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Moss Master

In 1850, the editor of the New York Tribune, Horace Greeley, advised those seeking adventure and fortune to “Go West, young man.”  That might have been good advice in the 19th century, but it was Memphis in the 20th century that benefited from the advice given to a talented, young golfer from California, “Come East, young man.”

That admonition was issued by a group of established Memphis gentlemen, golfers themselves, who recognized talent when they saw it, or to borrow a phrase, a diamond in the rough. That young man was Loren Roberts, who took that seasoned advice, uprooted himself from the Golden State, and put down roots in Memphis.

This story has meager beginnings when one considers the maturation of today’s golf superstars. Those careers often began in early childhood, fostered thereafter by lessons from established teachers, structured fitness programs and tournaments from age group events all the way through college before moving on to the ultimate goal, the PGA Tour.

Loren grew up in the Central Coast area of California and it wasn't until his junior year in high school that he went out for the golf team, where he experienced some limited success. He wasn’t recruited out of high school and went to Cal Poly, only to have the golf program dropped after his sophomore year. As a result, he worked at a local club on the range and in the bag room, subsequently earning a position as an assistant pro. 

His first success came when he won the National Assistant Golf Championship. That was followed by his next major accomplishment, and perhaps the biggest hurdle of all, a PGA tour card earned following a third try at tour school. To cover projected travel costs associated with the PGA Tour, he sold shares in himself to ten club members, all of whom turned a profit that first year. Loren is quick to point out that any success he has enjoyed has been as a result of older mentors who offered encouragement, advice and access to quality courses. 

All was not roses when, in 1981, he lost his tour card, requiring that he take a job at a local municipal golf facility. It was back to tour school and, having once again secured his card, he came to Memphis to play in the 1983 Memphis Open. Purely by chance, he stayed with Frank Brown who also became a mentor, a role which was shared with Frank’s golfing partners George Coors, Edgar Bailey, Hayward Smith and Ralph Levy. Loren was part of these golfers’ every Thursday game and benefited greatly from their sage advice. 

As a result of those friendships and the resultant camaraderie, Loren bought a home in Memphis in 1992 and secured, at what is considered by today’s standards the advanced age of 39, his first PGA Tour win in 1994 at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Classic. Remarkably, his second win on tour came exactly one year later, again at Bay Hill. Loren has 8 wins on the PGA Tour and 13 on the Champions Tour, including four majors, two of which were Senior British Open titles. 

His best finish in a PGA Tour major was at the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club, where after an 18-hole playoff, he lost on the 20th hole in a sudden death playoff to Ernie Els. It was at that tournament, between the third and fourth rounds, that fellow golfer David Ogrin hung the moniker “The Boss of the Moss” on him as a result of Loren’s incredible talent with the putter. In spite of that ability, Loren admitted that he had trouble pulling the putter back out when faced with a six-foot putt on the 18th hole in regulation to win the tournament outright. Perhaps he is mortal after all.

Now a resident of Memphis for the past 30 plus years, Loren cites the people and their graciousness as the city’s greatest asset and the reason he calls it home. He admits that his wife, Kim, has been his greatest advocate, always supportive, especially during those many trials and tribulations that always attend a life in sport. 

He is a proud father of two daughters and grandfather of two. He is very involved with the First Tee program, which brings the game of golf to disadvantaged youth, incorporating core values that promote a successful lifestyle. At the end of the day, in spite of his many successes on tour, Loren will tell you it is his faith and family that have sustained him.     

When asked about what comes next, Loren was evasive regarding his future in golf, but was quick to add that he was still exempt on the Champions Tour and that any talk of his retirement is “unofficial.” Perhaps one day we will again get to witness his wizardry with the putter, and if not, it was a great run by a true gentleman and ambassador of the sport.       

Loren, thanks for the memories.

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Loren's commitment to faith and family is what has sustained him.     

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The Boss on the Moss, his favorite surface