As a 42-year-old amateur, Kenny Chavis was an anomaly at this week’s Indiana Open Championship.
Most of the guys Chavis’ age are club professionals. Most of the amateurs in the field are high school or college golfers.
But the 1990 Columbus East graduate has carved out his own niche on the competitive golf landscape. He’s a two-time Columbus city champ, a five-time Otter Creek club champ and finished fifth in 2012 Indiana Public Links at Shadowood.
The quality and depth of the field of golfers at the Indiana Open, however, was a little too tough for Chavis to overcome. He didn’t make the cut after shooting rounds of 77 and 74 Monday and Tuesday at Otter Creek.
“There’s not a whole lot of difference between being a pro and an amateur,” Chavis said. “Obviously, the pros do that to make money, but I’m just a regular guy with a factory job. I never did turn professional because I know I’m not good enough to compete with those guys.”
Chavis was playing in his second Indiana Open. He also missed the cut in 2012 at French Lick.
This year’s event started well enough for Chavis. He was 2-under-par through four holes Monday. But then back-to-back bogeys and a triple bogey took him out of contention.
“It’s a great field here,” Chavis said. “It’s a little bit of an honor to qualify and make it at my age and having a job, where most of these kids, all they do is play golf. There’s not many people left like me that play golf at this age and try to compete with the younger kids and the seasoned professionals, but I go out and try.”
Otter Creek is the home course of Chavis, along with five other golfers from Columbus who are playing in the Indiana Open.
“This is an awesome place, and I’m lucky that I get to play here all the time,” Chavis said.
“He’s been out here pretty much ever since I’ve been out here, and we’ve played a lot of golf together,” said Tyler Duncan, a serious contender for the title. “He’s a good player.”
Michael VanDeventer, who tied for medalist honors in leading Columbus North to the high school state title last month, agrees.
“He’s real consistent,” VanDeventer said. “He hits a lot of fairways and a lot of greens and when he gets it going with the putter, he can go really low. He’s a solid player all-around.”
But Chavis hinted that this might be his last Indiana Open.
“It’s about ready to come to an end, I think, as far as competitions like this,” Chavis said. “I have a little daughter at home, so practice time is limited. This is probably going to be my last go-round.”
Chavis, who works at Toyota, hasn’t been able to practice as much this year as he’d like. He said he may still play in the city tournaments because they’re fun, and possibly next year’s Indiana Amateur, which will be at Otter Creek.
“We’ll kind of have to wait and see how the rest of the year progresses and how things are at work,” Chavis said. “We’re really busy at work. I used to be able to come out almost every day after work and practice a good three to four hours. I worked hard at it.
“Then, not being able to put that time in really affects my game more mentally or physically,” he said. “So I’m not sure if I’m going to play in that next year or not. I might just shut down the big events after this one.”