by Tom Cade, Editor
After holing out on the 36th hole of U.S. Open Final Qualifying, Jesse Schutte walked briskly to the scoring tent, signed his card, and then pulled out his smartphone – but not to call people to boast about what he’d just shot. Rather, his wife Lupita was three days past due for the birth of their first child, and he was wondering if he needed to race home.
After confirming there was no news yet from home, Schutte relaxed, and started to let sink in what he had just accomplished.
The native of Florence, Ore. shot rounds of 73-66 to earn co-medalist honors at Final Qualifying, held June 5 at Tacoma Country and Golf Club.
He will now tee it up at the 2023 U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club on June 15-18.
For Schutte, 35, it will be his first time playing in the U.S. Open. It has been a long journey.
Born and raised in Florence, Schutte was a shooting star as a youth. He won the 3A individual high school state championship three years in a row (2004-2006), playing for Siuslaw High School. (He would later be inducted into the Siuslaw Athletic Hall of Fame.) He competed in several Oregon Amateurs and other local championships. In the 2006 U.S. Amateur Public Links, held that year at Gold Mountain GC in Bremerton, Wash., Schutte, still a high school senior, beat vaunted defending champion Clay Ogden in the Round of 64 before falling to eventual champion Casey Watabu in the Round of 32.
Schutte played on the University of Oklahoma men’s golf team for two years, then transferred to Oregon State and played just half a season before deciding to turn pro.
“I’ve been playing all over the world ever since,” said Schutte, after punching his ticket for this year’s U.S. Open. “I’ve been everywhere. Mini tours, qualifying schools, state opens, anywhere I could play.”
Schutte moved back to Florence two years ago. His home course there is Florence Golf Links, and after discovering the course didn’t have a junior program, Schutte collaborated with the course’s PGA general manager, Nik Remer, to start up a program for kids.
“It was a bit of a shocker to me, to find out they didn’t have a junior program, or a high school golf team,” Schutte said. “I told Nik, ‘Hey, we need to start a program.’ If these programs had not been available to me when I was a kid, I would not have been able to play golf, or done anything close to what I’ve done in my life.”
He also learned that somewhere along the line his old high school, where he had won all his state titles, had dropped its golf teams. “I really don’t know what happened,” he said. “So Nik and I re-started the golf teams there as well. They won their district in just their second year back. It’s good to see this happen for the local kids.”
Schutte had made it to this Final Qualifying by making it through a Local Qualifying last month, shooting a 1-under 70 at Oswego Lake Country Club in Oregon.
He had been a first alternate at the 2013 U.S. Open, but didn’t make it in that year. “It’s always been a real sour feeling,” he says.
In looking at his medal for being co-medalist, Schutte said, “I deserve this. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Well played, Jesse.