A two-man national golf championship is at stake and the pool of potential partners to assist in achieving that goal was practically bottomless.
Why would anyone limit themselves to someone who shares DNA? Because when the going gets tough – and it’s going to at the top level of competitive golf – there’s nobody who’s going to have your back like a father, son, brother, uncle or nephew.
And because that blood relation happens to be pretty darned good, too.
The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball debuts in May at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. Monday at Del Paso, 52 teams will vie for three qualifying berths. Doug and Tom Crowther, David and Tommy Deschler, and Dave and Josh Baskins are among them, excited for the opportunity to do something special as a family unit.
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Some teammates like to needle each other, some like to be supportive, but no matter what is said or done, they will be still related at the end of the day.
“He brings out the fun in me,” said Tom Crowther, 22, of his father, Doug, 58. “He’s not going to judge me. The only way I’m not going to choose my dad is if he’s working.”
Tom, who works in the pro shop at Ancil Hoffman, and Doug, a correctional officer, are big guys. Seeing them together, there’s no question they’re genetically related. Both hit the ball a long way, but Doug said his son’s short game is superior and he grinds harder.
The big benefit of competing together, Doug said, is the proximity.
“Watching his advancement over the years has been really fun,” Dad said. “Playing with him, I get to see his game up close.”
The Crowthers are from Sacramento. David and Tommy Deschler will come from Illinois, where the golf season has been over for two months. The brothers squeezed in nine holes last week when the temperature rose to an unusually high 52.
They warmed up their brother act over the phone Tuesday.
At 6-foot-3, Tommy, 25, is 4 inches taller than his “big” brother. David, 36, makes it clear he’s not impressed.
“He hits it 10, 20 yards past me off the tee,” David said. “I make more putts.”
Tommy said his role is to make birdies and keep things light. “David gets pretty negative when he’s not playing well.”
Tommy, a mechanical engineer in Chicago, and David, a prosecuting attorney two hours away in Champaign, plan to fly to California on Friday and play Half Moon Bay on Saturday and Pebble Beach on Sunday before heading to Sacramento.
“It’s a chance for us to hang out,” David said.
Josh Baskins, 23, said there’s pressure playing alongside his uncle because Dave Baskins, 61, has such a storied amateur career that includes qualifying for six United States Golf Association events.
“I want to make him proud,” said Josh, a graduate student at Nevada who made it to the round of 16 at this year’s U.S. Amateur Public Links, the championship the Four-Ball event replaced on the USGA schedule. “Make the Baskins name successful in the tournament.”
What Josh has is the knowledge that Uncle Dave initiated the union.
“He called me pretty early and wanted me to commit,” Josh said. “He threatened me, saying there were a lot of other people he could ask. He doesn’t think I’m smart enough to know he really wants me.”
Dave, a Sacramento financial adviser, admits he suggested the partnership.
“He’s 23 and hits it significantly farther than I do,” Dave said. “I’m going to ride it as long as I can.”
Length off the tee, however, is not what appeals most to Dave about his nephew.
“Neither of us cares who makes the birdie,” Dave said. “Some guys, they want you there, but they really want to be the whole deal. Our alpha just presents itself in the day. That’s what makes a good team.”
Also in the field:
▪ Drew Olson, second-leading passer in UCLA football history, with David Renker.
▪ Sacramento restaurateur Mason Wong with Jon Jew.
Call The Bee’s Steve Pajak, (916) 326-5526.
U.S. Amateur Four-Ball qualifying
Who: 52 two-man teams playing 18 holes
When: Monday, tee times 9 to 11 a.m.
Where: Del Paso Country Club (public welcome)
At stake: Three berths in the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball on May 2-6 at the Olympic Club in San Francisco