The US Golf Association decides who qualifies for amateur status, and who doesn’t. They’re probably not going to jump on you if you lay down $100 with your beer buddies on your foursome. But if you put offer up $1 million to whoever can beat you in some sort of bizarre golf/poker challenge, you might have some trouble.
Accordingly, Dusty Schmidt is taking the USGA to court for denying him amateur status. He wants to be allowed to play in an upcoming series of events. They want to make the point that you can’t be a millionaire and sponsor your own mini-tourney, and still compete with struggling amateurs.
Schmidt was a promising golfer whose professional career was ended by a freak heart attack at age 23. While recuperating he turned to online poker. Now, five years later, he estimates he’s made $3 million gambling online and lives well, but still wants to golf competitively.
In April, Schmidt introduced the “Million Dollar Challenge” to gain publicity for his website. He would bet $1 million that no one could beat him in 72 holes of golf and at poker. He eventually rescinded the challenge, but not before the USGA got wind.
“Having promoted his prize money golf/poker contest for two months and having obtained tremendous publicity for himself, his entrepreneurial Web site and his prize money scheme, Mr. Schmidt cannot unring the bell no matter how hard he tries,” the USGA said in court documents.
What do you have to say for yourself, Dusty?
“I consider myself a golfer that more or less stumbled into this poker thing, and along the way picked up what I believe are these misconceptions about who I am and what I do.”
“At the end of the day, I’m trying to get my amateur status back. I am trying to fight for my right NOT to make money playing golf, basically.”