Forty-one years after winning his first CGA Championship, he is still at it.
Sir Thomas More’s unwavering faith led him into a fateful match with the heretical Henry VIII. The nobleman would lose his head but gain immortality as the subject of the famous play and film, A Man for All Seasons.
In contrast, Kent Moore’s strong faith and supportive family have helped him keep his head in duels with Bill Loeffler, Larry Eaton and wave after wave of the state’s foremost players. His first Colorado Golf Association victory came in the 1973 State Junior Match Play Championship (pictured below), and he won his most recent CGA title—by a convincing six-shot margin—at last September’s Senior Stroke Play. During the 41 years in between, he took the 1986 CGA Stroke Play, 1989 CGA Match Play, 1995 CGA Mid-Amateur and 2006 CGA Senior Match Play. All of which makes Kent Moore a Man for All Decades—or at least the five during which he’s competed.
Sitting in his manse overlooking the 17th hole at Glenmoor Golf Club—a course that didn’t even exist when he won the prestigious Cherry Hills Junior Invitational in 1973—Moore half-jokes that he’s not even the best golfer in his family. After all, Janet, his wife of 25 years, has won five Colorado Women’s Golf Association Stroke Play Championships and dozens of other CWGA and club titles—accomplishments that put her in the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame before her husband. Their children, Steven, 24, and Sarah, 22, both earned all-conference honors all four years they competed at Wheaton College in Illinois. Sarah “is probably the most gifted golfer in the family but plays the least,” Kent says.
“When you’re blessed to have a family like this, it clears your mind and gives you a tremendous advantage,” Kent, a devout Christian, explains. “Whether you’re playing in a club championship or any event, there’s always the fear or stress of those last three holes, but thoughts of my family give me a way to calm myself.”
Moore’s family connection to golf began with his father, Lester. He introduced Kent to the game at Pinehurst Country Club, where he received lessons from head professional Marion Pfluger and Tinsley Penick, son of the legendary instructor, Harvey Penick. Lester Moore caddied for Kent until 1993.
Never a long hitter, Kent relied on crisp iron play and a superb short game to become the top player and captain of the Purdue University golf team. His college coach, Joe Campbell, had competed in the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills and had Kent on his bag during the 1978 U.S. Open there. “He introduced me to Dale Douglass and Jack Nicklaus,” Moore remembers. “We played behind Lee Trevino, who never stopped talking.”
By the end of the next decade people were talking about Moore. His victories in the 1986 CGA Stroke Play and 1989 Match Play (pictured below with his father) put him in the same category as Hale Irwin and Brandt Jobe, future PGA Tour professionals who had also earned Colorado junior, match play and stroke play titles. Moore’s success in the finance and oil industries precluded any idea of playing golf professionally, yet he and Janet, whom he’d married in 1989, remained the devoted golfers they’d been since first noticing each other at Lakewood Country Club.
“I spotted her on the range there in 1981,” Kent remembers. “I asked Earl Svenningsen, the club pro, about her. ‘That’s Janet Ruma,’ he said, ‘…and she’s 17.’ The funny thing is, she’d asked her father about me. ‘That’s Kent Moore,’ he told her. ‘He’s 26….and has three kids.’ None of which was true, of course. But she was 17.”
The two weren’t formally introduced for another year and a half. Janet went onto star on the University of Arizona golf team, qualifying for three U.S. Women’s Amateurs during her time there.
“My favorite thing to do is caddie for her,” Kent says. “She’s such a pure ball-striker.” He doesn’t mind having her on his bag, either. “I’ve been two down with two holes to play in a match, and she just looks me in the eye and says, ‘Let’s get this.’”
Kent has known how to get after it since he was a junior, says Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Bill Loeffler. The two have competed against each other for 45 years and have been good friends for just as long. “He’s about the nicest guy you’ll ever meet,” says Loeffler, “but he wants to kick the crap out of you on the golf course.” Loeffler recalls partnering with Moore at an alternate-shot tournament: “I played terrible, but Kent’s short game won us the thing by seven strokes.”
“My best memories of Kent and Janet revolve around their consistent commitment to golf,” says Clayton Cole, the legendary former PGA head professional at Cherry Hills Country Club, where the couple has been members for most of their marriage. “They never quit playing. Every day, they would come out. They don’t take many lessons. They found out what worked for them and stuck with it. The beauty of that approach is that it keeps you playing shots on the golf course instead of thinking about your swing.”
Kent did work with instructors Mike McGetrick and Paul Lobato this year because he “needed to get to a better position at the top” of his swing. He and Janet also attended a 90-minute talk on “golf flow” with noted sports psychologist Gio Valiante. The adjustments resulted in a low-amateur finish in the HealthONE Colorado Senior Open and September’s dominating Stroke Play performance.
Kent’s dedication to the game extends beyond committing to each shot. He has served as the tournament director for the HealthONE Colorado Open, and in 2012 he and Janet volunteered to coach, respectively, the men’s and women’s golf teams at Wheaton College, the NCAA Division III institution 60 minutes west of Chicago that both children attended. They spend a total of five months there during the spring and the fall golf seasons.
“It’s a Christian college,” Kent says of the school that graduated evangelist Billy Graham. “There are no scholarships; you have to have a desire to want to be part of the community. I coached Steve his senior year—and Janet coached Sarah for three years.”
Loeffler says Moore’s competitive fire and amiability has not only made his friend a great player but a great coach. “It’s a wonderful combination of qualities,” he says.
Moore’s players come from as far away as California and Connecticut, “and it’s amazing how good they are. When I was their age, nine birdies in a round was virtually unheard of; not any more.” As evidence, he cites the one-over 285 that won him the 1986 stroke play and the 12-under 268 that earned CU’s David Oraee this year’s title.
“One over is middle of the field now. The players are in better condition and so are the courses, especially the greens. They’re faster and the Softspikes don’t leave marks like the metal ones did.”
At age 59, Moore, however, has more than left his mark on the game—in Colorado, at Wheaton, and nationally, where he has qualified for five U.S. Mid-Amateurs and three U.S. Amateurs. Of all the events he has won, the one at which he says he felt the most pressure was the 2009 CGA Father- Son Championship, because he wanted to win it with Steve.
And the one at which he felt the least pressure? “Any event where Janet is my partner,” the gracious champion jokes. “It’s like stealing.”
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Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via www.coloradoavidgolfer.com. Jon Rizzi is the founding editor and co-owner of this regional golf-related media company producing magazines, web content, tournaments, events and the Golf Passport.