PARAMUS, N.J. – Perhaps it was the floral shirt, which made him easy to spot, but Andrew von Lossow was the most popular guy at The Ridgewood Country Club on Wednesday evening.
The 34-year-old from Spokane, Washington, couldn’t go more than a few seconds, it seemed, without someone coming up to congratulate him on his 3-and-2 upset of Michael Thorbjornsen – men, women, children, even an officer from the Paramus Police Department commended the affable von Lossow, now the oldest of the 32 players remaining at this 122nd U.S. Amateur.
“You’re the people’s golfer!” one admirer, who was with a buddy, told von Lossow as he shook his hand. “You earned a couple of fans today.”
That estimate seemed low. In fact, some would argue that if a spontaneous vote was held for Ridgewood’s club president, von Lossow would win – in a landslide.
But who is Andrew von Lossow, the colorful graphic designer who took down a player ranked 3,574 spots better than him in the World Amateur Golf Ranking?
Well, around Spokane, they call him the “Stovepipe Kid” because of his affinity for knocking down flags. But he spends most of his time creating logoed apparel and other designs for local pro shops and other businesses, including his own, Glen Cove Trading Co. He launched the company, along with community and lifestyle spinoffs Lead Tape Chronicles and Wet The Beak, starting in 2018.
Some reading this may be familiar with his work for The Shotgun Start podcast, as he designed T-shirts for this year’s U.S. Open and Players Championship, including the wildly popular “Gold Boy” shirt, which this writer may or may not own.
On Tuesday, von Lossow rocked a white hat with both LTC and WTB logos on it. He was, you could say, a walking billboard when he stepped on the tee for a 7:30 a.m. playoff. With 15 players vying for 11 spots, von Lossow knocked a 9-iron to 20 feet at Ridgewood's par-3 15th hole and two-putted for par to earn his Round-of-64 date with Thorbjornsen.
From there, von Lossow was better than advertised. Other than an accidental 90-yard squirter out of the rough on the ninth hole, the “Stovepipe Kid” flushed his Miura blades with frequency, jumping 2 up through four holes on young Thor before winning Nos. 10-12 to take control. A birdie at the difficult par-4 16th dropped the upset hammer.
“That was a blast,” von Lossow said. “It was like the NCAA tournament.”
Yes, anybody can beat anybody in the USGA’s oldest championship. Even the journeyman caddie and son of a clubmaker who played six months of college golf at Southwestern Oregon, a community college in Coos Bay, Oregon, just north of Bandon Dunes.
Von Lossow’s father, Jim, who handed his son a beer mid-interview, has worked with golf clubs for 40 years. He’s made and fixed clubs for Fred Couples and Bill Russell, and he got Andrew into the game – and influenced his son’s love of lead tape.
After graduating high school in 2006, Andrew von Lossow pursued a video-editing degree at Shoreline Community College. The only issue was Shoreline didn’t have a golf team, which is what led him to transfer to Southwestern Oregon.
“My tryout was nine holes,” von Lossow said.
His stay was brief, however, as he decided it was in his best career interest to seek a degree at a four-year university. He ended up finishing college at Eastern Washington, which only has a women’s golf team. In between years at EWU, von Lossow played the Dakotas Tour as an amateur and caddied at Yellowstone Club. He did that for an additional summer after completing school.
This is where things get meaty for the U.S. Amateur’s very own Johnny Cash. (I’ve been everywhere, man.)
“It’s quite a long story,” von Lossow admitted before starting it.
While caddying for Discovery Land Company’s properties, he met some owners of a corporate-outing video-editing company. They offered him a job in Nashville, Tennessee, which he accepted. There he joined Golf Club in Tennessee, where he won the club championship. When that got too pricey, he joined The Club at Fairvue, and won that club’s championship, too.
In 2016, he was let go from his video-editing job, so he headed back west. He ping-ponged around the California desert for a bit, including tony Hideaway and Madison clubs. He was one of the first four caddies at Summit Club in Las Vegas. He looped at Gozzer Ranch in Idaho, where one summer he was Janet Gretzky’s personal caddie.
“I think I counted up 12 different zip codes at one point,” von Lossow said of his two-year stint as a seasonal caddie.
Finally, four years ago, von Lossow settled in Spokane, where his parents also now live, to start his own business. He no longer caddies, but he has transitioned to playing more competitive golf.
“I just love tournament golf,” said von Lossow, who made his USGA debut earlier this year at the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball.
He estimates he’s tried to qualify for the U.S. Amateur a half-dozen times, including two years ago for Bandon Dunes, Southwestern Oregon’s home course, but sadly he fell a few strokes short. This year, though, he shot 9 under and co-medaled at The Home Course in DuPont, Washington, to earn his ticket to New Jersey.
Now, in his U.S. Amateur debut, he enters Thursday’s double-round marathon with a chance still to add to his national championship collection. He won the U.S. Hickory Open last year in Gearhart, Oregon. In the final round of that event, he shot even par – pretty good for hickory golf – on a 6,200-yard layout.
For comparison: Ridgewood, a par 71, tips out at nearly 7,500 yards.
Ridgewood is, no doubt, a big boy golf course, which yielded the worst medalist score in the history of the U.S. Amateur at only 3 under. Thick rough, firm and fast greens, 500-plus-yard par-4s; no offense, but someone with von Lossow’s credentials shouldn’t be doing what he did on Wednesday, taking down a projected PGA Tour star.
But then again, von Lossow has seemingly got the entire town of Paramus behind him.
“My goal was to just get into the top 64,” von Lossow said, “so this is huge.”
Now imagine what he – and the rest of us – will be thinking if the “Stovepipe Kid,” and now the “People’s Golfer,” somehow lifts the Havemeyer Trophy on Sunday.
Von Lossow likely won’t be able to slap any tape on the precious prize, but surely it’ll fit a few beers.
And he won't have to buy a single drink.