Further Review

Steve Hummer's Further Review blog offers comments, asides and quick hits on the state of sports

Golfer's plea: Help get me to Masters

There is no shortage of causes in the world, and now to that long and varied list add the Send-Sammy-Schmitz-to-the-Masters Campaign.

Earlier this month, the 35-year-old Wisconsinite, the 3,724th-ranked amateur in the world, up and won the U.S. Mid-Amateur in Florida. With that title came an invitation to a certain little tournament in Augusta next April.

Jordan Spieth may need no help defraying the expenses involved in preparing for and competing in the next Masters. He cleared $22 million in winnings last year. But for someone who labors in health care, a father of two, the dream of playing in the season’s first major as well as a full amateur schedule to follow came with an intimidating price tag.

What if you had fantasized all your life of just attending the Masters? And then your first chance to go was as one of those privileged few inside the green ropes? Only to realize that the event you couldn’t afford to miss was one that you couldn’t afford?

Turns out that being an amateur isn’t cheap.

In response Schmitz’s wife did the updated equivalent of waving a contribution jar at strangers stopped at a red light. She set up a GoFundMe online account, seeking to raise $30,000.

On the fund-raising platform, the obviously optimistic Natalie Schmitz wrote: “This victory landed him several invitations to golf greatest amateur events in the United States and a chance to win a green jacket!

“He also has a chance to be considered to the Walker Cup team in 2017 with a national tournament schedule. As exciting of a time this is for my family, it has also become one of concern due to the high costs of travel, lodging, entry fees, caddies during this amazing journey.”

His victory in the Mid-Am was unexpected, and certainly nothing for which the family budgeted. Schmitz twice before had advanced to the match play portion of the event, only to fade. His summer had been winless.

But the 3-and-2 victory over Florida’s Marc Dull in the final had the feel of inevitability to it when on the next-to-last hole Schmitz jarred his tee shot on a 260-yard hole that was designated a par 4. It was believed to be only the second hole-in-one on a par 4 in USGA amateur competition.

Thus did the unlikely become a partner in Schmitz’s journey to the Masters. And it has continued to keep company with him: As of early Tuesday, the GoFundMe site showed nearly $19,000 pledged to the cause of a needy golfer.

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About the Author

Steve Hummer writes sports features for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He covers a wide range of sports and topics.