Story and photos By Murray Evans
OKLAHOMA CITY – After a career in golf, which included time as a club pro in Boca Raton, Fla., Todd Raffensperger was burned out on the sport. He moved back to his home state of Oklahoma and took a couple of years away from the game.
“I just didn’t play any golf at all. I didn’t want any part of it,” he said.
But soon enough, the competitive bug bit again and Raffensperger did what was necessary to regain his amateur status. Since then, he’s become a force on the Oklahoma senior golf circuit, as evidenced by his performance Tuesday, when he outdueled Jon Valuck in a two-hole playoff to win the Oklahoma Golf Association Senior Stroke Play Championship at Quail Creek Golf and Country Club.
It was the first career OGA title for Raffensperger, who plays out of Battle Creek Golf Club in Broken Arrow and works as an Internet technology and network administrator and does training for a collection company.
Since his return to golf, the 57-year-old Raffensperger has enjoyed considerable success, winning club championships at Battle Creek, South Lakes Golf Course in Jenks and LaFortune Park Golf Course in Tulsa as well as a couple of Tulsa Golf Association events.
He began entering the OGA Senior Stroke Play event two years ago, finishing fifth in 2018 and fourth last year before his breakthrough Tuesday.
“The competition, I now enjoy it,” he said. “It’s just the battle. The trophy, that’s the fun part of it. It’s fun to get out with the guys. It’s camaraderie and friendly competition.”
He entered the day in a three-way tie for second at even par, two shots behind Valuck, an Oklahoma City cardiologist who won the OGA Senior Stroke Play title in 2017 at Shawnee Country Club and the OGA Senior Amateur Championship earlier this summer at Belmar Golf Club in Moore.
Raffensperger bogeyed the par-3 No. 2, but that was his only red number on the front nine. Birdies on the par-4 No. 10 and the par-3 No. 12 put him at 1-under for the round and the tournament.
Meanwhile Valuck stumbled ever so slightly. After an early birdie at No. 3, a bogey at the par-5 No. 8 reduced his lead to two shots. His tee shot on the par-5 No. 14 just missed the fairway and he never recovered, eventually missing an eight-foot par putt and putting him in a tie with Raffensperger.
At No. 15, Valuck’s tee shot went right and into a creek, leading to another bogey. Suddenly, Raffensperger – playing in the group in front of Valuck – was the leader.
“I watched behind me,” Raffensperger said. “While I was missing birdies, I was watching back … to see where I was, if I needed to jam one in somewhere and maybe take a risk. When I knew he’d had a little trouble, I kept it in play.”
Valuck hit his second shot on the par-5 No. 18 into a greenside bunker, but he was able to get up and down for a birdie – knocking it home from six feet – to force a playoff. Both players finished regulation at 143 (1-under) for the two-day event.
In the playoff, both parred No. 1, although Raffensperger had to sink a nervy six-footer for par, knowing Valuck had only a two-footer.
At No. 2, both had long putts. Raffensperger’s 35-footer ended up about 18 inches from the hole and he tapped in for par. From about 40 feet, Valuck putted to about five feet, and his par putt lipped out.
“I played pretty well for two days, just not quite well enough,” Valuck said. “I was proud that I was able to birdie 18 to tie. Getting up and down out of the sand was good and then I had a chance, but I just couldn’t pull it off.”
The OGA’s Super Senior Championship, played simultaneously with the Senior event, also had a dramatic finish. Three players – Jerry Nick of Okmulgee, Tim Rogers of Broken Arrow and Craig Collins of Enid – entered the final hole (No. 9) tied. Nick’s approach shot on the par-4 landed about four feet behind the hole and the resulting birdie capped a round of 3-over 75 and gave him the win.
Nick’s two-round score was 146 (2-over), one shot better than Rogers. It was the second straight year Nick won the Super Senior Championship with a birdie on the final hole. Asked if that made him a clutch player, he chuckled.
“I’m starting to believe I am,” said Nick, a retired dentist. “I never did think I was.”
2020 OGA Senior Stroke Play Championship
Monday, August 03, 2020 – Tuesday, August 04, 2020
Quail Creek Golf & Country Club
Todd Raffensperger, Broken Arrow – 72-71–143 (won playoff)
Jonathan Valuck, Oklahoma City – 70-73–143
Ron Roden, Oklahoma City – 74-71–145
Jeff Case, Norman – 73-75–148
Michael Hughett, Owasso – 77-72–149
Jeff Richter, Edmond – 75-75–150
Brian Szymanski, Oklahoma City – 72-79–151
Don Cochran, Norman – 72-80–152
Kirk Wright, Oklahoma City – 75-77–152
Don Clark, Shawnee – 78-76–154
Brian Cook, Tulsa – 73-81–154
Andy Lucas, Tulsa – 77-77–154
Jeff Oakes, Edmond – 77-77–154
Blake Gibson, Yukon – 76-79–155
Darrell Dyson, Owasso – 79-79–158
Michael McDonald, Oklahoma City – 77-81–158
Jerry Osborn, Chickasha – 83-75–158
Jeff Smith, Arcadia – 81-77–158
Steve Steele, Edmond – 79-79–158
Mark Balenseifen, Bethany – 80-82–162
Mark Wallace, Edmond – 81-81–162
John Creekmore, Owasso – 80-83–163
Alex McAllister, Oklahoma City – 83-80–163
Jamie Hayes, Norman – 87-77–164
Andrew Allen, Edmond – 82-83–165
Robert Martella, Norman – 82-83–165
Imran Siddiqi, Edmond – 85-84–169
Anthony Coleman, Lawton – 95-91–186
Mark Litton, Oklahoma City – 86-NC–NC
Jerry Nick, Okmulgee – 71-75–146
Tim Rogers, Broken Arrow – 72-75–147
Robert Alexander, Mustang – 75-74–149
Craig Collins, Enid – 72-77–149
John Kuester, Oklahoma City – 74-75–149
Bruce Maddux, Ponca City – 73-77–150
Terry Collier, Bixby – 77-74–151
Stephen Carroll, Lawton – 76-76–152
Tom Nielsen, Edmond – 75-78–153
Don Quint, Tulsa – 76-77–153
Randy Robinson, Oklahoma City – 78-75–153
Tim Mcfarland, Edmond – 78-76–154
Bud Surber, Edmond – 82-72–154
Greg Lynn, Edmond – 77-78–155
Neil Oxford, Enid – 80-76–156
Jim Roberts, Edmond – 78-79–157
Steve Chapman, Oklahoma City – 78-82–160
Walter Pitts, Tulsa – 83-79–162
Mike Goold, Blanchard – 84-79–163
Dave Jones, Norman – 87-76–163
Larry Hatch, Lawton – 84-80–164
Steve Felton , El Reno – 83-82–165
John Reese, Norman – 82-83–165
Rob Stallings, Enid – 83-85–168
Joe S Felton, Blanchard – 90-86–176
Michael Matthews, Altus – 89-87–176
Nick Sidorakis, Tulsa – 79-WD–WD