PARAMUS, N.J. – On Luke Gutschewski’s Iowa State bio page, there is a graphic that lists a few interesting nuggets about the sophomore from Elkhorn, Nebraska:
Favorite club? Putter.
Favorite golf course? Butler National.
Favorite PGA Tour player? Scott Gutschewski.
“What was I supposed to put there?” Luke said with a laugh.
Good point. Scott Gutschewski is a 45-year-old who has won twice on the Korn Ferry Tour, in 2003 and 2008, and played six seasons on the PGA Tour, including this season. He’s also Luke’s dad.
It’s not uncommon in these elite amateur fields to find sons of Tour pros. In this 312-competitor U.S. Amateur, you have Carson Herron, Tim Herron’s 20-year-old kid who last year was Mountain West Freshman of the Year at New Mexico. But it’s rare that you have the son of a player currently on Tour.
“More than anything,” Luke says of his dad, “seeing him be competitive with the best players in the world, and then him coming home, playing with him and realizing that my good is good enough – my bad might not be good enough, but my good is good enough to be wherever I want to be in golf – it helps the self-belief knowing that I can compete against him and he’s out there every week playing against the best in the world.”
This week at Ridgewood Country Club, Luke finds himself teeing it up opposite the best amateurs in the world, guys such as Ludvig Aberg and Gordon Sargent and Austin Greaser. And he’s beating them.
The younger Gutschewski shot 3-under 68 Monday in his first career U.S. Amateur round to share the first-round lead of the 36-hole stroke-play portion with Louisville grad Chris Francoeur, Oklahoma State’s Hazen Newman, Kentucky’s Campbell Kremer and Stanford’s Michael Thorbjornsen.
He birdied Nos. 9, 11, 15 and 17, the first two he called especially good. No. 11, the 255-yard par-3, was shortened considerably to 206 yards for Monday’s lid-lifter, and Gutschewski hit 6-iron to 12 feet. His birdie at No. 15 was a tap-in.
Most importantly, though, he avoided the big numbers (one bogey) and Ridgewood’s juicy rough better than most. Not that he wasn’t equipped to handle the thick stuff; he spent much of the weekend finding the best way to hit shots out of the rough, especially around these small, firm greens.
“I’d never seen anything like this rough-wise,” he said. “Luckily, I didn’t need to chip much, but the few times I did, it was nice to feel confident when I opened the face up.”
How to prepare for tournaments is something he learned from Scott, going back to the days when Luke, the oldest of Scott’s four children, was just 5 years old and would join Scott and his caddie for early-evening practice rounds out on Tour. He remembers the cut-down putters in his family’s basement that he’d use for such occasions.
“I didn’t think it was cool back then because it was just my life,” Luke recalls, “but looking back on it, it was a pretty neat experience. I was learning how to be a professional, even then.”
Over the years, Luke has graduated to caddying on occasion for his dad. One tournament on the KFT a few years ago, after Luke’s sophomore year of high school, stands out: Scott missed the cut in Raleigh, but instead of heading to the next stop early or home, father and son made a quick trip to Pinehurst. They played a round at nearby Tobacco Road, and it marked the first time that Luke, fresh off winning a state high school championship, tied his dad.
“We then headed out for an emergency nine, and he beat me by one, I think it was 31 to 32,” Luke remembers it.
This season, Luke, despite his college obligations (he logged 30 rounds as a freshman for the Cyclones), was able to attend a handful of Scott’s 23 PGA Tour starts, including the RSM Classic, John Deere Classic and RBC Canadian Open. He caddied at the latter.
Luke also was in Omaha at the KFT regular-season finale last week before heading to New Jersey. Scott was the last man in the field, playing down to get some reps before beginning play in the KFT Finals this week in Boise (Scott finished No. 176 in FedExCup points).
So, barring a surprise weekend run by Luke, Scott likely won’t be in attendance this week, as he still has his own competitive-golf path to keep forging.
In this case, for both father and son, there are still bio pages to add to.