Marty West did not pick up a golf club until he was 13 years old.
"My Father thought I might become frustrated with the game if I started at an earlier age," said West.
Frustration these days usually is relegated to West's opponents. Last week the 29-year-old Columbia Country Club golfer overwhelmed junior star Jack Skilling to win his third Maryland Amateur.
West, considered the area's top amateur, has enough trophies in his Bethesda home to fill a sporting goods store. But he is not the type to flaunt them.
"I try not to be loud about my golf game. I want to be remembered as a person, not just a golfer," said the mortgage banker and family man who long ago decided against a pro golf career. "Golf should not be a totality in anyon'e life."
But golf has been a big part of West's life since he started taking lessons from the late Fred McLeod, the 1908 U.S. Open champion and longtime Columbia pro.
After initial pointers, West has been primarily self-taught except for a few visits with Jack Nicklaus' mentor, Jack Grout, and some give-and-take with Burning Tree pro Max Elbin.
West did not excel in Frank Emmet's area junior golf program. "I didn't break an egg," West said. "I was leading by four shots in an 18-hole tournament once. I played very badly on the back nine, shanked several shots and finished fifth."
West did not commit himself to the humbling game until after shooting a lackluster 88 in spring qualifying at the University of North Carolina, where he majored in history.
After that, he worked and practiced and was encouraged by two revelations.
The first came when he was paired in a college tournament with players from the University of Houston, long noted for power house golf teams. West observed that their games were not that different from his except for their ability to get the ball up and down near the greens.
"Most people think you have to hit every shot perfect," West said. "I realized that these people were able to take the missed shot and still make par, and I was making bogey every time. They had the ability to minimize the bad shot and maximize the good shot."
Further proof that West could play with the best came at Woodmont in 1971, when he outduelled Lanny Wadkins (who was to become 1977 PGA and World Series of golf titlist) over the final 18 holes to win the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament against a field that also included present pros Jim Simons and Eddie Pearce.
West's controlled game has flourished since. He made the cut at Atlanta in 1976 in his only U.S. Open appearance and qualified for the Masters three straight years, 1972-74.
He has played in seven of the last eight U.S. Amateurs and was selected for the 1973 Walker Cup team. He has won the Middle Atlantic Amateur twice, the District Amateur once and beat the pros in winning two Maryland Opens.
West and wife Betsy lead a weekly bible study group on behalf of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
West says his religious belief is "definitely" a calming influence on his golf game. "I think sometimes I'm more willing to accept defeat than someone else," he said. "But that doesn't mean I am not going to try my hardest."
West has two big tournament coming up. Thursday he and clubmate Jerry Nye will defend their Anderson Memorial Four Ball title at Winged Foot in New York. Next Monday he will defend his Maryland Open championship at Manor Country Club.