Young Golfers – When to Turn Pro
Young prodigies aren’t all the same. When I look for new names and faces in the Q schools of the various tours, I inevitably find that there are a couple of types. Most throw themselves into the fire of general competition to “see how they do.” This applies to the vast majority. There is another type that seems to suggest, “All right, I’ll do this if you want me to, but you know it’s only a formality.” Whether or not that eventually comes true is another story, but a few of them do give one that feeling.
Then there’s a third type, one that decides that maybe they don’t want to go through Q school at all. The mind-set is, “Why go through all of that when I could get in just by winning stuff?”
Case in point, Charley Hull. We just saw her in the Solheim Cup, in which she was nothing short of superb. Before that event, Charley and her family decided that she should throw her hat in the ring for the second wave of LPGA qualifying. Then, it all changed.
Hull likes playing in the U.S., but being a European, she wants to keep a foot in that tour as well, and why not? It’s a great one. However, after administering a resounding beating to Paula Creamer (after which she asked for the American’s autograph), ordinarily a top-notch Solheim player, the thinking has drifted toward balance, and getting to play everywhere by – yes, “winning stuff.”
With her newfound popularity on both sides of the pond (it’s a neat trick – she embarrassed the U.S., and the U.S. loves her), sponsor invites should be abundant. Then there are the tournaments for which she can qualify, such as the U.S. Open. That gives her plenty of time on both tours – plus, if she wins an LPGA event, or finishes in the outsider equivalent of the top forty money winners, well there you go.
Over on the PGA side, we have one serious contender in 20 year old Jordan Spieth, who “decided” (yawn) to turn pro in his sophomore year. He’d won the Junior Amateur multiple times, led the Longhorns to an NCAA championship, held the number one amateur ranking for a while and came in low amateur in the U.S. Open, so why not? Time to do something new – where should he start?
After missing his first cut, he put in top ten finishes for Puerto Rico, Tampa Bay and RBC Heritage – nice start. Then, it got weird. He won the John Deere Classic, and became the first teenager in over eighty years to win a PGA event. He won again, shot a 62 in the Deutsche Bank and was named to the Presidents Cup.
So, the question remains for a very select few on the men’s and women’s sides – “Why should I slog through boot camp when I can come in as a general?” Charley is seventeen, and the family is glad to not see her stuck far from home for an extended period of time – balance, which means that she can go anywhere, and win anywhere she goes. Spieth, twenty, seems to have forgotten where he put his ability to be intimidated, and proceeds on the tour as if he’s been there for years.
There are prodigies and then there are prodigies. For these two, the plan looks right, and it should put them in not only a good professional position, but keep their heads in the right place as well.