Luke Schniederjans (Georgia Tech photo)
Luke Schniederjans was 17 when he first played the Dogwood Invitational in 2015. He has been back every year since. Schniederjans, who is approaching his senior season at Georgia Tech, will have that been-there-before feeling at a lot of the amateur stops he makes this summer.
But nothing is so familiar as the Dogwood.
“I feel like I have a little leg up, it’s my fifth Dogwood,” Schniederjans said after an opening 5-under 67 that included four consecutive birdies from Nos. 6-9. “I don’t know if anyone else in the field has played that many.”
Schniederjans is also a native Georgian, having grown up in Kennesaw before moving to Alpharetta with his family. He’s now fully Atlantian, and is sleeping in his apartment near the Georgia Tech campus this week.
The opening round at Druid Hills Golf Club went very closely to plan. Schniederjans knows you need to hang on through No. 6, then there are scoring opportunities. By the time he stepped to the seventh tee, he was already 2 under.
Much of Schniederjans’ advantage comes on the greens this week. He knows where to miss, where the slopes are and how to play to a particular hole location. The green complexes represent the real scoring defense at Druid Hills.
Schniederjans has spent so much time on this amateur circuit because of the opportunities he created for himself with a strong freshman season at Georgia Tech. He led the team in scoring and won twice, including in his career-opening start at the Carpet Capital Collegiate. That summer, he was T-10 at the Northeast Amateur, runner-up at the Dogwood and T-7 at the Players Amateur.
It’s a Walker Cup year, and Schniederjans is hoping for a good summer again. Regardless, he’ll enjoy the ride. He knows as well as anyone the quality of venues that amateur golf provides and explains that with a history lesson.
“Amateur golf was as big as pro golf way back in the (Bobby) Jones era,” he said. “I think some of those courses have kept the tradition of those tournaments.”
The Dogwood as well as the Northeast Amateur, played at Wannamoissett in Rumford, R.I., (“The best course there is in the Boston area.”) top his list.
This summer will be that much better with course knowledge. The now-20-year-old says he likes to think of himself as a “smart percentage player,” but he also knows that he errs to an aggressive style of play. Schniederjans' name is nearly always going to be near the top of the birdies-made list. He made seven at Druid Hills in the opening round.
“When I have really good weeks I just don’t make as many mistakes,” he said.
Another way that familiarity will set him up for success.