Ranked atop the Golfweek rankings and a captain at Golfweek’s upcoming Senior Challenge Cup, Rusty Strawn is a force to be reckoned with on the senior amateur circuits.
Taught by his father, Strawn began playing at seven years old with a set of Chi-Chi Rodriguez golf clubs. He quickly fell in love with the game.
Growing into a pretty good player, Strawn played for Georgia Southern all throughout college. Although a solid player, Strawn opted to keep up with the family business.
Heading Strawn & Co. Insurance and growing a family, golf took a back seat.
“It was very, very difficult to juggle all three things,” Strawn said. “Obviously, if I wanted a healthy marriage and be the father to my kids that I thought I should be and want my company to grow, there was no way I could put the time and effort into golf that I would’ve needed to to compete at that (national) level.”
Although not playing on a national scale, Strawn kept his game in good enough shape to take home Georgia’s state mid-amateur title when he was 29 and followed it up with a runner-up finish the next year. It wasn’t until his late 40s that he decided to really work towards his dreams of competing on the biggest stages amateur golf has to offer.
“I didn’t want to wait until I was 55,” he said. “I wanted to start getting prepared for senior golf when I was five or six years before then. I was like ‘Ok, let’s see how good I can get.’”
With his kids in college and his company operating like a well-oiled machine, Strawn was finally able to begin chasing his dream.
“I wasn’t torn at the end of the day,” Strawn said. “Sometimes when I was playing golf early in my career I felt like I should’ve been home or I should’ve been at work. But I was really focused in my late 40s and early 50s about what I wanted to do.”
No one was a bigger supporter of Strawn’s dreams than his wife, Jennifer.
“She (Jennifer) played a big part in that,” recalled Strawn. “She really encouraged me and said ‘Hey you know what, you’ve got this last shot to compete.'”
With his wife pushing him and his willingness to put in the work, Strawn blossomed when he reached the senior amateur game. Not only did Strawn compete once he reached the senior amateur stage, he dominated.
Since 2020, Strawn has 12 wins topped by a win at the 2022 U.S. Senior Amateur.
Winning the crown jewel of senior amateur golf is not lost on Strawn. But the win is more than just claiming the Frederick L. Dold trophy — it’s what comes with it.
“I’m very appreciative of the trophy I’ve got and the gold medal and everything but I tell you, that 10-year exemption into the senior amateur is the number one prize you win when you win a USGA event,” said Strawn.
With a USGA crown under his belt, four individual wins, a team win at the East West Matches and a trip to the Concession Cup in Spain, Strawn will close out a career year as a captain at the Golfweek Senior Challenge Cup.
Although winning is preferred, Strawn’s favorite part of being a part of a team? The friendships.
“I love the camaraderie. It reminds me of college golf,” Strawn said. “Sharing those opportunities, the victories and even the defeats together, that’s what I really like about team events.”
Strawn will be facing off against former Golfweek Player of the Year, and good friend, Craig Hurlbert, and his team at the Challenge Cup. The event takes place at Reunion Resort, a Jack Nicklaus design, in Kissimmee, Florida, Dec. 14-16.