Hole in one: AEDC team member Jay Potter claims spot in U.S. Senior Open

  • Published
  • By Kali Bradford
  • AEDC Public Affairs

Arnold Engineering Development Complex employee Jay Potter is getting a shot at the chance of lifetime.

Potter has qualified and will be competing in the 44th U.S. Senior Open Championship in Newport, Rhode Island.

An amateur golfer who has been playing the game for almost 40 years, Potter earned his spot in the tournament by shooting a 4-under 68 in a qualifying event in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Potter was only among one other from the championship, Eric Axley, to earn a spot into the championship.

“I’m excited but also nervous,” said Potter. “These guys play for a living and I’m just a guy who plays on the weekend. But I happened to qualify, and I thought, ‘Why not do it?’”

Around the age of 16, Potter said his interest in golf was peaked thanks to a few friends who played and had a talent in the sport. Since that time, his love for the sport has continued to grow along with his skill. While “just a weekend player,” Potter has worked diligently over the years to hone his skill on the course. During that time, he has also worked to qualify for several golf tournaments.

“I’ve tried over the years to qualify for USGA (United States Golf Association) events as I improved my game,” Potter explained. “From my mid-20’s on, I would try to qualify. There is the U.S. Amateur for under 25 years of age, the U.S. Mid-Amateur where you have to be 25 years and older, then there is the US Senior Open, for those of us over 50. Since I’ve turned 50, I’ve tried to qualify for that and, now at 55, I’ve made it.”

Potter will compete alongside both amateurs and professionals June 27-30.

“For the first two days, we will be playing to make the cut,” he explained. “A 156-man field will go down to around 60 or 70. Those remaining will play Saturday and Sunday.”

The championship will be played for the first time at Newport Country Club. The club is one of the five founding clubs of the USGA, joining Shinnecock Hills, St. Andrew's Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., Chicago Golf Club and The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

Already on his way to Rhode Island to prepare for the tournament’s kickoff on Thursday, Potter said his wife, Gail, will accompany him for both moral support and possibly some light coaching and caddying as she is an avid golfer herself.

While the dream is to beat out those competing, Potter said he is appreciative for the adventure and hopes to be able to go as far as he can in the championship.

“My goal is to make the cut,” Potter said. “I would love to make the cut. Golf is just enjoyable. What sport can you be in your 50’s and be able to compete for a national championship.”

Television coverage of the championship will be available via Peacock, Gold Channel and NBC.