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#TGW: Right Next Door

Aug. 8, 2014

By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word

As swan songs go, it remains to be determined whether Seth Reeves goes out with a bang, but he’s a lock to retire well fed as an amateur golfer.

When the U.S. Amateur Championship commences Monday-Sunday at the Atlanta Athletic Club (AAC), it will be different for Reeves. He’s played in hundreds of tournaments over the years, but the recent Georgia Tech graduate has walked the world’s biggest tourney just twice, and even with that there is no getting used to a field with 311 other golfers.

He’ll have a comfort zone all his own, though, because he lives next door.

The AAC is in Johns Creek, about 20 miles northeast of Atlanta. Reeves’ family home is in Suwanee, which is less than 10 miles away.

“I think it’s nice to be able to play in a tournament, and come home and have a home-cooked meal,” he said. “It will be pretty nice to come home and hang out with my family versus sitting around in a hotel room . . . nice that I don’t have to pay for a hotel, or travel, get on a plane.

“I can go play in the biggest tournament in the world and sleep in my own bed. It’s definitely a weird feeling [in the U.S. Amateur]. Everything is different, really nice, the course is in great shape, and it’s televised. You see cameras and there are hundreds of volunteers. It’s more like a PGA event than anything we play.”

Reeves, who graduated in May after helping the Yellow Jackets win the ACC title, and NCAA regional and four other tournaments before bowing out in the NCAA quarterfinals against Oklahoma State, will see familiar faces at the AAC.

And the place sure won’t be foreign to him.

Five-year Tech teammate Bo Andrews (each player redshirted a year on The Flats) is in the field, and so will be rising senior Ollie Schniederjans and incoming freshman Jacob Joiner, whom Reeves knows.

Unlike fellow recent Tech graduate and teammate Richy Werenski, who turned pro almost immediately after the NCAAs, Andrews and Reeves have followed different paths.

They’ve remained amateurs for different reasons: Andrews as he considers attending graduate school, perhaps at Tech, and Reeves because he wanted more time to sort out his pro future and he wanted to play in the world’s biggest golf tournament one more time since it will practically be in his back yard.

He’s played there several times, including this summer with Andrews – who has become a member at the AAC. The Riverside and Highlands courses at AAC (the U.S. Am needs two courses to run through so many golfers) are different from each other, and Reeves knows them both.

“I’ve played there last week because Bo is a member now,” he said. “In our [Tech] postseason, we’ve played there a couple times. And we played there once or twice a year in college, and a couple times in high school so I’m familiar with the courses.

“Highlands is definitely harder, has more challenging holes. The greens are tough. Riverside can hold its own; it’s long. Most of the other U.S. Am secondary courses are old-style, short, and they have to trick it up to make it tough.”

Players will play 18 holes over each course Monday and Tuesday (Reeves will go offer Highlands No. 1 at 8:15 a.m), and the field will then be cut to 64 for match play Wednesday-Sunday.

Reeves didn’t make the cut in 2011, but last year not only landed in the 64 but one a match play against Oklahoma State’s Jordan Nieubregge – who turned around and beat Reeves in match play at the NCAAs. They’re friends, actually.

There will be no dallying around after the U.S. Amateur. Reeves will turn pro soon after his tournament ends.

With plans to debut as a pro in eGolf events later this month in Lake Wylie, S.C., and next month in Gulfport, Miss., Reeves will prepare for a run through PGA Qualifying School this fall, beginning in September in Florence, S.C.

He will continue to live at home with his parents, older brother and younger sister before branching out as he lays down roots on the pro tour(s).

“I have an idea of where I will be heading,” he said. “Those conversations will be happening after the U.S. Am. I told everybody that’s when I’ll make decisions regarding sponsorships and an agent. I could have turned pro when Richy did after the NCAAs, but it was to my advantage to raise my stock with some companies, and I’ve done that.

“I didn’t see the point in traveling a lot, playing a bunch, and wearing myself out. I spent time with family, practiced working on my game, and here and there took a day off and enjoy time with friends, go experience other things. I went to Six Flags, little things like that . . . just something fun to get away from the game.”

After an intentionally light summer tournament schedule, the world’s No. 35-ranked amateur is gearing up to go big.

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell with Reeves – he’s a pretty sedate chap – but he’s revved up and ready to stripe ‘em for cash.

“There’s absolutely no anxiety; it’s all excitement. I’ve been dreaming about turning pro since I was 14 years old,” he said. “The fact that I’m maybe a week away from doing that is exciting. It’s kind of a relief.

“It’s just going to be a blast. I can’t wait to travel, and make a living playing the game that I love. I’m like a kid in a candy store.”

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