AUGUSTA, Ga. — Scottie Scheffler became the first New Jersey native to win the Masters on Sunday, his first major golf tournament championship and number one ranking.

It's a journey to greatness that started in the dark in Paramus when he was standing on the green behind Bergen Community College with his dad Scott dutifully holding a flashlight while his only son — just 5 or 6 at the time — hit shots in the dark.

And if one of Scottie Scheffler's wayward strokes happened to smack into one of his sisters, so be it.

“He used to yell,” Scott Scheffler said. "He would yell at us when he hit it. He would hit the girls.”

It's what brothers do.

Nearly two decades later, Scottie Scheffler's aim is considerably better. Yes, that was the kid who used to peg his siblings with impunity tugging the green jacket over his broad shoulders after winning the Masters on Sunday afternoon.

And yes, that was most of the Scheffler clan — sisters Callie and Molly (other sister Sara is in Portugal) along with Scott and wife Diane — huddled together just outside Butler Cabin to celebrate a jet-fueled rise to the top that really wasn't that jet-fueled at all.

Those were the days back in north New Jersey when the Scheffler kids were introduced to the game. They moved to Dallas from Ridgefield Park when Diane switched law firms as a chief operating officer. They quickly decided to join Royal Oaks Country Club mostly because it meant Scott Scheffler could keep all four kids in one place.

While Scott Scheffler understands his son's origin story takes a familiar narrative and turns it on his head — it was Scott who served as the stay-at-home dad while Diane worked — he doesn't see it as revolutionary or strange or uncommon.

“It’s just what you do as a father for your children,” Scott Scheffler said, his eyes wet with tears while wearing a white Masters polo shirt on the grounds of a club where his son is now a champion. "You do for your kids you know. I’ve done for all of them. They’ve given us great joy. He’s the one that did all the hard work, not me. I just raised him and tried the best I could to be a good dad.”

Maybe, but someone had to get Team Scheffler to all those sporting events. Youth golf tournaments. High school basketball practices. The list is seemingly endless. The fact it was dad doing most of the driving hardly mattered.

“Wasn’t unusual for me,” Scottie Scheffler said. “I didn’t know any different. Fortunately for me, I grew up with three sisters and my dad was there, and he did a great job raising us."

Scottie Scheffler kisses his wife after winning the 86th Masters golf tournament
Scottie Scheffler kisses his wife after winning the 86th Masters golf tournament (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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Dad made sure kids were well rounded

While stressing “I'm no guru,” Scott Scheffler pointed out how vital it was to make sure Scottie didn't focus on golf all the time. He tried as a sophomore at Highland Park High School only to realize he missed playing basketball too much. So it was back to the basketball team the following year.

Yet Scottie was hardly the only athlete in the family. Callie Scheffler played at Texas A&M and served as Scottie's caddie when he qualified for the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont as an amateur, and Molly and Sara are players, too.

While Scott Scheffler laughingly admitted, “Schefflers have their issues, but they're good people,” he grew more serious when asked what the world needs to know about the unassuming 25-year-old board game aficionado who is now the hottest golfer on the planet.

“He’s just a nice young kid,” Scott Scheffler said. “Born in New Jersey and raised in Texas. He’s got a little bit of both, which is wonderful. Just our son and Meredith’s husband and now I guess he’s the world’s.”

The family bonds extend beyond Team Scheffler.

Scottie Scheffler celebrates as walks next to Cameron Smith, of Australia, after winning the 86th Masters golf tournament
Scottie Scheffler celebrates as walks next to Cameron Smith, of Australia, after winning the 86th Masters golf tournament (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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Working with a Hall of Fame Pro

Rick Smith, the PGA Hall of Fame pro, has worked with Scottie for years, and Rick's son Blake is Scheffler's agent. Blake and Scottie met soon after the Schefflers joined Royal Oaks and the two would play together when they could.

That relationship between the Schefflers and the Smiths has only deepened through the years. Maybe that's why Rick leaned over on Scottie's bag as he was inside signing his scorecard after the biggest tournament — so far — of his still burgeoning career.

Rick was over at Scheffler's house on Saturday night, trying to get him to relax as he sat on a three-shot lead heading into Sunday. They worked on Scheffler's alignment. On his ball position. And on his mood, watching Instagram videos in an effort to keep things light.

While Scheffler admitted his stomach had been hurting over the weekend and he cried Sunday morning because of the pressure, he hardly looked rattled while posting a 1-under 71 that gave him a three-shot victory. There was just one major hiccup, a four-putt on the 18th with his win assured, though Smith couldn't help but laugh when asked at what point he finally relaxed.

“When he made his fourth putt (at 18),” Smith said. “We’ll go figure out what went on."

There's time to exhale, but not much. In early February, Scheffler was still searching for his first PGA Tour win. In early April, he's on the kind of run that he couldn't have imagined while drilling putts into the North Jersey nights, hardly worried about where the putt went, who it hit, or whether mom or dad was one driving them home.

“He’s public now, which is a little bit scary,” Scott Scheffler said.

Just don't expect Scottie to forget where he came from. Scott and Diane Scheffler's only son is well aware he hardly made the journey from Bergen Community College to Augusta National alone.

“They didn’t parent perfectly, obviously, but for me, they did the best they could all the time, and I love them for that,” Scheffler said. “You know, I can’t speak highly enough of the hard work that they have put in. I can’t put it into words, I really can’t.”

(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

How the world saw New Jersey — 1940s to 1980s

This is how New Jersey saw the world from 1940-to 1980. All these photos are from AP and Getty publications, meaning they were used in a magazine or newspaper. There has been plenty of inventions and history made in New Jersey. Check the photos below.

New Jersey's new legislative districts for the 2020s

Boundaries for the 40 legislative districts for the Senate and Assembly elections of 2023 through 2029, and perhaps 2031, were approved in a bipartisan vote of the Apportionment Commission on Feb. 18, 2022. The map continues to favor Democrats, though Republicans say it gives them a chance to win the majority.