Big Game Hunting At Mid-Amateur

Biesecker shoots down first two foes at Shadow Hawk


Nicholas Biesecker prefers hunting over golf, but he's doing his best to shoot down the competition at this week's U.S. Mid-Amateur. (Steven Gibbons/USGA)
By Stuart Hall
September 20, 2011

Richmond, Texas — Nick Biestecker’s golf backstory is not unlike many others in the field for the 31st U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.

He picked up the game at a young age (8) and was influenced by a family member (great uncle Roland Garmon); played collegiately (Southern Methodist University) and briefly as a professional (mostly Monday qualifiers) before being re-instated as an amateur (October 2007); and is now enjoying success at the state and regional amateur level.

But don’t expect to find Biestecker playing casual weekend rounds. 

"I would probably like to bird hunt — whether it's goose, duck or pheasant — than play [golf]," he said. "I play golf to compete, that's what is so much fun about this. I'm not one to go out and play a four- or five-hour round on a Saturday morning. There are too many other things I like to do as much. But I like this competition and what it does to you. I can stand to be mediocre at hunting or fishing, but in golf I can't. [When] I make a bogey, I know I should have done better."

Biestecker is not joking about the hunting, either. Next month the 35-year-old Staunton, Va., resident is headed to South Dakota for the first time to hunt pheasant.

"Check back with me on that, I may have a few stories to tell afterward," said Biestecker, who is a Ducks Unlimited committee chairman. "I can't wait."

By reaching the third round of the U.S. Mid-Amateur at Shadow Hawk Golf Club, Biestecker is in the hunt for amateur golf's version of big game. After defeating Gavin Parsons (2 and 1) and Mark Miller (4 and 3) in the opening two rounds, Biestecker was scheduled to meet reigning two-time champion Nathan Smith, who has won a record 14 straight matches, in the third round Tuesday afternoon.

"I had not touched a club for two weeks before I showed up, not since the [Mid-Am] qualifier," said Biestecker, the winner of the Virginia State Golf Association’s 2008 and 2009 Mid-Amateurs and 2011 Four-Ball Championship. "I probably play a lot less golf than most of the guys in the field here."

Even more unique is that Biestecker, who played for noted swing instructor Hank Haney during his days at SMU, appears to improve his game through osmosis. As an agent for sports management firm Blue Giraffe Sports since 2007, Biestecker has access to such clients as PGA Tour players Jhonattan Vegas, Stuart Appleby, Heath Slocum, Paul Goydos and first-time LPGA Tour winner Lexi Thompson, the 2008 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion and 2010 USA Curtis Cup participant. 

"I think I am a far better player now than I was coming out of college simply because I have the opportunity to be around some of the best players in the world and watch what they do," he said. "And if you watch them, they simplify the game. There is nothing overly complicated about how they play the game. I try to practice by watching them and it's certainly provided me a greater understanding of the game."

Not even that, though, will get Biestecker out on the course more than he wants — unless, of course, he continues to win.

Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work has appeared previously on USGA championship websites.  

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