Nine Things to Know for 36th U.S. Mid-Amateur
September 8, 2016 | Elverson, Pa.
By David Shefter, USGA
For the second time in three years, the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship will be conducted in eastern Pennsylvania. Stonewall, which opened in 1993 and features a pair of Tom Doak-designed layouts, gets its first national championship. Two years ago, Saucon Valley Country Club, in Bethlehem, provided the canvas for Scott Harvey’s first USGA championship title, and now the national championship for golfers 25 years and older returns within the confines of the Golf Association of Philadelphia.
Here are nine storylines for this year’s competition:
Defending the Crown
Only two players – Jim Stuart (1990-91) and Nathan Smith (2009-10) – have successfully defended their Mid-Amateur titles, although four players have won multiple championships. Sammy Schmitz, 36, of Farmington, Minn., has a chance to join this elite fraternity. Last year, Schmitz out-dueled Marc Dull, 3 and 2, at John’s Island Club, highlighted by a hole-in-one on the par-4 33rd hole. It’s believed to be only the second ace on a par-4 hole in USGA history. Schmitz is coming off a solid performance in last month’s U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills Country Club in suburban Detroit, where he shot 2-over 142 in stroke play, but failed to advance to match play from a 23-for-8 playoff for the final spots in the draw.
Speaking of the U.S. Amateur, a total of 13 players in this year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur teed it up at Oakland Hills. That list includes several past Mid-Amateur champions, including Schmitz, Smith – a four-time winner, 2013 champion Mike McCoy, and Harvey. Another name to watch is 2013 USA Walker Cup Team competitor Todd White, who won the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship with Smith at The Olympic Club in 2015.
It has been 15 years since Robert Hamilton’s run to the 2001 U.S. Amateur final at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Hamilton lost to Ben “Bubba” Dickerson, 1 down, but still earned an invitation to the 2002 Masters. Hamilton tried the professional ranks after graduating from the University of California, but has since regained his amateur status. This will be his first USGA championship since the 2001 Amateur.
Brian Payne, of Flossmoor, Ill., certainly will be focused on his own game at Stonewall, but forgive him if his mind wanders several hours to the west, where his wife, Emily, will be competing in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur at The Kahkwa Club in Erie, Pa. Both played at Northwestern University and are veterans of USGA championships. Brian qualified for two U.S. Juniors (reached the Round of 16 in 1991) and two U.S. Amateurs, while Emily played in the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball in 2015, and the 1993 U.S. Girls’ Junior.
Matthew Jacobsen, of Portland, Ore., might not be well known on the national golf stage, but people should recognize the last name. Matthew’s uncle, Peter, won the 2004 U.S. Senior Open and is now a television golf analyst for NBC/Golf Channel. His father, David, also is an accomplished amateur golfer, having qualified for the inaugural U.S. Mid-Amateur in 1981 at Bellerive Country Club. Matthew, a police officer, is competing in his first USGA championship.
Not many golf courses have a cow as its logo. But when the founders of Stonewall were deciding on a logo, it chose something that represented the club’s rustic personality. Before golf was played in this region of northwest Chester County, the 185-acre property was primarily used for farming – in particular dairy cattle and corn – thus the idea to use a cow in its logo.
Let’s Play Two
The U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship adapted a 36-hole final beginning in 2001 when Tim Jackson edged George Zahringer for his second title. This year, the final will take on a unique twist with the Old and North courses being utilized for the championship match. The two finalists will play the morning 18 on the North and then switch to the Old for the afternoon round. Both courses are being utilized for stroke play, with the first five rounds of match play exclusively on the Old Course.
Planting a (Walker Cup) Seed
When the USGA announced prior to the 2013 Walker Cup Match that a minimum of two mid-amateur golfers would be named to the USA Team, it provided a carrot for the 25-and-over set, especially those competing in the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. While the 2017 Match at The Los Angeles Country Club is still a year away, winning the 2016 title can be a positive stepping stone. The 2015 USA Walker Cup Team featured two recent Mid-Amateur champions (McCoy and Harvey), while the victorious 2013 side had four-time champion Smith. The other mid-amateur representative on that team was White, who advanced to the semifinals of the 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur at Conway Farms.
Several players from the Greater Philadelphia area have qualified for this year’s championship, including Chip Lutz, of Reading, Pa., who won the 2015 U.S. Senior Amateur and was the low amateur in this year’s U.S. Senior Open. Lutz, who also won this year’s British Senior Amateur, had to withdraw from the U.S. Amateur when the Senior Open was extended into Monday due to weather. The only brother tandem in the field also hails from the area: Brian and Michael McDermott, of Media and Bryn Mawr, respectively, while Matt Mattare, of Jersey City, N.J., grew up in the Lehigh Valley and is a member of Saucon Valley, where his father, Gene, is the general manager. Mattare advanced to the quarterfinals in 2012 and reached the Round of 16 in 2014 when the championship was conducted at Saucon Valley. Christopher Ault, of Yardley, Pa., won the 2013 Pennsylvania State Amateur.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.