Mike McCoy is a career amateur who’s an old pro in USGA championships.
The Des Moines insurance man is playing in his 36th national golf tournament at this week’s U.S. Senior Open at Omaha Country Club.
He got into the Senior Open in his first year of eligibility.
“You turn 50 and have something like this happen it to you, it’s good,” McCoy said. “It’s one of the few perks of getting older.”
On the Nebraska side of the Missouri River, his might not be a familiar name. But in Iowa, he’s a local legend.
He’s played in 13 U.S. Amateurs, 14 U.S. Mid-Amateurs (for players 25 and older) with semifinal appearances in 2005 and 2008. He’s played in six State Team Championships and two Amateur Public Links events.
The experience of playing courses set up for United States Golf Association events will offset being an amateur playing against the best senior tour pros in the world.
“I haven’t played a lot of golf against this caliber of field,” McCoy said, “but at least the golf course won’t be a surprise.”
A good week for McCoy would enhance his chances of satisfying another career goal: making the Walker Cup amateur matches between the United States and Great Britain. He is considered a contender for one of the two spots available to players 25 and older. The matches are in September at the National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y.
“I’ve been chasing it for 20 years, so I guess this is my farewell tour as it relates to that,” he said. “That would be a bonus to play well and have something positive there. I try not to think about it. All you can do is try to play golf.”
McCoy has some Nebraska ties. For the past five or six years, his instructor has been former tour pro Tom Sieckmann at OCC.
“He’s obviously a marvelous teacher and instructor, and he’s been out there and done it,” McCoy said. “He’s really helpful not just with technique. He’s taught me a lot of shots and how to assess situations from a player’s mentality. I think the world of Tom. He’s a top-shelf guy.”
Patrick Duffy, the tournament’s general chairman, also is one of McCoy’s golfing friends.
“He’s so humble, but you know he’s the smartest guy in the room. Just a good person,” McCoy said. “We’ve developed a really nice friendship, and obviously he’s done a very nice job leading the effort here.”
McCoy remembers well the last Senior Open held in either state, the 1999 tournament at Des Moines Golf and Country Club. As a USGA committeeman, he was a starter during the practice rounds.
“Des Moines always has been the measuring stick (for the Senior Open),” he said, “but in a lot of respects, from what I understand, Omaha has eclipsed it.
“It’s a beautiful golf course, wonderful club. Tremendous community support. I can’t say enough about the whole atmosphere they’ve created here.”