After putting competitive golf aside for more than a decade, Rusty Strawn, president of the Flint River Council, is making up for lost time.
Strawn, an Eagle Scout, recently earned titles at both the U.S. Senior Amateur tournament and the Canadian Senior Amateur just two weeks apart.
The two victories are a continuation of Strawn’s rise up the amateur golf rankings since he returned to competitive golf four years ago.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” he says.
Strawn, 59, won the U.S. title thanks to a 3-and-2 final-round match-play win. Just a couple of weeks later, Strawn stayed hot, winning the Canadian tournament with scores of 69, 71, 71 and 72 for a 5-under 283, three shots better than the runner-up.
As a Georgia high schooler in the 1980s, Strawn had a lot of success as a competitive golfer, earning the Atlanta Junior Golf Association’s player of the year award as a 17-year-old. His high school team finished runner-up in the state for three years running before winning the state title in Strawn’s senior year.
He earned a scholarship to Alexander City Junior College (now called Central Alabama Community College), where he helped their golf team finish second in the National Junior College Championship. He then moved on to Georgia Southern University, where he was all-conference in 1984 and 1985.
And as a young man in the early 1990s, he continued to play competitive golf, winning the 1993 Georgia State Golf Association mid-amateur championship.
Then, as he says, “life happened.”
Getting back into Scouting, and golf
Strawn married Jennifer, had three children and began spending more time on the family business, Strawn & Co. Insurance.
“I had to make a decision,” he says. “I could continue focusing on golf, or I could spend more time with my family, and work on growing my company.”
For the next decade-and-a-half or so, Strawn played golf as a hobby, but rarely in any competitive tournaments.
As his kids and company grew, Strawn says he started to feel the itch to reconnect with Scouting.
“I wanted to give something back to my community, and Scouts had always played an important role in my life,” he says. “I decided it was time to give back. I wanted to be a volunteer.”
As his kids neared adulthood, Strawn started thinking about a return to competitive golf, too. In his late 40s, he worked with a personal trainer, a mental coach and a swing coach, eyeing a run at the senior amateur circuit when he turned 55.
The preparation paid off, as Strawn earned first-place finishes in two tournaments in late 2020 and another six in early 2021. With his two most recent victories, Strawn now has 11 tournament wins.
A bright future
At the U.S. Senior Amateur, Strawn was assigned a caddie named Scott Fernandes who, by chance, just happened to be a fellow Eagle Scout and adult volunteer. Any guesses what the two talked about for the next four days?
“We talked a lot about Scouts,” says Strawn.
Strawn’s term as president ends next spring. He says he’s learned a ton about Scouting by working with the excellent volunteers and staff at the Flint River Council, and he says he’s excited about what Scouting has to offer the youth of both today and tomorrow.
“The Scout Oath and Scout Law is the foundation of my whole life,” he says. “We just need to make sure we continue to be true to the Oath and Law. I think we have blue skies ahead of us.
“I’m excited about the future of Scouting.”