Edmond, Oklahoma, is a bedroom community of 84,885 sun-baked souls according to the last census, and it sits in a part of America that isn’t noted for hospitable weather during the second week of July.
Not exactly a vacation destination. Unless, that is, you’re of a certain age and know your way around a set of golf clubs.
Quinn Griffing fits that description, which is why he’s not only headed to Edmond this week, but he’s actually been there before. Thirteen or so years ago – he thinks it was 2001, but don’t hold him to it – Griffing, 58, the teaching pro at Donald Ross Golf Club in Fort Wayne, played in a national club pro tournament at Oak Tree National in Edmond. Now he’s headed back to play for the first time in the U.S. Senior Open, which runs from Thursday to Sunday at Oak Tree.
If that’s an advantage, he’ll take it.
It’s a golf course where you’ve got to be precise off the tee, you’ve got to be patient, Griffing says. And obviously (this time of year), we’re going to play in wind conditions, we’re going to play in extreme heat. I think all that suits me really well, and I’m in good shape, so I’m looking forward to doing it.
And it’s not as if he’s a stranger to high-end events. Since turning pro in 1981, he’s won an Indiana Open, a couple of Indiana Senior PGA titles, and been named both the state PGA Player of the Year and the Senior Player of the Year. He’s played in the Senior Professional National Championship and, in 2004, the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
He credits Gary Hallberg, a high school teammate who became a first-team All-American at Wake Forest and a PGA touring pro, for putting him on the path to first Eastern New Mexico University, then to all that has come since.
He really got me into the game, Griffing says.
And everything the game has taught him, he intends to put to good use this week against a field that includes the likes of Hale Irwin, Peter Jacobsen, Vijay Singh, Tom Kite, Bernhard Langer and 2013 champion Kenny Perry.
Obviously, there’s no substitute for experience, says Griffing, who shot a 68 at Brickyard Crossing to qualify for the Senior Open. So I’m going to use that background going into this tournament. The preparation and the natural fortitude of playing in other tournaments will play a huge part going into this week.
As will the guy on his bag, an Indiana University golfer and Griffing student named Andrew Havill. As will Griffing’s own game, which is long on all the qualities Oak Tree National figures to summon forth this week.
At the present time, my short game’s really solid right now, Griffing says. I’m driving the ball really well. And I’ve always felt my intestinal fortitude was always the 15th club in the bag.
I’m really patient. I don’t ever try to force things. I let things come at me, and I react accordingly.
Rain or shine. Heat, wind or whatever comes.