But Owen didn’t play like his elders — he played better.
After a successful career at Cherokee High School from 1988-90, Owen went on to play at Kennesaw State, where he was a three-time NAIA All-American. He was the No. 1 player on the Owls’ three nationally ranked teams and was named the Scholar Athlete of the Year in 1992.
Owen won 10 individual titles between 1992 and ’94 and had a streak of 18 consecutive top-20 finishes while at Kennesaw State.
After turning professional in 1997 and spending the next decade playing competitively, Owen now serves as the golf pro at Dunwoody Country Club.
For all of his achievements, Owen will be inducted into the Cherokee County Sports Hall of Fame tonight as a member of its class of 2013.
“It’s an honor that I never enough thought about getting,” said Owen, who was inducted into Kennesaw State’s athletic hall of fame last year. “I was just playing golf and doing the best I could at it. I never thought it would become what it was.”
Owen, who currently resides in Marietta, admits that Cherokee didn’t have much success as a team, though he was named the Warriors’ most valuable player all three years.
“We were usually pretty mediocre,” he said. “Unfortunately, Cherokee High School has never been known for really good golf teams. I wish it was different, but it’s not.”
Owen was a part-time golfer during his high school days. Since he also played basketball, Owen said he would pick up the clubs in the spring and put them down at the end of the summer.
“For me, I played February through August,” he said. “When I played basketball, I didn’t touch my clubs until the season was over. That was pretty much my career in high school.”
In college, Owen got more serious.
“I loved basketball, but I was better at golf,” he said. “There was no comparison. I knew that, if I wanted to play sports in college, it had to be golf.”
Owen accepted the scholarship offer from Kennesaw State for the 1991-92 school year. He joined a team with players much like himself — on the fringe of being really good.
“We had a lot of relative unknowns, but we put together a good team that ended up finishing fourth in my first year at nationals,” Owen said. “We burst onto the scene.”
He was a part of the program as it transitioned from NAIA to NCAA Division II.
“It was a snowball of activity that fell upon me,” Owen said. “I was really surprised with the way that it all happened. It was a really enjoyable run. It was something that I was expecting. I went to college to get a degree and wanted to play golf, but then golf ended up becoming a really big part of my life when I was in college.”
It was late in college that Owen realized that golf would be in his life to stay. When he graduated, he made a key choice between graduate school and golf.
He went with golf.
“I just decided that I probably need to give golf a shot,” Owen said. “I worked on my game after I got out of school and by 1997, which was a few years later I got out, I decided I was good enough to try to make a living playing golf.”
In addition to his father, Ken, and grandfather, C.E., Owen cited Jim Stagmeier as one of his influences. Stagmeier gave Owen his first official lessons and helped him rebuild his golf swing in 1999 and 2000.
“We rebuilt my swing from the ground up,” Owen said. “It took a while for it to take hold, but when it did, I was a much better player.”
Though Owen said he didn’t get rich playing golf professionally, he made his living that way until 2005.
“With no regrets, I hung the spikes up and went back into the club professional side of the business,” he said.
Owen still enjoys the game of golf, but now his days involve more teaching and administration than playing. He still plays competitively, but on a different level — a level that allows him to spend time with his wife, Cheryl, and daughter, Carolina.
“When I hit my mid-30s, I didn’t want to be living out of a suitcase any more,” he said. “Instead of looking for reasons to get in the car and go to a tournament, I was looking for reasons to stay home for a couple extra days, so the motivation had dwindled a bit. After eight years, I wanted to stay at home.”
Owen admits that if he had reached the PGA Tour and was playing for millions, he might have hung around longer. But playing mini-tours and the Nationwide Tour wasn’t enough.
“I realized that I wasn’t going to do that forever,” he said. “So, I have no regrets about hanging it up — zero. My heart was at being at home not in playing.”
Golf certainly isn’t gone from Owen’s life, and it probably never will be. He has fond memories of beating PGA Tour players like Bubba Watson, John Daly, Heath Slocum, Chad Campbell, Vaughn Taylor, and Boo Weekley, and shooting a course-record 63 at Bradshaw Farm, en route to a victory.
“When I was growing up and playing as a kid, and even a young professional, we played a lot of golf,” Own said. “We joked around and had a lot of fun. Now, it is very serious, from fitness regiments to workout schedules, to diets. To these young kids, it’s almost a job. When I played, it was still a game.”