How they fared
Wisconsin’s qualifiers enjoyed the experience
mong the 300-plus players in the 2011 U.S. Amateur were Wisconsin natives and current residents
David Christian (Oconomowoc), Tom Halla (Colgate) and
Jack Schultz (Whitefish Bay). Also in the field were natives
who have since migrated to warmer climates, including
Adam Austreng (Carlsbad, Calif.), Preston Dembowiak
(Summerfeld, N.C), Nick Gilliam (Gainesville, Fla.), as well
as former Milwaukee Brewer Mike Ignasiak (who resides in
Saline, Mich.). While they failed to qualify for the match
play portion of the championship, their experiences were
What are your thoughts on Erin Hills?
Halla: It is on such a vast piece of property. On a lot of holes,
you don’t know where you are in relation to the clubhouse
or road with all the valleys and the actual kettle formations
from the glaciers. So many modern day courses are built
from scratch, so to speak. And here’s one that’s just always been there – it just needed some tees and greens.
Schultz: It’s definitely longer and has that all-natural look
and feel. With the tee boxes on top of hills, you get some
great views of the area, especially on hole No. 5. You can
see almost the entire course from there.
Christian: It’s a lot longer. And the grass they use is a little
bit different than the bent grass we play – the fescue
grass hits your eye a little bit differently. The lines are also
different. On tree-lined courses, I’m used to hitting it between the trees, but out there it looks a lot more open.
But I loved the course. I caddied out there all summer, so
I knew pretty well what to expect going in.
How did the crowd size effect you?
Halla: The gallery was just amazing. Playing in front of
people is one thing, but when you know every person in
the gallery, that can get a little overwhelming. But it was
just such a neat experience.
Schultz: I had never played in the U.S. Amateur before,
and to be able to play the first one at home was a good
experience. There were more people than I expected, but
it was nice to have family and friends around rooting for
me. I learned a lot about playing in front of people in tournaments like that. I will definitely be able to put that to use
Christian: I enjoyed the crowd. I thought it was great having a lot of friends and family out there. It didn’t really
bother me at all. I kind of expected there to be a lot of
people out there. It’s fun getting a little applause when
something goes well.
Overall, how do you think you played?
Halla: The fescue at Erin Hills is a lot of fun to play off of,
very challenging. The lies were so tight around the
greens, so constantly trying to get up and down to a
tabletop from those tight lies was very difficult. I can see
how you become good with your putter from off the
green playing on that type of grass. I definitely used mine
a lot. And I played with a 16-year-old – a great kid and a
really good player. It didn’t diminish how I’m capable of
playing, being on the older side of the average age, but I
would’ve liked to have played better.
Schultz: I wasn’t very sharp with everything. My pitching
© USGA/JOHN MUMMERT
© USGA/CHRIS KEANE
was off. I didn’t hit it as solidly as I’d hoped to, and I
missed a lot of putts. It wasn’t bad, just everything was a
little off. Playing courses like
that and against players like
that, you really have to be on
your game in order to do well.
Christian: You run into trouble
when you miss those greens in the
wrong spots. If you miss the green
even by a little bit you can be
chipping uphill. But it was
nothing but a great time
all week. Playing against
and with some of those
guys that are the best
players in the world was a
really cool experience.