APL Champion Memories: Chris Wollmann (1995)

Chris Wollmann won the 1995 U.S. Amateur Public Links at Stow Acres C.C. in Stow, Mass. (USGA/Robert Walker) 
By David Shefter, USGA
July 9, 2014

Chris Wollmann, 39, of Medina, Ohio, claimed the 1995 U.S. Amateur Public Links title at Stow Acres Country Club in Stow, Mass., with a 4-and-3 victory over Bill Camping in the 36-hole final. Wollmann, then a student at Ohio State, later played on the 1997 USA Walker Cup Team and eventually turned professional, competing three seasons on the Nationwide (now Web.com) Tour. He retired from tour golf in 2006 and has been working at a friend’s insurance agency ever since.

What are your memories of that championship?

It’s funny because a good friend of mine [Damon DeMarco] was my caddie, and when you called about this, we chatted for about 45 minutes thinking about that week. We had a lot of laughs. We grew up at the same muni course [in Parma, Ohio] and went to Ohio State together. We remembered all the crazy stuff. We were in Boston, so we drove around and looked at Fenway Park. One night we ended up in Roxbury … And we get back to the hotel room and there were like four shootings that night. We didn’t know what we were doing. We just wanted to take a look at the town. The night before the final match, the owners of the course rented a bus and we went to a Red Sox game.

Was there a particular match that stood out or a particular moment from the championship?

I don’t remember much about the matches. I remember the first tee shot I hit in the final. It went 67 yards. There was a rock off the left side of the tee and there was a lake beside the rock. I just flat out rolled it. It was terrible. I remember [Damon looked at me] and we just started laughing.

Did you think, ‘this is not going to be my day,’ or was the thought it’s a 36-hole match and there is plenty of golf left?

I guess when you know it’s 36 holes, [it’s OK]. I just remember I played well that entire week. There was a [third-round] match that went to extra holes. And I vaguely remember making some putts to send it to extra holes. I think I eagled the first hole. It was a par 5.

How does winning the APL change your life?

That kind of led to Augusta [National and the Masters], which brought up a whole other week of memories. Then I played the [U.S.] Open at Congressional [in Bethesda, Md.] in 1997. You get exempt through the first round of U.S. Open qualifying. And then that led to the Walker Cup. That week led to all those other weeks, which were obviously great experiences. My amateur days, when I look back, were the best days for golf. I enjoyed professional golf, but amateur golf … was fun.

What’s it like for a college student to receive a Masters invitation?

The Masters invitation is framed here in my office. It was awesome. I remember going down in December playing [practice rounds]. We used to do spring break at Ohio State in Myrtle Beach, [S.C.], and I remember driving over to Augusta and playing four [practice rounds]. The whole thing was unbelievable. And when you think about it, it all started that week.

Did you have expectations that you would win the APL?

I remember we didn’t even pack enough clothes. I remember calling my dad asking if he wanted to go. So, we hopped in the car and drove to Boston. The odd thing is that year I didn’t qualify in Cleveland. I went to New York. There was an All-American banquet and we played at Bethpage, but that was before the renovation. I thought this place was a little rough.

The APL is being retired after the 2014 championship. Do you have any thoughts about the retirement of this long-standing competition that dates back to the 1920s?

I remember we played at Kearney Hill [in Lexington, Ky.] in 1997 and I looked at the field and Trip Kuehne played. You had Randy Leen, who I knew from Ohio and was a private-course member. They all entered from their college courses. The spirit of the event kind of got lost.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer with the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.

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