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Poker News | World Poker News

Golf and Poker Will Not Mix for Amateur Pro Dusty Schmidt

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His life revolved around golf until a health problem kept him from the courses, at which time he developed a secondary passion for online poker. But upon returning to golf, Dusty Schmidt was told that his status as an amateur golfer was revoked because of his poker activities. His fight with the U.S. Golf Association (USGA) has now gone into the court system, where Schmidt is in the appeals process to regain his status in the golf world while holding firm that his enthusiasm for poker should be allowed.

Schmidt wanted to golf since his youth and went onto the pro circuit after some college at the University of California Irvine, but when he suffered a heart attack at the age of 23, his dreams of golfing were put on indefinite hold. It was then, when he was confined to his home to heal, that he discovered online poker. He started as a losing player but eventually turned his initial $1,000 into $8,000 in the first month. Over the course of the next five years, he told USA Today that he made approximately $3 million in online poker.

In the process, Schmidt started a website, upon which he issued a “Million Dollar Challenge” in April of 2009 that offered $1 million to anyone who could beat him at 72 hours of combined golf and poker. The mere proposition, despite having found no takers, prompted the USGA, which he recently rejoined in order to play golf at the amateur level, to revoke his amateur status on June 11.

The USGA’s formal position noted that Schmidt’s poker challenge was “detrimental to the best interests of the amateur game,” and the organization asserted that it violated the rules related to gambling. “Having promoted his prize money golf/poker contest for two months and having obtained tremendous publicity for himself, his entrepreneurial Web site and his prize money scheme,” the court documents read, “Mr. Schmidt cannot unring the bell no matter how hard he tries.”

Schmidt responded with a court case, and after representing himself in the federal court action, he lost. However, he has not given up hope yet. He is in the process of filing an appeal, though he lost another battle in the meantime, as his request for a preliminary restraining order to have his amateur status with the USGA reinstated during the appeal was denied by the U.S. District Court judge in Portland, Oregon.

“At the end of the day,” said Schmidt, “I’m trying to ge my amateur status back. I am trying to fight for my right NOT to make money playing golf, basically. I just want to play golf, and I believe I should be allowed to play golf… I consider myself a golfer that more or less stumbled into this poker thing, and along the way picked up what I believe are these misconceptions about who I am and what I do. I think that doesn’t sit well with the USGA.”

Whether he will continue to pursue an appeal remains to be determined. But what is clear is that the USGA has drawn a line between players who claim status in their organization and the activities they choose to do off the golf course.

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