The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

John Augenstein talks Masters, Walker Cup after historic season

The senior fell just short of being on top of the amateur golf world in the US Open, but he has even larger stages ahead of him.
Photo credit Chris Keane, USGA.

John Augenstein isn’t your average college senior. While many of his peers are just starting to think about their masters degrees, for Augenstein, Masters couldn’t have a more different meaning.

Coming off a strong runner-up performance at the 2019 U.S. Amateur Finals at Pinehurst Golf Club, the Owensboro, Kentucky native booked his ticket to Augusta for the 2020 Masters Tournament. It’s an unthinkable accomplishment for any amateur, but Augenstein appears largely unfazed.

“I don’t think it has set in all the way in yet,” he said. “You know, playing in the Masters is every kid’s dream and having that opportunity is gonna be pretty special. When the time comes, I’ll feel the magnitude of what it means to be an amateur in the Masters, but right now I haven’t thought about it a whole lot. My focus has really just shifted towards the Walker Cup and getting back with the team and getting this fall season going.”

With his second-place finish at Pinehurst, Augenstein claimed a spot on the U.S. Walker Cup team. The U.S. Team will be competing in match play against some of the best amateur golfers in Great Britain and Ireland as they tee off this Saturday, Sept. 7, at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England. 

“You expect them to give it all they have,” Augenstein said about his competition across the pond. “They certainly want to beat us on home soil. There’s gonna be big crowds of people mostly rooting against us, and I love that and feed off it. I’m excited to play.” 

Augenstein attributes much of his recent success to a strong support network of friends, family and Vanderbilt coach Scott Limbaugh. Throughout his Vanderbilt career, Augenstein has taken both a physical and mental approach to perfecting his craft. 

“Golf, like any sport, is an imperfect game so you’re always gonna go through ups and downs of how you’re playing,” he said. “As I’ve gotten older I started understanding that it is just golf, it’s not a perfect game. I talk a lot with Coach Limbaugh and the people around me about ways I need to improve. Golf is always a continuation, so you’re always getting better or you’re getting worse.”

Growing up in Owensboro, Augenstein was named Kentucky’s Mr. Golf in 2015, following in the footsteps of his mentor, Justin Thomas, who won the award in 2009. Both hailing from the Bluegrass State, Augenstein and 2017 PGA Champion Thomas have developed a close friendship centered around the game of golf.

“Over the last five years, I’ve gotten to be close friends with Justin Thomas and he’s been more of a mentor and also a guy I really look up to,” said Augenstein. “We talk about things I’m going through and things to expect in the future. I try to link up with him once or twice a year just to hangout.”

With advice from a ten-time PGA champion and tremendous support from his team, John Augenstein is approaching the game with more confidence than ever before. As he enters his senior season at Vanderbilt, he reflects on his time in Nashville and what lies ahead.

 “Golf is the thing that I’ve devoted my life to. It’s not everything, because I don’t think your sport should ever mean everything to you in your life, but it’s as close as it can be to everything. I just want to be the number one player in the world in amateur golf and someday professional golf. My goals drive me every day and I want to be the best at all aspects of the game.”

Going into this weekend’s tournament, Augenstein has high expectations for both himself and the U.S. Team. Considering his 17-3-1 match play record since 2017, those high expectations certainly aren’t unfounded. He is sure to bring his competitive fire and poised demeanor as he battles some of the best amateurs in the world. Following the Walker Cup, John Augenstein will return to the Vanderbilt men’s golf team and begin training for the pinnacle of his amateur career, the 2020 Masters Tournament.  

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About the Contributor
JP Hefner, Former Staff Writer
JP Hefner (‘21) was a sports writer for The Vanderbilt Hustler. He has been covering Vanderbilt sports since his sophomore year. JP majored in economics and history in the College of Arts and Science. He hails from Austin, Texas, and is a die-hard Longhorns fan. In addition to writing, he does stand-up comedy and plays fiddle for a local Nashville group.
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