For some, it's a rite of passage that a father and son take a leisurely stroll around a golf course. There's a couple of shots that go awry. Some will be a surprise. Some make you laugh. And, that rare shot, will keep you coming back.
For Paul Metzendorf, being with his son, Dan, is more than fun and games. You see, Paul is Dan's caddy.
"It's really interesting being a caddy and a father," Paul said. "It's a little bit different because my son played at Kent State (University) with Ben Curtis, who was a teammate and roommate of his. He's playing high-competitive golf, so he takes it very seriously. As I found out with professional golfers, sometimes they don't make a mistake. It's the caddy that makes a mistake. I really don't like to lead him astray on anything. He typically does most of the figuring out of his yardages and how he's going to play. A lot of times, he'll confirm with me if this is a good play to hit this iron or this 3-wood or driver off the tee."
Special to Tribune Chronicle
Howland native Dan Metzendorf stands next to the scoreboard at the U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion qualifier earlier this month. Metzendorf will play in the Mid-Am beginning on Sept. 8 in Illinois.
Dan, a 1998 Howland High School and 2002 KSU graduate, qualified for this year's USGA Mid-Amateur Sept. 8-13 at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Ill.
Dan shot 2-under 69 to qualify on Aug. 13 at Quail Hollow Country Club on the Weiskopf Course and take medalist honors.
"When I was warming up the morning of the Mid-Am, I wasn't feeling particularly fantastic," Dan said. "I've been playing a lot of golf, especially for me, nowadays that I have a family and whatnot. I started off kind of ugly. My first couple of tee shots were not very true. I made some pars and bogeyed my second hole. I had to chip out from behind a tree. I thought, in the beginning, it would not be my day.
"But I was fortunate enough to hit some better shots, hung in there, made a birdie to get back to even. Then, get another birdie to get to 1-under and kept holding it together."
Dan was playing with Windham's Robert Schustrich and Wexford, Pa.'s Douglas Stadler. Both shot 1 under and also qualified for the Mid-Am.
"You figure 1-under was a good score," Dan said. "The trick is when you're 1-under with seven holes to play, that is, you're like any other sport, you're staring at the clock, just hoping you'll still be winning when it reaches all zeros.
"As the round went on, the other guys in my group were also playing pretty well. There were three of us and there were four spots total. As we were coming down the stretch, I started hitting even better tee shots and getting into that old, competitive mode. I was fortunate to birdie my 17th hole to get to 4-under, which was a huge relief for me. I wanted to go into that last hole knowing I was a couple shots clear and had a little bit more breathing room."
This isn't the first time Dan has played in a national tournament. He made the final 32 at the 1998 USGA Junior Amateur and qualified for the 2003 U.S. Amateur Public Links, 2008 Mid-Amateur and the 2009 U.S. Amateur.
Unlike the U.S. Amateur, which is peppered with a field of college players aspiring to play professionally, the Mid-Am is for those 25 or older.
Dan, 32, works for Sherwin Williams in Cleveland and lives in Medina with his 5 1/2-month old son Landon and wife, Teresa. Dan plays nine holes during the week and tries to squeeze in 18 on the weekend, which is a far cry from what he was accustomed to growing up.
"I have a full-time job," Dan said. "I just don't play golf all day or anything like that. It's a challenge to find time to play a lot of competitive golf. This tournament, it's something that you're playing for something really big. The winner of the Mid-Am gets an invitation to the Masters, which is about as big as it gets in amateur golf."
But, he's thankful that he gets to play.
"My wife is very accommodating to let me try to chase the ghost a little bit," Dan said.
Going out to Illinois will be a family affair.
"Right after I qualified, I was really ecstatic, called my wife and shared the good news and everything," Dan said. "Then, the thought shifted to how are we going to do this? My wife wants to go out and watch and what are we going to do with babysitting. What we're going to do is have her parents come out. We're going to have my dad come out and it's going to be a big family outing, try to have everybody take a part in this. The reality is the odds for these tournaments are stacked against you. I've played in enough of them at this point of my life, just enjoy the fact that I'm there and enjoy the atmosphere at those national championships. They treat you like professional golfers.
"It's a very special tournament. I'm excited to have as much of my family share in that experience."