Many of the players in this year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship are decorated.
But when it comes to being decorated,Keith Humerickhouse doesn’t have many peers.
With a variety of body art down both arms, Humerickhouse, 37, of Eagle, Colo., admitted he looks out of place at the pristine Country Club of Birmingham.
His game, however, certainly belongs. Humerickhouse dispatched Grant Skyllas, of Wyomissing, Pa., 7 and 5, in the most lopsided first-round match on Monday.
Interestingly enough, Skyllas was also sporting a tattoo on one of his triceps.
"I said, ‘Wow, how did we get this pairing?’" said Humerickhouse. "Obviously, I stand out a little bit."
Humerickhouse began accumulating body art 13 years ago and 90 percent of his tattoos have personal meaning. One is his last name, another is an ode to his father. He also has a caricature of his daughter, Addison, now 5 years old. There’s even one of a golfer.
Humerickhouse came to Alabama on a hot streak – he won his fourth consecutive Colorado Mid-Amateur two weeks prior to his arrival – and on Monday, the left-handed swinger played the equivalent of 2-under-par golf, with the usual match-play concessions, over the 13 holes.
That isn’t bad for a guy who doesn’t have much time to play between his wood-flooring business and his young family. In fact, work and family were the reasons why, six years ago, Humerickhouse – then a professional – filed paperwork to get reinstated as an amateur.
"We had a kid on the way and I had to step up to the plate," said Humerickhouse. "I can’t be out there missing cuts and spending money playing golf. I was supporting a family."
He regained his status in 2009 and qualified for his first USGA championship in 2010, the U.S. Mid-Amateur, where he lost in the Round of 32 to Tim Mickelson in 19 holes at Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton, N.Y.
Humerickhouse was drawn to golf as a freshman at Palomar Junior College in near San Diego. His dream had been to play professional baseball, but after making the golf team, he immediately fell in love with the game.
At an amateur tournament in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., he made a hole-in-one on the 17th hole, which earned him a $10,000 prize. Humerickhouse, who was nearly broke at the time, took the money and became a professional.
Humerickhouse played a lot of mini-tour events with moderate success. Once his wife became pregnant, however, he decided to switch his focus to his fledgling wood-flooring business. A one-man show, he has clients in Beaver Creek, Vail Valley and Aspen.
"When I’m busy, I’m slammed," he said. "I’m a typical trunk-slam golfer. I show up at my course in Glenwood Springs and play nine holes after work. And I play a few state events when I can."
Humerickhouse now faces a second-round matchup on Tuesday morning against two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Tim Jackson.
Honor Thy Brother
Haymes Snedeker received a text message Sunday night from his younger brother, PGA Tour star Brandt Snedeker, that he would come to Birmingham if he could win his first-round match. With different jobs and lifestyles, the two don’t see each other very often.
On Sunday, Brandt helped the U.S. win the Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, while Haymes was qualifying for match play at the U.S. Mid-Amateur.
Brandt was too exhausted to catch a flight to see Haymes play his first-round match on Monday against Brad Valois. Unfortunately, the elder Snedeker suffered a 2-and-1 defeat.
"I know he was excited to come down here," said the 37-year-old Haymes, who works in real estate and is a part-time municipal judge in Fairhope, Ala., about 3½ hours south of Birmingham. "It’s a shame I couldn’t win one match."
When Haymes won the Golf Channel’s Big Break X in Boyne Highlands, Mich., five years ago, one of his prizes was a sponsor’s exemption into the PGA Tour’s Children’s Miracle Classic at Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., where he and his brother would compete in the same event for the first time since Brandt turned professional.
Haymes also received a vehicle and a free pass into PGA Tour Qualifying School, where he missed advancing out of the first stage. In 2010, he applied to become reinstated as an amateur.
As an amateur, Haymes advanced to the Round of 16 at the 2002 U.S. Amateur Public Links at The Orchards Golf Club in Washington, Mich., a championship Brandt would win the following year before helping to lift Tennessee to the USGA Men’s State Team Championship at Charles River C.C. in suburban Boston.
"His star was rising and mine was already fallen," said Haymes, who is four and a half years older. "My star had crashed and burned."
With two children, ages 7 and 5, and a full-time job as a real estate developer, Haymes has plenty to occupy him these days. On top of that, Snedeker serves the community a few times a month as a night municipal court judge.
Golf slides into available windows. In fact, he qualified for the Mid-Amateur while in Denver on business.
Realizing that a likely Masters invitation traditionally goes to the winner, Haymes knew his last chance of playing at Augusta National with his brother was through the Mid-Amateur, making his early exit even more disappointing.
Nevertheless, Snedeker enjoyed his first USGA championship in 11 years.
"This by far has been the best," said Snedeker. "The members here, they cater to amateur golf. They take as good a care of you here as they do in a PGA Tour event."
Scott Harvey was struggling all day with his putter, so he figured out a different way to beat his opponent. The 35-year-old from Greensboro, N.C., holed out a 7-iron approach shot from 163 yards for an eagle 2 on the 18th hole to register a dramatic 1-up win over Mitch Mercer.
It is the third time in the past few weeks that Harvey has knocked in a shot from the fairway. The other two instances occurred on his home course, Sedgefield Country Club, site of the PGA Tour’s annual Wyndham Championship.
"When you’re not putting well, just go ahead and make it, right?" said Harvey, a quarterfinalist in the 2010 Mid-Amateur. "It looked good the whole time. But I didn’t think I was going to make it."
Harvey faces Ken Tanigawa, of Phoenix, in the Round of 32 on Tuesday morning.
The 12-for-8 playoff for the final match-play spots ended with a bit of a plot twist. Scottish-born Ken Buchan, of Monroe, La., had a 55-foot birdie putt on the par-4 17th hole of the East Course when a USGA Rules official noticed that he had touched the line of putt (Rule 16-1).
The infraction cost Buchan two strokes and effectively ended the playoff on the second extra hole. Buchan recorded a 6 and, coupled with bogey 5s from Jay Whitby and Matt Parziale, allowed John Rudolph, Benjamin Campbell and Davis Boland to make the match-play draw with 4s.
On the first playoff hole, the par-4 16th, Mark Cusic, Doug Clapp, Bobby Delagrange, Michael Greene and Matthew Rosen all advanced with birdie 3s.
Odds and Ends
Thirty-nine of the 64 match-play qualifiers are reinstated amateurs … The average age of the 64 match-play draw was 37.23 … Garrett Rank, Mark Cusic and T.J. Shuart were the only match-play qualifiers to compete in the U.S. Amateur Public Links, U.S. Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur this year … Paul Simson, 62, is also playing in his third USGA championship, having teed it up in the U.S. Senior Open, USGA Senior Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur … Jerry Pate, the 1974 U.S. Amateur and 1976 U.S. Open champion, was on property to watch play. Pate is in town because the University of Alabama’s tournament, which is named the Jerry Pate Invitational, is taking place at nearby Old Overton Golf Club on Monday and Tuesday … Stan Gann’s 19-hole win over Joseph Benedetti was the only match to go extra holes.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer with the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.