PhD student Jarrod Smith will compete with the best post-college golfers in North America this week after qualifying for the 42nd U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.
Captain of the Lancer men’s varsity golf team, Smith is one of only four Canadians to qualify for the tournament. Stroke play at the New York tournament begins Saturday, with the field of 264 to be cut to 64 for match play beginning Monday, Sept. 11.
“These players are all really, really good, so just making it out of stroke play would be an accomplishment,” said Smith. “Of course, the competitor in me would like to win, but realistically, a good week for me would be making it to match play, then making it as far as I can.”
The U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, better known as the Mid-Am, is organized by the United States Golf Association and is the leading annual tournament for golfers aged 25 and older. It takes place at Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Scarborough, N.Y, and Fenway Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y., both about a 10-hour drive away from Smith’s home in LaSalle.
The winner of the Mid-Am gets to play in the Masters, one of the major tournaments in professional men's golf.
It’s the first time Smith — now 26 — has been old enough to qualify before the cut-off date. To secure a spot at the Mid-Am, he tied for second out of 90 players at the Moors Golf Club in Portage, Mich., securing one of only three spots.
Smith, who has a handicap index of +4, will be representing the Essex Golf and Country Club and the Lancer men’s varsity team, where he has been the captain for five years.
Smith has been golfing as long as he can remember, but started entering tournaments at 14. He played in the Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship and in university national championships, and has won several club championships in the area.
When he’s not golfing, Smith can be found in kinesiology professor Joel Cort’s ergonomics and biomechanics lab.
Smith was working in the lab’s grad office Tuesday afternoon when in his usual self-effacing way, he shared his quiet excitement about the tournament.
“This is a world-class event,” he said. “Just qualifying to go is a thrill.”