Mid-Am champ Schmitz finds road to Augusta paved in donors’ green
22 Oct 2015
by Golfweek

see also: U.S. Mid-Amateur Golf Championship, Charlotte Country Club

2015 Mid-Am winner Sammy Schmitz (USGA)
2015 Mid-Am winner Sammy Schmitz (USGA)

-Story by Jeff Babineau of Golfweek

Sammy Schmitz, the three-time Minnesota player of the year who captured the 35th U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship earlier this month at John's Island Club's West Course in Vero Beach, Fla., said his usual winters up north consist of playing a little hockey and watching a lot of NHL games, which means getting to as many Minnesota Wild games as he can.

As for his golf sticks? Well, they usually get a rest in the wintertime.

“I don’t touch a club until March,” Schmitz said.

Of course, there’s now a pending invitation expected in the Schmitz mailbox to play the Masters at Augusta National in April, a champion's tradition that dates to the late 1980s, and Schmitz wants to be ready when he gets invited. That means he needs to practice and play, likely somewhere far south of his family residence in River Falls, Wis., just over the Minnesota state line.

Schmitz has a normal day job working as a regional director for a healthcare-services company; his wife, Natalie, is a nurse.

The family’s journey to prepare for the Masters, potentially a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, won’t be cheap, and Natalie said there are only so many extra shifts she can pick up. The Schmitzes have two young daughters and have been concerned about the high cost of tournament fees (to some of the Mid-Am and amateur events that would help Sammy keep his game sharp), travel, caddies and lodging.

Earlier this week, Natalie set up a GoFundMe account, initially targeting $30,000 (and later adjusted to $25,000), to financially aid the family with its journey. As of Tuesday evening, the fund from anonymous donors had reached $25,219 in three days, and the family is no longer accepting donations.

Schmitz, who did not return a call placed to his cellphone, wrote “I feel so blessed to have so many supporters in our life.” He also noted that the page and fundraising concept had been approved by the U.S. Golf Association, which oversees the amateur status of players.

A spokesperson for the USGA released the following: “Raising funds for reasonable competition expenses is permissible under the Rules of Amateur Status as long as a state and/or regional golf association is involved in the administration of the fund and any donations remain anonymous. The USGA has and will continue to work with all parties involved.”

In this case, any unused money would be passed on to the Minnesota Golf Association. The USGA will pass along names and contact information from the fund’s list of “anonymous” donors to Schmitz, who plans to thank those who have supported him so generously.

Bring on the winter!

Results For U.S. Mid-Amateur Golf Championship
WinMNSammy SchmitzFarmington, MN1000
Runner-upFLMarc DullWinter Haven, FL700
SemifinalsKYBrad WilderFort Wright, KY500
SemifinalsTXDavid BolenLubbock, TX500
QuarterfinalsTXJosh IrvingDallas, TX400

View full results for U.S. Mid-Amateur Golf Championship

ABOUT THE U.S. Mid-Amateur

The U.S. Mid-Amateur originated in 1981 for the amateur golfer of at least 25 years of age, the purpose of which to provide a formal national championship for the post-college player. 264 players begin the championship with two rounds of sroke play qualifying held at two courses, after which the low 64 (with a playoff if necessary to get the exact number) advance to single elimination match play.

View Complete Tournament Information

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