Danny Green figured when he turned 55, tournaments on the Tennessee senior golf circuit might be more difficult for anybody else to win.
So far, he’s been right.
Green fired a five-under-par 67 Wednesday at Blackthorn Club to share the first-round lead of the Tennessee State Senior Amateur with Tim Dinwiddie.
“I’m the youngest and one of the better players, so I know if I play my game, a lot of these guys are gonna have a hard time beating me,” said Green, who turned 55 in January and was co-champion at the rain-shortened Tennessee Senior Open earlier this year.
It’s not just talk when it’s coming from Green. The former college tennis player from Jackson is one of the most successful amateur golfers in Tennessee history, having won three State Amateur titles, four Mid-Amateurs, and two Four-Balls. He’s made the finals of three USGA events, winning the U.S. Mid-Amateur, and has played in the Masters twice. He’s been the Tennessee amateur golfer of the year a record 10 times and is already in the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame.
Dinwiddie’s resume’ isn’t nearly as impressive — few are — but the 56-year-old from Afton did something on Wednesday that nobody else could. He put together a bogey-free round on the demanding Blackthorn course.
“I’ve never played this golf course good,” Dinwiddie said. “I came in thinking this was gonna be hard. Today was just a good day, but there’s a lot of golf left.
“It felt great. Out here, it’s so hard. The blind shots and the way the greens roll out with chip shots ... If you don’t hit the green, it’s difficult to get the ball to stop when you’re chipping.”
Dinwiddie, who won the senior division in the Tillinghast Invitational at Johnson City Country Club in June, didn’t miss many greens, but when he did, his putter bailed him out. He made two par putts of longer than 10 feet to keep his round going.
“That’s what you have to do to shoot like that,” he said. “All summer long I’ve hit the ball well. I just moved the ball back in my stance when I’m putting. My buddy’s been telling me all year to do it and I finally did it and I putted good.”
Green had seven birdies — including a 25-foot putt on the 18th — to offset his two bogeys, one of which came at the short par-four second hole, which he called the one of the easiest on the course.
“I tried to just keep the ball in front of me,” Green said. “I didn’t get too upset when I made a bogey. I played here in the Mid-Am before and I know from the distance we’re playing, there’s gonna be a lot of birdies out here.”
Germantown’s Larry Dupree, who won the State Senior Match Play title earlier this year, shot 71 and was in third after the first round. Barry Klinikowski of Mt. Juliet shot 72. Joe Butt and Larry McGill were at 73.
Ronnie Law of Chattanooga grabbed a three-shot lead in the Super Senior division with a 70. Mike Nixon and Ron Kilgore both shot 73.
The field was smaller than expected because nearly 20 out-of-town players withdrew after registering when they learned how much many local hotels jacked up their prices because it was race week at Bristol Motor Speedway.