The Hollywood way for this story to unfold would be for Jay Blasi to qualify for the U.S. Amateur Golf Championship to be played next month at Chambers Bay on Puget Sound, a course Blasi played a large role in creating.
He’d play in the championship — the biggest amateur tournament in the world — and maybe even win. At some point between qualifying and holding the trophy, Blasi would marry his sweetheart on the 15th tee at Chambers Bay, the most scenic spot on a breathtaking course.
It’s a story Hollywood would like. The odd thing is, it could happen. It probably won’t, real life being real life and golf being golf, but it could. In any case, the wedding is a definite go.
Blasi, 32, a former Middleton High School golfer and UW-Madison graduate, has quite a week ahead of him.
Monday, he will play a 36-hole tournament at the Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, Calif., trying to earn a spot in the U.S. Amateur Aug. 23-29 at Chambers Bay, the spectacular new course outside Tacoma, Wash., designed by the Robert Trent Jones Jr. firm, where Blasi is project architect.
Saturday, on the course at Chambers Bay, Blasi will wed Amy Spittle, whom he met through his Chambers Bay connection. Spittle works for KemperSports, which manages the course.
If there is a fairy tale quality to all this, well, Blasi has been pinching himself for more than two years now.
Chambers Bay opened to rave reviews in June 2007, and then, in February 2008, the United States Golf Association stunned the golf world by announcing the course would host the 2015 U.S. Open and the 2010 U.S. Amateur.
New golf courses just don’t get U.S. Open tournaments.
Nobody was more thrilled than Blasi, who when he was a senior at Middleton was interviewed by The Capital Times and asked to name his career goal.
Blasi replied, “To design a golf course that would play host to the U.S. Open.”
Not many high school kids dream about being golf course architects, but Blasi has doodled golf holes since he could hold a pencil. His golf nut dad, Jac Blasi, brought a set of miniature plastic clubs into the hospital nursery when Jay was born.
Golf course architecture is a notoriously difficult field to break into. Blasi studied landscape architecture at UW-Madison and did a couple of golf-related independent study projects.
On graduating, Blasi wrote letters to every one of the 100 or so golf architecture firms in the country. They weren’t form letters; he tailored his pitch to each company’s needs.
He couldn’t get a job.
Blasi wound up in Baltimore, where a friend arranged a job for him in landscape architecture. Before too long, he caught a break. Bruce Charlton, a top architect at the Robert Trent Jones Jr. firm, which is headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., called and said they liked his resume. Blasi was hired in late summer 2001.
He worked his way up in the company, and by the time they landed the Chambers Bay deal, Blasi was project architect. He has always said the course was a team effort — with Jones, Charlton and another of the firm’s architects, Mike Gorman, deeply involved — but Jay spent as much time on it as anybody. He made about 50 trips back and forth from Palo Alto during the design process.
Now Blasi is hoping to play the U.S. Amateur at his beloved course. He knows it’s a long shot. Blasi only plays a couple of times a month these days and hasn’t competed in a tournament in more than a decade.
“But you can’t make it if you don’t try,” he said.
One thing about golf: anything’s possible. In May, the Jones firm opened another highly touted course, the Patriot, outside Tulsa, Okla.
One evening around the opening, Blasi was playing a few holes with his two bosses, Jones and Charlton, and Jay did something he had never done before on a golf course. He made a hole in one.