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Arlen Peacock’s Speech at State Am Breakfast of Champions
(Arlen Peacock, Utah State Amateur champion in 1972 and 1977, was one of the guest speakers at the 2012 State Am Breakfast of Champions at The Country Club. His remarks are reprinted here.)
I would like to welcome and congratulate all the players making it into match play today, all 32 of you. I’m grateful for this opportunity to share a few thoughts and ideas that helped me during State Am. competition
As I pulled into the parking lot this morning I couldn’t help but reflect back 35 years ago. I was preparing to play in an exhibition match with Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Don Branca, it was almost too good to be true. Winning the State Am for a second time was totally satisfying, but to have this opportunity to tee it up with these two greats was far and beyond my expectations. Why or how the Junior League was able to pull this off was truly amazing and then asking the State Amateur Champion to join them was another unexpected pleasure. There were so many special things that happened that fifth day of August 1977, that it would take another meeting to recant that wonderful day.
1. There are three things that I would like to touch upon today and they are:
(a) Honoring this great game and the Utah State Amateur.
(b) Preparation both mentally and physically.
(c) The important part that is played by the parents, family & friends.
2. I was extremely pleased when I heard that the 114th State Am. would be held at The Country Club. We should all express our thanks to the Board of Directors and Head Professional Ron Branca for allowing us to bring our event back to this great venue. This is a time when everyone needs to be respectful of this facility and use our very best manners.
3. We should be grateful to the UGA board of Directors and to our Executive Director Bill Walker and his staff. These tournaments could not function without them and all the volunteers, rules officials and maintenance crews who spend countless hours preparing the course. Having served on the UGA board for nine years I can appreciate all the preparation that goes into having this tournament be successful. I truly appreciated the opportunity to serve with Joe Watts, who is synonyms with Utah golf. Thanks Joe!
Being a good example on and off the course is the essence of good golf. We honor this great game by playing by the rules.
In lieu of time I won’t read from the Rules of Golf, THE SPIRIT OF THE GAME OF GOLF in Section 1, but would recommend you read this short paragraph and then adhere to the philosophy and meaning of this statement.
In the Spirit of the Game a word that is used is Integrity, meaning: Rigid adherence to a code of values, soundness and unity.
Another word I found to express this great game is Dignity meaning: Honor, Merit, Poise, Pride, Worth and Self Respect.
These two words not only give the game of Golf values to live by but will be an aide that will distinguish you throughout your lives.
Being Prepared both Physically and Mentally
Some players go to extremes getting prepared to play a major tournament such as the Utah State Amateur. Others approach it as just another tournament and I don’t see anything wrong with either approach.
I know for myself that when I won my first State Am, at the conclusion of the tournament I was physically exhausted. Getting up at 5 a.m., driving from SLC to Eden, hitting a small bucket, and playing two matches, returning home as late as 7 or 8 p.m., having dinner and getting to bed as early as possible, and then starting all over again at 5 a.m. It was grueling.
When you look at all the regional qualifying sites and the 36 hole medal play at the venue hosting the State Amateur it means you play a ton of golf in one week. Being prepared both mentally and physically has a lot to do with winning this great tournament. It certainly favors the younger players. All the veterans can do is use their skills and calmness against some of the younger players. I tried to be as aloof as possible and never showed or expressed dissatisfaction with an errant shot or an unlucky bounce of the ball. I always tried to stay calm and knew by experience that younger players have a tendency to lose control and that will cost them a chance to win a close match.
I would not have been playing Jay Don Blake in the finals at Logan G&CC if a young Weber State player had kept his cool. Vance Christiansen had me four down after eight holes, but on the 9th hole he hit an errant shot that really wasn’t all that bad, but he became infuriated and before he could get his composure back I won the next four holes to square the match and fortunately I was able to salvage that match with a birdie on the 18th hole winning 1-up.
One thing I did do prior to playing in the State Am in 1977 was to take two weeks off from golf before the tournament and get rested both physically and mentally, only spending a few minutes every other day chipping and putting, I didn’t hit my driver until two days before the qualifying round. I wanted to be hungry and anxious to play again.
I once heard that the more you practice the luckier you get. I was one that enjoyed practicing and had a good regimen and followed it closely. I remember that I felt to be a good player the game was won around greens so I spent hours chipping and putting. One can become so confident that you almost expect to chip in a good portion of the time.
Family and Friends
Is it settling or a hindrance to have a family member caddie for you or even to follow you around? My sons both knew golf etiquette and I preferred to have them caddie for me in both final matches.
Please bear with me as the next few sequences are about me and my own outlook so far as having family in attendance.
I was runner up in 1967 losing to a very good young college player by the name of T. C. or Tom Christensen and I learned a lot that year coping with the pressure of match play in a final match where a sizable gallery was on hand. I lost that final match 4 and 3 with both of us birdying the last hole.
In 1972 I was playing another good college player by the name of Steve Sharp in the finals. I had the advantage of being four and five up during most of the match, it wasn’t until the final nine holes that things began to change, by the time we finished the 32nd hole I was two down with four holes to play. As I walked to the tee of the 33rd hole I remember my father walking by and draping a damp, cool towel around my neck and saying “Arlen, you don’t want to be a runner up again do you?” The rest is history I won the last four holes to win my first State Amateur 2-up. Did my father’s influence have an effect on my play for those last four holes?
After winning my match and my first Utah State Amateur I wanted to call my wife and tell her that I had won, but back then there were no cell phones and trying to get a line at the club house was impossible so I headed home. Arriving home I called out to my wife, “have you got a kiss for the winner”? Her reply was unsettling when she asked “DID YOU BRING HIM HOME WITH YOU?
Everyone who enters this great tournament has aspirations to be a State Amateur champion. Finding the right karma and executing to perfection will put you on top, but how about those who haven’t found success and have competed to the best of their ability——well, they can take what they have learned and give it their best shot again next year.
I’m sure that you could ask any one of the former champions what this tournament means to them and they will say it is the most prestigious win of their career and I promise you that they can remember almost every shot, be it a good one or a bad one, in their final match. It takes a good year to have the win really soak in and to remember all the little things that it took to turn the tide your way. I know I was truly satisfied to have won my first State Am at 40 years old and then to have the good fortune to win it again at 45 was almost unbelievable. Yes, I know that many of you may never have that opportunity to say I was the Utah State Amateur Champion, but that is just how tough it really is and I know that each of you will be gunning to survive this marathon and win or lose you will be back again next year to give it another shot.
Right now I look at all of you and I can see 32 champions sitting in front of me this morning ready to play your first match, hungry to win and keep winning. Don’t let a minor disappointment or an errant shot take you out of play early in your match. Be determined to stay within your game and play as if this were your final match and if you don’t win, use that experience to make your game stronger next time around.
ONE LAST STORY
I’m reminded of a story of a young couple who gave birth to a son. They so much wanted him to rise above the norm—-and be something special, so they named him AMAZING, hoping that somehow he would live up to his name and do something great.
Actually he never did, in fact all that he did was rather mundane. He never really accomplished anything great. He married, lived on the family farm, raised a family, and was the brunt of many jokes because of his name.
One day he said to his wife, “When I die, please don’t put my name on the grave marker; maybe that will put an end to all the jokes”.
Later he died, and she was true to her promise, but thought there should be something inscribed. So she had them put, “here lies a man who loved and was faithful to his wife for sixty years.
And now people walk by and read the inscription, then point and say, THAT’S AMAZING.
Gentlemen good luck, have fun this is one of the greatest tournaments you will ever play in.