- USGA photo
In 2015, Sammy Schmitz hit one of the greatest shots ever struck in USGA competition.
Standing on the 33rd tee of the U.S. Mid-Amateur championship match, Schmitz pulled out a driver to take on the driveable par-four, and rolled it up onto the green and into the hole for a double-eagle hole-in-one. He would close out the match one hole later.
In 120 years of USGA competition, it was only the second hole-in-one ever recorded on a par four, a feat that would eventually be commemorated by a plaque on the tee of the hole, at John’s Island Club’s West Course in Vero Beach, Fla.
Schmitz's reward was an invitation to the 2016 Masters, where he missed the cut but accumulated a lifetime of memories. Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune spoke with Schmitz, who revisits the memories of Masters week every year but especially this year, as the coronavirus pandemic keeps everyone home watching reruns of past Masters tournaments.
Related: The Masters rescheduled for November, ANWA cancelled
"I’m watching it yesterday, and we were reliving all of the stories", said Schmitz to Souhan. "We’re so bored this week that we’re re-watching all of the old Masters tournaments. We still talk about being there quite a bit, and probably always will."
In Souhan's article, Schmitz reminisces about his Masters week experience -- everything from the greetings from security guards, to interactions with Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne, to practice rounds with players like Rickie Fowler, Bryson Dechambeau and Mike Weir, to a memorable toss by his daughter during the Par 3 competition, to Payne's reaction upon seeing Fowler's unusual golf shoes.
"Everywhere I go, people still ask me about it," said Schmitz. "You have to go there to have any understanding of how amazing it is. Now, when I watch the Masters, I feel like I know every nook and cranny of Augusta National. I feel pretty lucky about that."
Schmitz doesn't compete as much nationally these days as he did then, but he was scheduled to play in the U.S. Four-Ball, for which he qualified with his long-time partner Jesse Polk. Unfortunately, it's another major event that will be missing from Schmitz's life in 2020, as the USGA cancelled the tournament amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Fortunately Schmitz has the memories of the 2016 Masters to carry him through.