The City of Aiken Amateur Golf Championship has been played four times, but only one name has appeared atop the super senior leaderboard at the end of the event: Dick Korzen.
At the age of 75, the significance of being able to play at a competitive level isn't lost on Korzen, whose 2013 score (70-71—141) would have been good enough to win any division except the men's championship flight.
“It's interesting to be able to repeat and come back out and play as well as you did last year,” he said.
Korzen, formerly an elementary school principle in the Chicago suburbs, moved to Aiken 12 years ago. Then living in Indiana, he and his wife, Janet, were in Florida for a senior amateur event in 2001 and had been looking for a new place to call home.
Janet discovered Cedar Creek in her research, and eventually the couple found Woodside Plantation.
“I played (at Woodside), and I said, 'This is the place I want to be,'” said Korzen, the 1995 Illinois Senior Amateur champion.
What drew him to the Aiken area and Woodside in particular was the competitive atmosphere, even among the senior community. He said he consistently plays with a group of 20 or 25 men close to his age.
“No. 1, I think it's a very active group of people that I associate with,” he said.
Because of that, he doesn't think his path to the super senior title will be any easier this year, depending on which of his counterparts enters the field.
“It'll be more difficult this year, I think,” he said.
Aside from the competition at the senior level, Korzen pointed to the grass most commonly on the greens as the biggest difference between his former home and Aiken. The transition from bent grass greens of the Chicago area to Bermuda required adjustment, but it's a process he won't be doing in reverse.
“Bermuda grass is quite different than bent grass in the North,” he said. “I wouldn't have ever thought I'd be in South Carolina, but I'd never go back.”
Korzen also lauded the Aiken Golf Club's status as the only home so far for the tournament. He said the club has a “tremendous amount of history, a unique layout, with greens being very difficult,” and he pointed to the third hole as the toughest test on the track.
The 402-yard par 4 is, in fact, the most difficult hole according to handicap, and it is tight at every juncture. The fairway doesn't provide much landing area, and the green is protected by a small marsh on one side.
“Tough driving hole and not an easy shot coming in,” Korzen said.
Overall, he's pleased with what he's seen as far as improvements at the Aiken Golf Club over the last 12 years. Owner Jim McNair Jr. has revitalized the course and is attempting to do the same at his new property, Cedar Creek.
“In looking at it in past years, what he has done is phenomenal,” Korzen said of McNair's work at Aiken Golf Club.
With this year's tournament on the calendar for Sept. 6 and 7, Korzen made it clear he intends to play the event for the foreseeable future. He also has every intention of defending his undefeated run of City Amateur titles as best he can.
“I don't know how long it'll last,” he said. “I'm trying to hang on as long as I can.”
And even though he's never been beaten at the current super senior level, which includes golfers 65 and older, Korzen jokingly suggested another division for competitors.
“I'm hoping they go to a super, super seniors (division),” he said with a laugh.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University. Follow him on Twitter @ASJTimm.
At a glance
WHAT: 5th Annual City of Aiken Amateur Golf Championship
WHEN: Sept. 6 and 7, with social and putting contest on Sept. 5
WHERE: Aiken Golf Club
COST: $80 entry fee includes practice round, catered social, putting championship and two competitive rounds
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call the golf shop at 803-649-6029