by Shane René, USGA P.J. Boatwright Intern for the IGA
The year is 2001. It’s a Monday afternoon in mid-July and Scott Masingill knows he needs a birdie. Deep down, he worries that he may also need a time machine.
He’s standing on the tee of the par-5 18th at Idaho Falls Country Club — the final hole of the Idaho State Amateur — having just clawed his way into contention against two of Idaho’s top Division I products. His 50th birthday is just one week away, less than a month before his competitors are scheduled to return to their dorm rooms.
“I hit as good a drive as I could,” Masingill said. “But these kids were outdriving me by, you know, 20, 30, 40 yards.”
But youth, it turns out, is no match for the wise. Left with just 200 yards off a downhill lie, Masingill flagged a 3-iron. His ball pitched on the front edge and released to the back of the green, setting up a long look at eagle that he would cozy to within a foot of the hole.
Having turned 72 just a week after the 2023 State Amateur, Masingill is still as sick in love with the game as anyone you know. The ease with which he recalls old golf shots — filed away and retrieved in vivid detail — can only be found in those gripped by a terminal case of the golf bug.
“I was so excited, you know, I had this [one-foot] putt to win and I thought, ‘Just stop and go through your…’ and I just hit it,” he laughed, reveling in the memory. “Anyway, it went in. But that was pretty exciting.”
The birdie secured Masingill’s ninth Idaho State Amateur title, the last in a 29-year run across four decades that would cement his legacy as the most decorated men’s amateur player in state history.
“I had no business winning that one,” he said.
This year, Masingill was in the field once again, finishing T-17 in pursuit of a trophy that bears his own name. Coming off an opening round 70 that had him tied for the lead through 18 holes, Masingill found himself in the penultimate group for the final round, separated from the leaders by three shots and 50-plus years.
“I was hoping to hand this from one hand to the other,” he joked during the trophy ceremony for 16-year-old champion Trevor Garus.
Since IGA’s 50th anniversary in 2019, Idaho State Amateur champions proudly display the Scott Masingill Cup at their home clubs.
“It’s an honor to be presented the trophy by Scott Masingill himself,” Garus said.
Masingill’s resumé spills well beyond the Idaho state border. A talented junior player, the Payette native found his way to Oregon State University where he won a Pac-8 Championship in 1971, just a year before he won his first Idaho State Amateur.
After that, he notched a number of amateur victories across the Pacific Northwest, competed all over the world, racked up eight more State Amateur titles, and turned professional at 50 years old. He was inducted into the Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame in 2003.
He’s lived more golf lives than most of us can dream of, and he’s done it consistently over what is otherwise a remarkably normal life. He went to college, worked full time, raised kids, and managed to never lose touch with his craft.
In 1990, he had to rush from his son’s little league baseball tournament in Jerome to his tee time at the State Amateur, still dressed in a t-shirt and tennis shoes. He says he wasn’t playing much during that time in his life, but he still played well enough to win his fifth title that week.
“I was a college kid trying to beat the older guys; I was the older guy trying to beat the college kid; I was the father just trying to cobble something together,” he said, reflecting on his longevity in elite amateur golf. “So, each of those eras was a completely different challenge.”
Today, you’re likely to find Masingill out at Scotch Pines Golf Course in Payette, a non-profit track his family helped develop in the early 1960s, and he now serves as president of the club’s board of directors.
In 1985 — just a couple years after his fourth state title — he tried his hand at course architecture, designing several of the current holes at Scotch Pines to turn the 9-holer into an 18-hole layout.
In 2000, he won his eighth state title playing those very same holes.
Playing Scotch Pines with Masingill feels like walking around City Hall with a beloved 10-term mayor. His knowledge of the property — the holes, the irrigation, the history — is unparalleled.
He grew up on the course, perfected his craft on its greens, and now funnels everything he loves about golf and his community into the facility he now oversees. His love for the game is firmly anchored in the people he shares the fairways with.
“I usually play with these donuts,” he said, pointing over at the first tee where a few foursomes were lined up waiting to play. They heckled back, unafraid to rib the man whose friendship shines brighter than his legacy.
When you spend a little bit of time with Masingill — time with which he is remarkably generous — you’ll notice that he can’t avoid running into moments where his humble nature melts away under the blinding light of his legacy.
Masingill knows how good he is. It’s hard to win that much and pretend like you’re just some normal guy.
But even after turning professional, where he would make 29 of 33 cuts on the PGA TOUR Champions, the normalcy of amateur golf still had an allure that he couldn’t resist. He’d spent his life building his summers around the State Amateur Championship, competing within the context of a community that shares more than just golf.
“I’ve lived in Idaho my whole life,” he said. “So, anything that says it’s a state tournament, I’m interested in it. I’m a resident of the Pacific Northwest; anything that says it’s a Pacific Northwest event, I’m interested in it.”
Ultimately, Masingill says the magnet that drew him back to the amateur game is the people who play alongside him. They are doctors and lawyers, plumbers and schoolteachers, students and social workers; they are successful, he notes, in other parts of their lives. Their lives are enriched by the game, but never made miserable (at least, not too miserable) by the horrors of their short game.
They are people for whom golf is not a matter of life and death, but a matter of heart and soul.
Masingill is drawn to them because he’s one of them; he’s one of us. And every year at the Idaho State Amateur we gather to celebrate normal people who happen to love the game and play it well.
It’s only right that they compete for the Scott Masingill Cup.
“I’m flattered that somebody feels that way about me,” Masingill said, placing his hand on his chest as his voice broke, forced to tears by the idea that he means something to an institution that has meant so much to him. “When you’re doing this, you don’t know what legacy you’re going to have. And that just emphasized that all the things that I’ve done — and what I’ve been — is worth it.”
(This article originally appeared on the IGA website, and also in the Idaho section of the September issue of Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine. Used by permission.)