PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO | For the past decade or so, Andrés Schönbaum has lived a very intercontinental life. The son of an insurance broker, he was born and raised in Córdoba, Argentina, which is perhaps best known for its wild bird hunting and historical monuments preserved from the days when it was ruled by Spanish colonists. It also is where Argentine golf greats Ángel Cabrera and Eduardo Romero grew up. And it was in and around that city that Schönbaum learned how to play the game – and to play it well enough to compete on the golf team at Jacksonville State University in Alabama as he also earned a degree in business management. Once he graduated in 2013, it was back to Argentina, to be with his girlfriend, Aylen, and to go to work in the insurance business with his father.
“I loved the States, and I wanted to stay,” says the 28-year-old Schönbaum, who is called Andy by his friends in both North and South America. “But returning to Argentina was important to me. As a country, it does not work very well, and you can live much more peacefully in the States. But my family and my girlfriend meant a lot to me.”
Coming home, however, did not mean that he could not return to the States, and Schönbaum finds ways to do so several times a year, largely to compete in elite amateur tournaments like the Coleman Invitational at Seminole, where he finished second in the 2019 to Scott Harvey, and the U.S. Mid-Amateur, where made it to the quarterfinals last September.
The costs can be extreme at times, due to steep tariffs on airline tickets and rental cars that the Argentine government charges those who travel overseas, and Schönbaum does his best to build trips around a handful of events so he is not traveling back and forth so much. He also does what he can to keep his game sharp by finding time to practice during the work week and teeing it with his father and friends on the weekends as he also plays in regional events like the Latin America Amateur, in which he competed last week for the fifth time.
In many ways, it enables him to have the best of both worlds.
Schönbaum’s father was a golfer and good enough to have represented Argentina in tournaments around South America. He often played at the Córdoba Golf Club, and one of his regular caddies was Cabrera. The elder Schönbaum also wanted Andrés to learn the game and began taking him to the course when he was just 4 years old.
“I liked it well enough,” says Schönbaum. “But soccer was my real passion, and by the time I was 6, I had lost all interest in golf. My father was not happy about that. But then some friends moved to a house right next to another golf course, and I started playing again. I had a handicap index by the time I was 9, and was playing in national events soon after that. I really liked the game, and I really liked competing.”
In time, Schönbaum started working with an Argentine named Jose Campra, a one-time national amateur golf champion who in addition to serving as his swing doctor also caddied for Cabrera, among other tour professionals. Campra had played college golf at Jacksonville State, and he recommended that his young student do the same. So, after finishing high school in his homeland, Schönbaum headed to the States for his studies.
“I loved the States, and I wanted to stay. But returning to Argentina was important to me.”
He enjoyed some successes as a player for the Gamecocks and was Ohio Valley Conference champion in 2011. “I thought for a little bit about turning pro,” recalls Schönbaum, who wound up T11 in the Latin American Amateur for his best result in the event. “But to do that, I would have had to stay in the States. And I really did want to go home after college. I also was not sure that I would like the life of a tour professional and living on the road.”
So, he started working with his father, who by that point counted Cabrera as one of his clients. “I like the business,” says Schönbaum, who has attended five Masters through the years with badges that El Pato, as his father’s former caddie is known, provided for him. “And I like being with my girlfriend, who is a dentist.”
He also liked that he still was able to play elite amateur golf and became especially interested in what he could do in that realm in the States after meeting Harvey at the 2015 South American Amateur in Lima, Peru – and learning about all the opportunities available to top players after they had turned 25.
Since that chance encounter, Schönbaum has qualified for the past three U.S. Mid-Amateurs and teed it in tournaments like the Southern Amateur and the Porter Cup as well as the Coleman. At the same time, he also has played in his fair share of regional competitions – and done well in several of them. He won the Brazilian Amateur in 2017, for example, the North Argentina Amateur Open a year later and the South of Argentina Open in 2019. He has also represented his homeland in the World Amateur Team Championship.
Schönbaum had not fared nearly as well in the LAAC, with his previous best finish being a T19 in 2018. But that has done nothing to temper his enthusiasm for the tournament – or for the golf life he is able to lead. On both continents.