7th March,2015

Chasing the Dream

~~Without the slightest fanfare, I stepped to the 10th tee of Shadowridge Golf Course in Vista near San Diego, on my way to making history. Some personal history, that is. I was playing in the Golden State Tour Championship, an important event for those who play in it, an invisible one for those who don't.
There were no massive grandstands at the golf course. There were no galleries surrounding the greens or standing five deep at the tees. The few spectators—loved ones and friends. Johnny Miller wasn't in a tower behind the 18th green and there was no press to chronicle the event. This was a minitour tournament, far from the Fredy Couples and Greg Norman PGA Tour where thousands watch and millions in prizes are at stake. Hardly a soul was there to witness my personal history.
On the short par-4 10th, I ripped a drive that landed in the faiway bunker  130 yards from  the green and my second shot was perfectly played on to the putting surface where it barely missed the eagle . I made my three-foot birdie putt and stood at 2-under par for 10 holes. I would make two more birdies, one at the par-5 14th and the short par-4 16th finish with two routine pars and shoot that magic number of 68, a round that carried me to the Golden State Tour title. As I tapped in my putt on the 18th, there was applause from the handful of pros, tournament officials and the odd spectator. There aren't any roars in minitour golf, not even for a 68.
In the minor leagues of the game, David Feherty doesn't prowl the fairways wielding a cutting-edge wit, hospitality suites filled with the pampered privileged don't overlook the greens, and golf company represantatives don’t haunt the driving range to make sure their prized players have everything they need. The minitours of golf aren't for the masses.
Instead, minitours are where dreams of playing the PGA Tour are kept alive, where games are honed and lessons learned. For the tough, talented few, they are stepladders to the PGA Tour. For some, they are cushions, safety nets that catch them when bad play knocks them from PGA heaven. But for most, they are a proving ground of a negative sort, that is, that the vast majority of players don't have what it takes to compete with the Fredy Couples,Greg Norman,Vijay Singhs or even the Brett Quigleys and Joe Durants.
The Golden State Tour is the most established of these tours, based in San Diego and Los Angeles, California. The Grey Goose Tour is a relative newcomer based in Scottsdale, with a division in West Palm Beach . There are many smaller tours across the United States, such as the Tight Lies Tour, the A.G. Spanos Tour, the Tarheel Tour, the Dakotas Tour and an ambitious newcomer, the U.S. Pro Golf Tour. The latter has support from Donald Trump and intends to operate 22 tournaments.
These tours share something in common: they are filled with dreamers. And there's reason for more than a little hope in those dreams. Occasionally, great players do emerge from the satellite competitions. In my days I competed and played on the Golden State Tour with players like Tom Lehman, Jim Furyk, John Daly, David Toms, Ben Curtis, Lee Janzen and Shaun Micheel, all major tournament winners.
What Tom Lehman & Co. have achieved drives hundreds of good, young players to play on these minitours with the hopes that one day they will be playing for  millions. These minitours are not affiliated with the PGA Tour. The PGA has its own minor league tour, the Nationwide, that provides automatic promotion to the big tour for its most accomplished players. So no matter what a player does on the minitours, he still has to go through the grueling PGA Tour qualification process,we call it the “graveyard”. The minitours, therefore, provide a tournament-style venue for players that lets them experience the thrill—or misery—of standing over a putt where the money means more than just a check in your pocket.
More than anything, minitour players practice grinding.
Most players I played with on the Golden State Tour believed they had a solid game or they wouldn't be on the minitours, where there are no courtesy cars, hospitality rooms or even many caddies . To watch us play is to be at once in awe of our games and awestruck by the fact that, despite our perseverance, most of us are just not good enough to reach the PGA Tour.
I for one could be doing my teaching and making more money,I was US  PGA golf teacher  in Los Angeles ,but I enjoyed  the game of golf, I felt I can get better,rather than me  just giving golf lessons to members at the golf club,everyday.I wanted to play full-time on the US PGA tour.
A bad back, which had plagued me since college golf, eventually took its toll on me, and I stoped. I didn't play any competitive golf, until 2012 Kempinsky Pro –am in Belek ,Turkey.This year in 2015 I will be playing on the Senior Golf Circuit based in UK and try to qualify for the British Open.I have new swing thoughts,my back is ok now and I have a new putting stroke.I will get the results.The road back has begun.All tournaments are in Europe which helps me keep costs down,the tournament organizers will set up the golf courses as tough as they can.They usually give us some pretty interesting pins to shoot and definetly will get the green speed up as fast as they can.
Having played at the highest levels, I know how I can hold on to that dream and look for one more, two more, three more chances to succeed. It was such a fine line between us out on the Golden State Tour, the guys on the Nationwide and the guys on the PGA Tour. We had the Fred Couples,Greg Norman,Nick Price and Nick Faldo  and a couple of dozen others with a big talent difference, but the rest of the guys up there were not that much different from us. It's a very fine line and it's almost all mental. I don't need to make changes. I just have to trust what I have and believe I can do great things. Just getting it done when it really matters.
I have never thought about anything else. I have always loved the game. It's the only thing I know.And besides, it beats working for a living.The good thing is that you're not working at a real job. Let's be honest about it. It's easy street.In college I didn’t win,but I finished in the top 10 of everything.I have the heart and I know I can do this.
 

Comments