Class of 2012
ONCE AND FOREVER AMATEUR CHAMPION
One fact stands out: Don Allen grew into adulthood and celebrity for his superior golfing ability a la Ben Hogan, without the benefit of professional instructors. Self taught and almost mystically skilled, he honed those skills in and around Rochester, New York making a serious reputation in local, district and regional events.
In 1961, Mr. Allen won the New York State Men’s Amateur Championship at match play by defeating three time defending champion, John Konsek by a margin of 5 & 4 at the Onondaga Country Club, in Syracuse, New York. This victory was very meaningful – Mr. Allen considered John Konsek the most talented golfer he had ever seen, an observation which he did not change over his entire career. Jack Nicklaus, a competitor of John’s in college, may well have agreed with Mr. Allen since he defeated Nicklaus three times in their collegiate competitions.
Donald Allen won the NYSGA Men’s Amateur Championship a total of six times. Three victories (1961, 1963 and 1964) came at match play. Three victories later came after the format was changed to stroke play (1970, 1972, 1973).
Almost unbelievably, Mr. Allen played on two Walkers Cup teams, two America’s Cup teams, made three Masters appearances as well as making the round of eight in the 1964 U.S. Amateur, and place third in the 1965 U.S. Amateur, and sixth in the 1966 U.S. Amateur. His Masters appearances took place in 1965, 1966, and 1967. It can be vociferously argued that this stretch of competitive amateur golf may well be the most dominant and impressive six year stretch in the history of American golf and in the history of amateur golf.
How did Mr. Allen describe himself in 1967? As a local insurance salesman. Imagine! That characterization is telling on at least three levels. Mr. Allen can safely call himself “local” – he is as local golf wise as Rochesterians Sam Urzetta, Walter Hagen and Robert Trent Jones – an imposing quartet for any community. On a second level, Mr. Allen has resolutely resided in Rochester his entire life. And finally the characterization reflects his personality, that of a gentleman, mostly gentle and unassuming, who doesn’t have to point out the number of golf dragons he has successfully outbattled.
The golf exploits really only began after 1967 for Mr. Allen on a sustained competitive level. He won the NYSGA Mid-Amateur Championship in 1985 and 1987. In 1994, 1996, and 1997, Mr. Allen won the NYSGA Men’s Senior Championship. In short, he displayed competitive success for an amateur champion for the ages. He is one of our greatest amateur champions with a community-oriented and giving personality, truly a once and forever amateur champion and human being, whose love for the game of golf continues through and includes 2012.
This resume is also bittersweet on a historical basis. Only twenty four years before Mr. Allen’s first NYSGA Men’s Amateur victory, Johnny Goodman won the U.S. Amateur in 1937, and became the last amateur to win both the U.S. Open (1933) and the U.S. Amateur. Some say the cultural and lifestyle changes brought about by World War II were responsible. Other argue the smell of money in professional golf was definitive. It was there but remember, Jack Nicklaus made $33.00 after making his first cut as a professional. So what was it? It always is the same thing – a matter of choice and many might agree that being one of the last truly great amateurs is not a bad choice at all. The New York State Golf Association wholeheartedly agrees.