes. Kuong was ousted, 1 up, by Sara Ingram of Nashville, Tenn., in the Round of 64. Christine Gagner of North Oxford shot 164 and did not make match play. With this visit to Alaska, the USGA has now conducted a championship in every state.

The championship trophies are positive proof that Susan and James Curtin make a formidable Mother-Son tandem.

Local: That’s 10, count ‘em, 10 

Last Friday, James Curtin did an admirable job as caddie, helping his mother, Susan, in the final 18 holes of the annual Ouimet Memorial Tournament at Woodland GC. Susan Curtis conceded it would have been easy to lose focus, but James wasn’t about to let that happen. All he had to do was remind her about what was on deck – the Mass Golf Mother-Son Championship. His efforts paid off twofold; Susan finished with a 77 at Woodland last Friday and the duo from Boston Golf Club and Norfolk GC combined for a 2-under 70 in the Modified Scotch format to win Division 2 (18-and-younger) at Acushnet River Valley. It is the 10th consecutive year that Susan and James have won their respective division in this annual competition. That’s some serious material for a grand trophy case at home. In Division 1, Judy and Will Frodigh (Dedham Country & Polo Club) shot a 70 to win.

I have a passion for playing golf that is surpassed only by my passion for writing about people who have a passion for playing golf, for working in golf, for living their lives around golf. Chasing the best professional golfers around the world for The Boston Globe, Golfweek Magazine, and the PGA Tour for more than 20 years was a blessing for which I’ll be eternally grateful. I’ve been left with precious memories of golf at its very best, but here is a takeaway that rates even more valuable – the game belongs to everyone who loves it. “Power Fades” is a weekly tribute with that in mind, a digital production to celebrate a game that many of us love. If you share a passion for golf, sign up down below for a free subscription and join the ride. And should you have suggestions, thoughts, critiques, or general comments, feel free to pass them along.

Cheers, Jim McCabe

jim@powerfades.com

1 – That’s his major

Wait till Charles Howell discovers that LIV Golf doesn’t stop in at Waialae CC.


2 – Sing the praises

Brown grass is beautiful.


3 – A European vacation

France for a week, Scotland for two, then another in Northern Ireland. You can book through a travel agent, of course. Or secure yourself an LPGA card.


4 – Overselling himself

Laughable, hearing it said that Brooks Koepka deserves to be paid like a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. Unless it’s Jim McMahon circa 1985-86. That might do. Brash, cocky. About $900,000 per season. Yeah, good fit.


5 – If you’re on time, you’re late

Proper arrival at the golf course is one hour before your tee time.


6 – Sounds funny, I know

A good shot with a bad swing is better than a bad shot with a good swing.


7 – Golf Fact 101

It’s impossible to two-putt from 35 feet when you’re thinking, “this is a three-putt coming up.”


8 – No wonder he joined LIV

Heard that Patrick Reed got millions and millions of dollars – plus five dozen transferrable plugged lies to use wherever.


9 – Either way, a format to embrace

Foursomes sounds way cooler than calling it alternate-shot.


 

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