White thrives on challenges despite age

At 49, Todd White has reached the age most golfers looking longingly at the lesser competition in the senior ranks.

But White walks to a different drummer.

He still challenges the college-age golfers, whom, he said, “set the standard for the amateur game.”

He challenges them well enough to have earned the SCGA’s Player of the Year award for 2016, his fifth overall and fourth in the past six years. He challenges them well enough, too, to harbor realistic hopes of capturing a berth on the 2017 U.S. Walker Cup team.

“I know my competitive window is closing a bit,” said White, an instructor at Spartanburg High. “But a chance to get one of the spots the USGA reserves for mid-amateurs on the Walker Cup team is the reason I continue to try to upgrade my game. The Walker Cup is the greatest event in amateur golf, maybe all of golf.”

He knows about the Walker Cup, a competition between teams from the U.S. and Great Britain-Ireland, from experience. He helped the U.S. win the prize in 2013 and longs for another opportunity.

To that end, White builds his schedule more around national events that feature stronger overall competition. He didn’t win a tournament in 2016, but he put together a strong resume that edged Clemson golfer Carson Young (Pendleton) for the SCGA’s player of the year title.

“I’d call it a solid year,” he said of the season that saw him qualify for match play in both the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Mid-Amateur. He made sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open and reached the round of 16 with Nathan Smith in the U.S. Four-Ball, a tournament the team won in 2015. Global Golf Post named him to the first team among mid-amateurs (players 25 and older) on its All-Amateur squads.

Closer to home, White tied for 13th in the Azalea (Charleston), tied for seventh in the Palmetto (Aiken) and shared third in the State Amateur (DeBordieu). Of the latter, he said and laughed, “If it were a horse race, they would say a ‘distant third.’ Carson and Andrew (Novak) played so well; they’re great college golfers.”

White teaches classes in U.S. Government at Spartanburg High and coaches the school’s boys golf team. His playing schedule will include most of the same events, beginning with the Jones Cup in February.

“My goal for 2017 is making the Walker Cup team,” he said. “If I do that, I know I will have played well. I have no desire to try to make the (PGA Tour’s) senior (Champions) tour. I just want to continue at a high level for as long as I can.”

Another player of the year award and the lofty goal for the new year suggest that he’s not slowing down. He still can more than hold his own against the young guns.

Chip shots

White and Walter Todd of Laurens, senior player of the year, will be honored on Golf Day, set for Jan. 14 at Columbia Country Club. The ceremony will include the induction of Steve Liebler of Irmo, two-time state Player of the Year, and the late Bob Boyd, legendary professional in the Carolinas, into the South Carolina Golf Hall of Fame. For ticket information, call the SCGA (803-732-9311.) … Myrtle Beach’s Mystical Golf will stage its 13th annual Christmas Child Golf Tournament over its Man-O-War and Wizard courses on Saturday. Proceeds benefit more than 650 children from the Carolinas and Georgia. Last year’s event raised more than $15,000, boosting the total donations since 2003 to almost $200,000. For information or to enter, contact Randy Broughton (843-236-8000 or … At Greenville CC’s Riverside Course, the team representing Inman’s Woodfin Ridge GC won the SCJGA’s Morgan Lucas tourney for the third straight year. Trent Phillips led the Woodfin Ridge squad.