Mike Booker loves a challenge. He loves to beat the odds. In fact, it’s the reason he plays the game of golf.

“I play to test myself,” Booker said. “One of the greatest things in life is to overcome a challenge and do the unexpected.”

The 64-year-old Houstonian has lived up to his credo. He’s set records, generously given back to the game and has adhered to the highest degree of sportsmanship throughout his amateur golf career. In recognition of his lifelong achievements, the 10-time Texas Golf Association champion was inducted into the Texas Golf Hall of Fame on Oct. 14. Booker joins a list of some of the most notable names in golf’s history, including Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Lee Trevino and Kathy Whitworth.

“I’m still trying to put it into words,” Booker said. “It’s a real honor. This Hall of Fame induction has that same great feeling of winning a tournament with much more staying power.”

Booker’s name appears on multiple TGA trophies. He’s won double-digit titles, including the Texas Senior Amateur, Texas Mid-Amateur and Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play. He also holds the record for the most Texas Senior Player of the Year honors; earning the designation in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

“His golf game speaks for itself,” said Lewis Stephenson, who beat Booker by one shot to win the 2018 Texas Senior Amateur. “But as a fellow competitor, I can’t say enough. He’s just a gentleman and gets what amateur golf is all about.”

In addition to his TGA successes, Booker also won four Greater Houston City Amateur and three Greater Houston City Senior Amateur titles over the spread of three decades. His first City Amateur win came in 1985, while his last City Senior Amateur victory was in 2018. In the 33 years between those titles, Booker achieved 14 starts in USGA championships, seven Texas Shootout South Team selections and won two U.S. National Club Championships.

“Later in my career, I started to recognize when I would get ahead of myself,” Booker said. “I learned how to stay in the moment, and that helped me down the stretch in tournament golf.”

Prior to his mid-amateur and senior career, Booker was a member of the University of Houston’s Men’s Golf Team. In 1976, the Cougars were favorites heading into the NCAA Championship. Booker was unable to play due to a wrist injury, and Houston ended up losing to Oklahoma State. The following year, Booker was healthy, but the team had lost a few key players. Despite being underdogs this time around, the Cougars flipped the script and beat the defending champion Cowboys to capture the 1977 NCAA National Championship.

“The 1977 Championship was a spectacular way to finish out my senior year,” Booker said. “It was really special because we beat the odds.”

Booker’s passion to compete and do the unexpected has served him well on the golf course. But all the amateur wins, awards and honors never changed his life the way a phone call from his doctor did during the spring of 2005.

That’s when Booker learned he had melanoma.

“When your doctor says you have a malignant tumor, that’s a moment where everything freezes. Time stands still,” Booker said. “It’s never anything you want to hear in your whole life.”  

He has since been diagnosed with melanoma two more times. The most recent and severe case was in 2011, when the malignant tumor came within two millimeters from getting under Booker’s skin on his back. After surgery and countless doctor’s office visits, Booker was once again cancer-free.

Today, Booker visits his dermatologist every four months and his experience has inspired him to undertake another challenge. He and his wife started the Mike and Pat Booker Melanoma Research Endowment for The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to continue making strides in finding a cure for melanoma.  

“In 2005, I was caught off guard and didn’t know anything about melanoma,” Booker said. “We wanted to get the word out about the disease, so we created the endowment.”

A successful financial advisor, Booker’s charitable efforts include the game of golf as well. He and Pat underwrote construction of the University of Houston’s short game facility for the men’s and women’s golf teams at the Golf Club of Houston. And in 2017, they became First Tee Trustees to continue their support of junior golf.

“Golf has taught many life skills to Michael outside the golf course,” Pat Booker said. “And so, we want to give back to what has made us who we are today.”

Booker is a balanced man who continues to overcome challenges on and off the golf course. And that’s exactly how he wants his legacy to be remembered.

“I’d like to be remembered as a guy who could play, and my induction into the Hall of Fame goes a long way to affirm that,” Booker said. “But I also hope to be remembered as one who left something behind for others.”

Booker’s accomplishments are well-deserved, and the 2019 Texas Golf Hall of Fame Inductee summed up the game of golf in one message.

“Let golf be a rich part of the person you are, but don’t allow golf to be the single determining factor of who you are,” Booker said. “I am a stronger, better man because of golf. But, in the end, it is just a game. Learn the incredible things golf teaches you about yourself, about coping with adversity and all the rest, but you will never master it. So, don’t let it become your master.”  

Booker recently finished tied sixth in the Texas Senior Amateur at The Clubs of Kingwood’s Deerwood Club. He carded a final round 2-under 70 to add another top-10 in a TGA Major Championship to his resume.

For more on the 2019 Texas Golf Hall of Fame Inductees, click here