For most recreational golfers, playing in a USGA championship is the closest they’ll get to feeling what the pros feel on a weekly basis.
The course conditions are mint, and the pressure is intense. Just ask Subpar co-host Drew Stoltz, who, along with partner Drew Kittleson, finished runner-up for the second consecutive year at the USGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship.
The tournament, which was held this year at Kiawah Island Club in Kiawah Island, S.C., begins with two rounds of best-ball stroke play. Then the field is whittled down to the top 32 teams, who battle it out in match play. You have to win four consecutive matches to make it to the championship final — that’s a lot of golf in just five days.
In the championship match, Team Drew faced a dynamic duo in University of California at Berkeley players Aaron Du and Sampsonyunhe Zheng, who ultimately won the match 2&1. On this week’s episode of Subpar, both Stoltz and Kittleson delivered an insider’s perspective of what it’s really like to compete at the highest level of the amateur game.
“I thought if I was in better shape it would help, and it didn’t help at all,” Kittleson said. “We were just dragging by the end. No normal person can be in shape for that amount of golf. Your feet are just in shambles.”
Stoltz concurred, adding that a caddie’s tracker revealed they walked 18 miles during one day of play. Then of course, you have the elements. The wind blew consistently, especially during the match-play portion, leading to chapped lips and noses.
But the Drews persevered, and ended up facing Du and Zheng, the championship’s No. 1 seed, in the final.
Stoltz remarked that the teams they faced were more youthful this year, and it was tough to gain an inch.
“You just don’t have the loose shots you get from guys that work and have jobs,” Stoltz said. “The missed green with a 9-iron or something, that just happens when you’re not super sharp.”
“You gotta make those 20-footers,” Kittleson added. “They just made ’em.”
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Birdie Juice Get Amongst It Visor
The match was close throughout: tied at the turn until Du and Zheng went 1-up on 11 and 2-up on 13 with birdies. Kittleson and Stoltz fought back with a birdie of their own on 15, but Du and Zheng followed with another birdie on 16, and closed out the match on 17.
“I had four putts 10 feet or in, maybe 12 max, to win holes, and missed three of them,” Stoltz said.
Despite the fact that the Drews fell short for a second straight year, Stoltz said they relished the experience.
“It’s fun for us,” he said. “We want to win, we care, it sucked when we lost, but it’s also like, when we got done there, before some of our matches, like, okay, so here’s our options: we win, we keep going, we drink great wine tonight, have a great dinner, laugh, hang out. We lose, we go to work tomorrow. Let’s extend this as long as humanly possible.”
For more from Stoltz and Kittleson on their run at the 2023 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, check out the full interview below.