Summer is a popular time for family reunions. They can be good for the soul and even can help cure a great number of ills.

Summer is a popular time for family reunions. They can be good for the soul and even can help cure a great number of ills.

For Andy Schillig, reconnecting with an older brother who lives on the other side of the country clearly has provided those benefits and more.

Schillig, a 2005 graduate of Licking Heights High School, is preparing for his senior year at Ohio Wesleyan armed with a better golf game, which eventually could help land him a spot in the U.S. Amateur, an event for which he twice has come up short during qualifying stages. At the least, he'll be more confident than ever as the Battling Bishops once again chase the NCAA Division III national championship.

"Ball-striking has always been my biggest problem," said Schillig, who caddied in both pro-ams the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational, a Nationwide Tour event which concludes today at Ohio State's Scarlet Course. "My brother (Ben) is my swing coach, but in the past we've only been able to hook up maybe a couple of times of year.

"He's back here taking some classes at Ohio State and has been home all summer so we've got a lot of time in together. It's been great. He's really helped me and I'm sure we're closer for it, too."

Schillig's 25-year-old brother, who also played for the Hornets, is a club professional in California. His help provided immediate results, with Andy finishing 20th at the 102nd Ohio Amateur. Schillig also posted a 12th-place showing last month at another top amateur event in West Lafayette, where the field included top Division I college players from all over the state.

"I attribute how I'm playing right now to him," Andy Schillig said of his only sibling. "He's made me better."

Playing almost to a 1-handicap, he said, Schillig finished 72 holes with an 11-over-par 295 total at the Ohio Amateur, a 147-player event which was held July 15-18 at Findlay Country Club. His even-par 71 in the first round put him in contention, although Ohio State senior Vaughn Snyder eventually finished atop the leaderboard with a 1-under 283.

"The course was tough, very tight with lots of rough and tree-lined fairways. The setup was almost like a mini-U.S. Open," said Schillig, who as a senior at Licking Heights was named ThisWeek's Player of the Year and qualified for the Division II state tournament, also earning first-team all-MSL-Cardinal-Division honors for a fourth time.

He entered this summer on a down note, however. Ohio Wesleyan, which in 2006 had finished third at the NCAA tournament, won another North Coast Athletic Conference tournament title in the spring but slipped at the NCAA tournament, placing 14th from May 13-16 in Braselton, Ga. The team had three returning All-Americans, including Schillig (second team).

"I was very disappointed," he said. "In the first round, well, it was just a fluke we shot, like, 20 shots over our worst round of the year up to then. It was too much to come back from."

Now, Schillig and his classmates are hoping to turn disappointment into motivation. They include Maineville's Jeff Nieman and Dublin's Kyle Martin, both of whom were All-Americans in 2006.

The fall season also is especially important in the NCAC, which uses a cumulative score from four tournaments, including a pair of 36-hole events in September and October, to determine its overall champion and NCAA automatic qualifier. The others are 36- and 54-hole events in the spring.

"This is going to be our year," Schillig said of aiming for a national title, which would be Ohio Wesleyan's first.

Of more immediate importance, however, is Monday's qualifier for the 106th Western Amateur, which runs Wednesday through Aug. 3 at Point O' Woods Golf & Country Club in Benton Harbor, Mich. He leaves today. After that event, Schillig's next goal is to qualify for the U.S. Amateur, which will be Aug. 18-24 at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort & Country Club.

Those tournaments feature both stroke and match-play competition.

"I like match play," said Schillig, who has some experience playing in Columbus District Golf Association events. "It's easier to focus on one hole and not your overall score. If you ask most players, they won't even know what they shot for the round. It's a real nice change of pace."

Looking further down the road, Schillig, who is studying economics management, can't yet envision a life without golf.

"Depending on what happens this year (at school) and everything else the rest of this summer, and if I keep improving like I am now, I don't think playing at some professional level is out of the question.," he said.

Kurtis Adams can be reached at