BROOKLINE, Mass. “Admit it, you’re jealous of Stewart Hagestad. Two weeks ago, the best mid-amateur in the world successfully defended his title at the Anderson, a prestigious two-man event at Winged Foot. (“I had a good partner.”) This week, thanks to his second US Mid-Amateur win last fall, he made it to the US Open.
It wasn’t the first time either. Hagestad made it to the 2017 US Open with his first Mid-Am win and then managed to qualify each of the following two years. He played the Masters twice and was a weak amateur in 2017. Last month, he won the Coleman Invitational mid-am event in Seminole. Last year he won the Crump Cup, another big mid-morning event in Pine Valley. He was the only mid-morning in three consecutive United States Walker Cup teams. This week he made the cut at the Country Club. It was a hell of a race.
“I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought possible in the amateur game,” says Hagestad, 31, upbeat despite a 79 shot in the third round that left him deep in the standings. He plays the first duet with Harris English on Sunday at 8:49.
He is optimistic because he ignores social media chatter. Hagestad is an easy target. Tall, handsome, polite, well-spoken, a member of several exclusive clubs – Los Angeles Country Club, host of next year’s US Open, and Deepdale on Long Island – and, according to Keyboard Warriors, a golfer professional pretending to be half-amateur.
“I’m now at the point where I don’t even look at Twitter anymore,” says Hagestad. “I really try not to. If there are 100 comments made on social media, 99 of them could be great and very encouraging, and even if there is a negative one, it still makes wrong.
It is true that Hagestad has not worked a traditional schedule for half a dozen years. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t work at all. After graduating from USC in 2013, where he was a solid but unspectacular college player, Hagestad traveled to New York to work as an investment analyst at KTR Capital Partners. He moved to Oak Tree Residential, then returned to California, where hd worked at Merrill Lynch, Crescent Capital and Houlihan Lokey. He has been in the USC Marshall School of Business MBA program for two years and has interned at Platinum Equity during the summers.
There are, however, gaps in the chronology of his curriculum vitae; Hagestad had the luxury of taking breaks to focus on his golf. It’s possible because of a financial safety net that most don’t have. Hagestad knows it. It’s not a secret. He does not claim to have been chained to a desk all year, looking for an hour here or there to hit balls. He insists, however, that his focus changes seasonally.
“I don’t really play a ton between October and March,” he says. “The last two years I was in school. Before that, I worked eight months, then I played for four. I gave up on promotions and salary increases. I made Dean’s List in two out of four semesters of business school, and passed the SIE exam after graduation.
“My whole month of February was from 7 to 10 a.m. doing interviews, then classes until 2 or 3 a.m. I understand that working 8am to 6pm is very different, but I like to think I was pretty good at balancing it all out. I had a unique opportunity and I took it.
Therein lies the shorthand explanation for Hagestad’s remarkable amateur career: he knows how lucky he is to have the flexibility he has. Do you blame him for having taken advantage of it?
As for what’s next: Hagestad will travel to Chicago in July for a 30-day training for a new job at BDT Capital Partners, then return to New York while BDT builds its office in Florida. The plan is to move to South Florida when that happens. When it comes to golf, he has only one goal: to play on his fourth straight Walker Cup team next year at St. Andrews.
“Then I would like to go into the metaphorical sunset. I put a lot of effort and energy into golf, and I will always be passionate about this game. I don’t expect my game to stay at the same level in the future; that would not be realistic. But I am excited for the upcoming chapters in the future.