1st June,2014

My test, my challenge, my dream….Q-School

~~Q-school is stressful enough. That’s the task facing some players competing at the final stage of the European PGA SeniorTour. In one sense, final stage is easier than first stage where you either "go big or go home".Gramacho Golf Club,Silves Golf and Pestana Vila Sol Golf in Portugal will hold the first stage 36 Holes play-offs for the Final Stage at Pinta Golf Course playing for my 2015 PGA Tour Card.I will be there in the best form possible. First 15 golf players get full PGA Exemption on the senior’s tour in Europe with chances to play in the US Open, British Open, and US PGA Championship which are our biggest tournaments with purses of over 2 million Euros’. We do have our four Majors as well.
One of the reasons I decided to play in the European PGA Senior Tour next year, January 2015 is because I’ll have less pressure.The real test in golf, as in life, is not keeping out of the rough, but getting out once you are in. I want to close one more chapter in my book. I have all the time in 2014 to get really sharp and the worst-case scenario is that I’d just go back to teaching golf at Lighthouse Golf Resort or back home in Australia.
The more I think about it, the more I can get in trouble however I’m just going to try to take it as another professional tournament and make as many birdies as possible( I used to average 4 birdies per round). I know that I can do it again.My caddie will be Mugur Mehedintu(The Romanian Dalai Lama), who I hope will be in good shape. I will get in top shape as well, but I want to make something very clear, it doesn’t mean I will stop going to the Whisky Bar. A good showing from my students and members from Lighthouse Golf Course at the Qualifying school in Portugal is expected in January 2015. Flying the Romanian flag and hopefully they will watch some good golf and great display of golf shots.
Q-School is not as severe as it once was. In the early 80’s when my first trip through US PGA Q-school was a failure I signed up for the mini-tours from Texas to California.Before anyone starts feeling sorry for us golf professionals who leave Q-school Monday without their PGA Tour cards, keep in mind that we have a safety net. We can always teach members at private golf clubs and keep our game in shape. Owners and CEO’s of golf courses always liked to have Tour golf professionals as teachers at their golf club rather than non-playing PGA teachers. My golf course owner and CEO in Los Angeles always introduced me to his members as “My Australian Tour Professional” he used to say ;”Demi it sounds exotic ‘Australian Pro’ because we have over 20,000 Americans PGA Teachers in California”. Now thinking of Mike, he was a great man, he became a friend of mine and he was a very funny man. Mike is not longer with us god bless him, however he did introduced me to the “crème dela crème” in Los Angeles and the Croquet Club in Beverly Hills but that is another story.
Back to golf, the top 30 players who don't get their cards can play a full schedule on the tour's developmental circuit, and they no longer play for chump change.The bottom feeders at Q-school get conditional status on the European PGA Senior Tour, and they can expect a relatively full schedule as long as they play well. In my younger days It wasn't too bad, I had a lot of success out there. It wasn't like I had no money and was playing on my last dollar. Today clearly, Q-school is no longer the end of the road. The field in the European PGA Senior Tour, includes 15 past champions on the European PGA Tour who can still get into at least a dozen PGA events. Some players, like Montgomerie, Langer,Frost and now Jimenez, they already have full status on the European PGA Senior Tour and can expect to play 20 times, so they don't have to show up at Tour events with an ``alternate'' tag next to their names. The pressure is still stifling for those trying to get their PGA Tour cards, although it's not quite the same as it was before on the US PGA Tour in the 1980’s. There was a hell of a lot more pressure . At least now with the European PGA Senior Tour, if you get to the finals (of Q-school) you have a viable place to play with good, solid purses where you can make some money. When I was trying to play, if you didn't get your card, you were out in no man's land. It was easier to make a career change. The difference between the top 30 who get their cards, and the next 50 who are relegated to the second tier golf  tournaments, is playing for an extra digit in the paycheck. The difference can be private jets or commercial flights, network television coverage or The Golf Channel. Those exiled to the second tier golf tournaments after the q-school  week won't get courtesy cars at every tournament. The total purse is equal to second-place money at some PGA Tour events. I've got mixed feelings about as much money as there is on this tour. I've seen guys who were good enough to hang on, but never good enough to make it. I was looking for a level of prize money where one could make enough to sponsor himself, but harsh enough that the marginal guys were looking for a new job.The most pressure-packed event in golf is no longer the final stage of Q-school. It's the first stage 36 holes, where those left behind are stuck with the mini-tours -- just like the old days -- when they have to be honest about their talent and decide how much they're willing to sacrifice.If I fail, I will be going back to teaching, club making and fitting. I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Plus I would love to see the Romanian Flag flying high at the qualifying school in Portugal and even better at The Senior British Open which is our Major Tournament just one week later from The British Open where the “flat Bellies will play. Like the young PGA players always say and I used to say it as well in my younger days; “you guys on the Senior PGA Tour if you remember the score you get paid”.
Doesn’t matter if I chunk a wedge in to water from 110 yards or I will have 3 putts from 10-feet.I will live my dream again. It won't be the end of the world like my friend Wayne Grady used to say, a Major Winner in 1990 when he won the US PGA Championship beating Fred Couples by 3 strokes and runner-up in The British Open in 1989.I played a round of golf with him and Mike Ferguson another good friend of mine before I left Australia and Wayne told me that he was ready now for the PGA Senior Tour. Who knows next game against Wayne or Mike could be a proper golf tournament rather than just a social game where the winner at the end of the day gets a few beers at the clubhouse. In actual fact people, I never did lose my golf swing; I just don’t want to run out of time. Not all dreamers are winners, but all winners are dreamers. Your dream is the key to your future.