Mid Am Special Report - Oct 8


Mid-Am Report: Day 6



Fellow Members:

Some things are just too big to write. I will simply say this. I’ve been fortunate to be in the gallery for a lot of great golf—over 100 major championships and Ryder Cups where the best players in the world have performed at the height of their skills. Today, however, I bore witness to the single most electrifying shot I’ve ever seen.

The final match between Sammy Schmitz and Marc Dull had reached the 33rd hole, with Schmitz 2 up. It had been a difficult afternoon for both of them. Schmitz, who’d built a 2-up advantage after the morning 18, had started well enough with a kick-in birdie at the 19th and a conceded 2 at the 23rd, growing his lead to 4. But then both players began to tire, and the level of golf suddenly descended into something resembling opening day at The Amigos.

Dull played holes 24 through 27 in five over par—and in so doing actually won three of those holes as Schmitz played them in plus seven. Things got only slightly better after that and through the 32nd hole Schmitz was 2 up, no birdies (and precious few pars) having graced the scorecard.  

Then came Hole Number 33—the 290-yard 15th.

Now if, in the days and weeks and months and years to come, you should find yourself at a JI cocktail party and one of your fellow members comes up and begins to regale you with a lurid eyewitness account of what happened--as surely hundreds of them will, just as hundreds of people have claimed to be present that day in 1935 with Gene Sarazen at a certain other 15th hole—be very skeptical. Although the final-round crowd was several hundred (according to the USGA one of the largest in Mid-Am history) there were no more than 30 of us standing beside that green.  

I’d managed to scamper up there just in time, and had posted myself in a shady patch just behind the green when Sammy Schmitz unleashed his drive. There was silence for a few seconds as none of us was able to pick up the ball in flight. Then suddenly, it dropped out of the sky, stabbing the very center of the putting surface. The pin today was set at the front-right, just beneath the ridge, and Schmitz’s tee shot landed roughly 15 feet to the left of it, took once bounce, and then rolled slowly up the ridge, taking a slight break to the right before descending lazily back down the slope. As it did, someone beside me said, “My God, that could be stone dead.”

It was better than that. With absolutely perfect pace the ball trundled 15 feet and disappeared into the diametric center of the hole. An absolutely surreal 290-yard albatross!

Fifteen minutes later, when the 34th hole was halved with pars, 35-year-old Sammy Schmitz of Farmington, Minnesota, became the 35th U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion and The John’s Island Club took its place in golf history as the place that produced a National Championship moment for the ages.


George Peper



Click here to read David Shefter from the USGA's "Biggest Fans Arrive Just in Time After All-Night Drive."

For full photos from today, click here.



John's Island Club
3 John's Island Drive, Vero Beach, Fl 32963
772-231-1700 | clubnews@johnsislandclub.org