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A Quick Nine with Stewart Hagestad
29 Oct 2021
by Jim Young of AmateurGolf.com

see also: Stewart Hagestad Rankings

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Stewart Hagestad won his second U.S. Mid-Am title at Sankaty Head (USGA photo)
Stewart Hagestad won his second U.S. Mid-Am title at Sankaty Head (USGA photo)

With two U.S. Mid-Amateur titles and three Walker Cup appearances on his shining resume, Stewart Hagestad has become one of the most successful and recognizable mid-amateurs of all time.

His victory at Sankaty Head Golf Club in September was his second U.S. Mid-Amateur title in five years, following his 2016 triumph at Stonewall (Old Course) in Elverson, Pa., when he overcame a four-hole deficit to beat Scott Harvey with a 15-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole. This time, Hagestad was the one who was being hunted, as he enjoyed a 5-up lead over Mark Constanza after the first 18 holes and hung on for a 2-and-1 victory.

Numerous fog delays and 121 holes of match play made for a very long week in Siasconset, Mass. for the 30-year-old Hagestad, who earned an exemption into the U.S. Open at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass. next summer and a likely invitational to the 2022 Masters, where he was the low amateur and the first mid-amateur to make the cut at Augusta National in 2016.

As impressive as his march to his second U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship was, it was an act of sportsmanship in a tightly contested quarterfinal matchup with Christian Sease that further added to Hagestad’s growing legacy.

It was on the 14th green that Hagestad moved his marker so as not to interfere with his opponent’s line and in the heat of the moment, momentarily forgot to move his marker back to the original spot. After a reminder from Sease, Hagestad re-marked his ball and after missing his birdie try, he immediately conceded Sease’s par putt from 8 feet as a thank you for the reminder by his opponent.

“It just felt like the right thing to do to give him the 8-footer,” Hagestad said after the match. “He could have easily said nothing, and I could have lost the hole. It’s more important to be a good guy than anything else. Obviously winning the hole is a plus, but it was the right thing to do, and I would do it again.”

In our initial segment of A Quick Nine, AmateurGolf.com caught up with the two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion to get his thoughts on his future, some of his mentors and what he does in the offseason to stay sharp. His answer may surprise you.

A Quick Nine with Stewart Hagestad

1) How does your second U.S. Mid-Amateur title compare to your first?
Both the first time and the second time are absolute dreams come true, and something that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I felt honored to be called a USGA champion then, and I feel equally as humbled to be called the reigning Mid-Amateur champion now.

2) How do you prepare yourself to get ready for a championship?
This changes from the start of the year until the end. Leading into April of next year, I will put my clubs away for now and focus on trying to put on a bunch of weight to get stronger while giving my body some time to rest. Leading into the US Mid-Am, I was just trying to stay loose, healthy, and feeling good amount my game through practice and the confidence of playing well in other events.

3) With two U.S. Mid-Amateur victories and three Walker Cup appearances under your belt, what are some of your goals for the future?
I am still decompressing and trying to enjoy this win. I have not yet put much thought into the future, and I am trying to focus on other goals away from golf. At this stage in my amateur career, most of my goals relate to USGA Championships, major championships, national team events, and anything I can do to help grow and give back to the amateur game that has given me so many incredible experiences.

4) Who have been some of your mentors over the years?
I worked with Jim Flick for 6–7 years from, when I was 16 to my early 20s. He was really the first person that helped me believe in, and take ownership of, my golf swing and my ability. I cannot say enough great things about him from a coaching perspective and from a mentor perspective. Similar to Jim, Matt Cuccaro gave me the opportunity to learn more about the mental side of the game and provided me with many of the tools that I still use today. From a player perspective, I could go on and on. Basically, anyone that has played at a high level and understands the sacrifices that are necessary to play. (Four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion) Nathan Smith is one of my closest friends and he, more than anyone, understands many of those sacrifices.

5) How do you strike a balance between being a highly competitive amateur with everyday life?
I look up to many people who are able to balance far more than just competitive golf and everyday life. Set your standards and goals high, make the appropriate sacrifices to give yourself the best chance to prepare, and try to surround yourself with people who are better than you.

6) How do you stay sharp during the offseason?
I do not play much during the offseason. I take my time off seriously, and I look forward to giving my body and mind a chance to reset. When I do play it’s typically with close friends and family. I look forward to the opportunity to prepare and give myself the best chance to play well in the spring.

7) What was your reasoning for remaining an amateur as opposed to trying to earn your tour card?
At the time when I graduated from college, I wasn’t good enough. The boys that play on tour are all such impressive players, and I feel I made the right decision. Turning pro isn’t for everyone, and I feel very lucky to have had the chance to have met so many outstanding players and people that make amateur golf so incredibly special.

8) Three courses that are on your bucket list?
Merion, Crystal Downs, Sand Hills

9) Interests outside of golf?
I love being active and doing anything competitive. Any outside or live events are right up my alley.

The Hagestad File
Born: April 10, 1991 in Newport Beach, Calif.
College: University of Southern California
Residence: New York City
U.S. Mid-Amateur Wins (2): 2016, 2021
Walker Cup Appearances (3): 2017, 2019, 2021
U.S. Open Appearances (3): 2017, 2018, 2019
U.S. Amateur Appearances: 12
Other Notable Victories: 2009 Scott Robertson Memorial (Boys 15-18); 2016 Metropolitan Amateur; 2019 Pan-American Games Mixed Team; 2021 George C. Thomas Invitational

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