Trial and Tribulations of an aspiring Golfer: In the Beginning Part 1

By on February 16, 2016

It was a warm and beautiful May afternoon, not a cloud in the sky. My father, brother and I were hitting golf balls in the middle of nowhere. The 3 Amigos were on a Journey across America!

Rip (photo by Randy Ornelas)

Rip (photo by Randy Ornelas)

College had just finished up for me and I was taking my talents from Ohio to Arizona to pursue the Golf career. I really do not know who to blame, but 3 grown ass men all above 6 feet tall in a 2 door mini cab pickup truck for 32hrs was not the most genius of ideas. I’m not even going to get into the ego’s that filled that tiny space. It would be easy! We would take turns driving in shifts and the time would go by so fast. My brother and I decided that we were going to take a case of Energy drinks to help keep us amped and awake. I’m not sure how energy drinks were supposed work but I do know we drank all of them in the first 6 hours of the trip and I’m positive My Dad drove 28 of the 32 hours while we slept. The only options available were stay awake and join in on stupid argument where no one could win. 100% of them resulted with one person all fired up over a disagreed opinion OR sleep.

We definitely needed a break from each other and some fresh air. Why wouldn’t three Golf Foo’s pack the pickup truck to the max making sure our golf clubs are readily available if in need. With cabin fever setting in after 23 hours we decided to pull off the highway in Santa Fe New Mexico because we saw a diving range sign. We pulled up to what could have been the replica range from the movie Tin Cup. We were the only car in the parking lot so we weren’t sure they were even open. We walked into the shack that apparently time forgot and the golf shop was still sporting equipment and apparel for sale from circa 1990. The golf balls and range baskets may have been from even older than that. Yes, you are correct; the driving range was not clearly marked or had any type of designated teeing ground. Just a few old trash cans with targets painted on them. In the distance my brother noticed a large fenced in area with towers scattered all around. This would be later found out to be the Santa Fe State Penitentiary. It certainly did not take long to find out that you were not allowed to hit Drivers…… P.S. Dear Sir, if by chance you are reading this and a golf ball may or may not have broken into prison I’m sorry. Congrats on your rehabilitation and parole. Please don’t hurt me.

We eventually made it safe to Arizona without any more driving range issues. The only issue next for us was dealing with was the 115 degree temperature we were not accustomed to. If you want to relate, go home and turn on your over to bake at 350’ and stick your head in. Do not attempt the tricks or any stunts and tricks displayed in this story. Most of these stunt performers are skilled professionals or simply very lucky people. TRYING THESE TRICKS COULD LEAD TO SERIOUS INJURY, INCLUDING PARALYSIS, OR EVEN DEATH.. By the way I loved it!!!

I was able to finally settle in at a golf course working for the outside service. My job description was to meet and greet guests as they arrived for golf and also as they finished from golf. I did this job not only to pay bills but to have a facility to practice at while I tried to get better. I was new to this whole experience of trying to become a playing Pro and chasing a dream. I was not determined or as passionate as I would have liked to have been. It is very easy to sit back and say that you will get up early before your shifts and stay late after your shifts to practice and grind before the sun disappears. The grind was there in the beginning but it was definitely fading away. Working 8 to 10 hours with golfers has the ability to drain you. After a long day of work you want to leave the office and not still be at the office doing your personal work.

After a while you start to fall into a little golf tornado I like to call “Institutionalized.” As most golf course Pro’s know it gets to a point where all you do is work, drink, golf, drink and golf. Just a short few months later Happy Hours became more of a priority and skins games with friends took precedence over practice. Taking a few dollars from hacks was way easier than practicing. I remember in one of my first events I tricked my brother to fly out and caddie for me. I didn’t play completely horrible but I didn’t expect the field to tear apart the course like they did. The top of the Leader Board after day 1 of qualifying were tied at the course record mark of -10 and the cut line was -3! The course rating was 74.2 and tipped out at over 7,000yds and these guys were ripping it up. My Caddie/Brother did a heck of a job keeping me all smiles during the day, even when we identified my ball in a thorn bush and I reminded him “Bones would grab the ball for Phil.” He still hasn’t let me live that one down to this day. I guess I was making up for College when he would constantly boss me around. Lol I still think I should have listened to him more. Sorry Coach D.

I used my experiences playing these events to ask questions from my fellow competitors about how they could afford to put ALL the work in and still pay for costs of living. The overwhelming response I got was “Sponsors.” Golf tournaments were not cheap in Arizona to participate in. How was I going to afford to pay bills and entry fees on this type of income? In order to make ends meet I relied on doing my best to gamble on the golf course but the money we were playing with barely covered the nights bar tab. So I took a different route. I starting getting chummy with a couple local bar “Norms” at the watering hole. They expressed some interest in a Sponsorship and wanted to see what I was all about. I decided that I would get them a game of golf with me at my facility to showcase some skills. I mean at the least they knew I was saving them our normal rate at the time of $190 per player during Season so the tip should be good. I played pretty well THAT day and very well the 4 rounds of golf after. They would not have a 5th round with me. When they asked to get out one more time I told them we need to discuss sponsorship ideas for some upcoming entry fees. They disappeared faster than a cream filled cake at fat camp.

Now what was I going to Do!!?????

To be Continued Golf Foo…………………..




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