This Is The Stuff Augusta National Cinderella Stories Are Made Of

Sammy Schmitz is just your average, nine-to-five working-class American from Minnesota who happens to be teeing it up at Augusta National with the best players in the world this week. But before he could accept the invitation, he and his family had to find a way to foot the bill.  So, his wife launched a Go Fund Me campaign that raised over $25,000 in less than three days. Sammy had to cut it off.

“It’s been a crazy winter,” Schmitz said. “I’m lucky to have had so much support.”

How did he do it?

It’s not from being at the right place at the right time, or from knowing the right people. It’s not because he found the secret tunnel to Magnolia Lane the world has been searching for.

It is however due to an an unprecedented will to succeed and a few strokes of good luck. Oh, and from holing out from the tee-box on the Par 4, 15th during the final round of the 2015 Mid-Amateur Championship (which he went on to win). Welcome to Augusta, Sammy.

More than 20 years ago, Schmitz got his start in golf as a troublemaking teen who stole range balls from the local track, Fountain Valley Golf Course in Farmington, M.N. The pro offered him a job as long as he’d stop ransacking their supplies. In turn, he’d earn a couple bucks and play golf for free.

Clubhouse at Fountain Valley

“Golf is my thing. I love it. I love the game. I love the challenge. Every time I tee it up the course is different, the conditions are different, how I feel is different. I love competition.”

And challenged he will be, as the conditions of the 7400 + yards long August National are a bit different than that of Fountain Valley.

But that’s not something that scares him. He’s prepared for this week his whole life. And sometimes the support you receive is even more important than the hours you log on the range and golf course.

The basement of the Schmitz’ two-level home has a playroom and Sammy’s office. The main floor features a humungous putting green, and his daughters serve as the automated ball return.

08-7Schmitzgolf

“It’s a double life for me right now,” Schmitz said. “Working during the week, playing golf on the weekends, traveling around the country — it’s something I’ve never done before.”

And his wife, Natalie, is behind him every step of the way. “We’re both competitors, so I understand,” Natalie said. “When he plays a tournament, I feel like it’s game time.”

When Sammy plays in this year’s Masters Tournament, he’ll have the chance to be the first Mid-Amateur champ to ever make the cut. “Yes, I want to make the cut,” Schmitz said.  “I’m also determined to have fun. This will be such a great experience for me, and my family and friends. I want to enjoy this.”

He’ll carry three charms in his pocket this week that Natalie gave him to represent his wife and daughters.

This cinderella story is truly what makes the game of golf so special. No matter who you are, or what your situation is, you eternally have a shot at making it to the dance.  Best of luck out there, Sammy. We’ll all be rooting hard for you.

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