U.S. MID-AMATEUR
Eight golfers make field on Tuesday, have quick turnaround time to Houston September 16, 2011 By David Shefter, USGA

Richmond, Texas – When the thrice-delayed U.S. Mid-Amateur sectional qualifier in New Jersey finally concluded last Tuesday – 13 days after its originally scheduled date – the eight golfers who earned berths into the championship at Shadow Hawk Golf Club all had the same quandary.

Now what? questioned Jared Eglowsky, a 38-year-old from New York City.

For Eglowky, Matt Fields, Michael Stamberger, Gregg Angelillo, Drew McMahon, Marc Grinberg, Albert Oh and Brian Whitman, it was now time to frantically make last-minute travel arrangements.

With the championship set to start in four days, those fortunate eight weren’t spared much time to book air travel and hotel accommodations. For some, it even meant missing a practice round.

Eglowsky, in fact, made a mad dash for LaGuardia Airport to catch the last flight Tuesday night to Charleston, S.C., for a scheduled business meeting. Because of the qualifier, he had already missed an earlier flight.

By Wednesday night, the real estate executive had returned home, where he packed for the Mid-Amateur until 1 a.m. before catching a 5:45 a.m. flight Thursday with his wife from Newark to Houston, arriving in time to play a practice round at Shadow Hawk G.C. and Houstonian Golf & Country Club, the companion stroke-play qualifying venue.

By Saturday morning’s first round, the whirlwind had left Eglowsky a bit disheveled.

For me it was chaos, said Eglowsky of his four-day odyssey. I was really out of sorts [when we arrived in Houston]. And I am still out of sorts. I don’t even know where my golf swing is, unfortunately.

Eglowsky, who cashed in airline miles for his wife to attend the championship, opened with a 9-over 81 on Houstonian.

Things were a bit better for Fields, a high-yield analyst for Bank of America/Merrill Lynch who also lives in New York City. He had an airline credit for a previously cancelled flight, so the high expense of a last-minute ticket wasn’t too difficult to swallow.

The 28-year-old also qualified for last year’s Mid-Amateur at Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton, N.Y., and while he didn’t make the match-play cut, the experience prepared him for a second go-around.

I’m out here to have a good time, said Fields, who only walked nine holes of Houstonian G&C.C. before shooting a 2-over 74 on the course Saturday. He did get a practice round in at Shadow Hawk, where he’ll play Sunday.

The New Jersey Mid-Amateur sectional qualifier, which had been originally scheduled for Aug. 31 at Morris County Golf Club in Morristown, N.J., had been first postponed due to the effects of Hurricane Irene. More torrential rain the following week pushed back the date to Sept. 13. Because Morris County took in so much water, the Metropolitan Golf Association, which oversees the qualifier for the USGA, decided to move the venue to the Old Course at Trump National in Bedminster.

But due to all the changes and the quick turnaround time for qualifiers to fly to Houston, many players who originally signed up to qualify at the site chose to withdraw. Those who regularly fly know making last-second flight arrangements isn’t cheap.

It was just a little more expensive ticket than you like to buy, said Eglowsky, who is using this trip to Houston to get some business done in San Antonio. It will all work out.

Eglowsky is playing his first Mid-Amateur, although he qualified for the U.S. Amateur eight years ago at Oakmont Country Club outside of Pittsburgh. He actually was playing in a U.S. Mid-Amateur qualifier in Bedford, N.Y., the day of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. The next year, he earned alternate status for the Mid-Amateur at The Stanwich Club in Connecticut.

It’s just great to be here, said Eglowsky. I just love USGA events.

David  Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. E-mail him at dshefter@usga.org.