What? No College?

College No Longer the Automatic Choice for Golfers

If I had told my parents that I intended to skip college, you would have seen the mushroom cloud and heard the sonic boom thousands of miles away. Of course, an athletic scholarship was not in play for me, but it’s still a sobering proposition to stake your entire life on the possibility of getting a spot for yourself on one of the major professional golf tours. And yet, that is precisely what a few more brave souls each year are doing – skipping the whole fun college thing, the four-year course in becoming civilized, socialized, and career-groomed in one of many possible majors.

The logic goes something like this: You’ll play golf with a great bunch of young men or women for four years. You’ll travel to tournaments, some local, some regional, and if you’re team is very good, the nationals. It will be the happiest, most care-free years of your life, which actually turns out to be true for many, and not so much for many others. During your four years at Bliss Tech, you will have a professional coach helping you to refine your game constantly, perhaps more than one.

collegeHere’s what you’ll also be doing during those four years. For starters, if you enter a college in the states, you will pay some of the highest tuition on the planet. Golf will have to be scheduled around 8 o’clock classes such as Music Theory, Human Anatomy & Physiology, or perhaps Analysis of the American Civil War. You’ll make it to practice if you can get excused from the marathon reading of Milton’s Paradise Lost, and you’ll hope to finish up in time to get ready for tonight’s date, which after all, a person does need to do once in a while. There will, of course, be the sorority and fraternity nonsense, and you’ve got to be a team player. Yes, college is complicated, and so is being a serious college golfer.

Now, let’s talk about your opponent for a minute – your new, modern, and increasingly present opponent, the one who stayed home, skipped the forty thousand tuition, the noise, the 8 o’clocks and campus political rallies to do just one thing instead – become the greatest golfer in the world, and beat the tar out of you if you cross his or her path. I have a friend who is fond of saying that “nobody likes hundred percenters,” but in cases like this, hundred-percenters can be hard to beat. I don’t know what the best choice i, but it depends on the person. There is a type who believes in themselves and their gifts so wholeheartedly that they will put everything into making it into the game.  If the college player fails, there is usually something to fall back on. If the driven, insane, prodigy fails (or has a mental breakdown), the fall can be much farther, through the MacDonalds and Taco Bell  tier down to life as an automated ball-collector on the friendly neighborhood range. The watchword of your friendly neighborhood will be “Whatever happened to so & so? She (he) should have gone to college.”

If you’re going to skip that four-year amusement park ride, you’d better be good, you’d better know it, and the people around you who know what their talking about had better know it as well. Of course, not everyone’s situation is the same. For a foreign student trying to make the tour, college is perfect. It helps with the language, learning the cultural ropes, and refining the game. But all you college kids should remember that junior golf has changed over the years, and now looks a lot like professional golf. The sharpest young talents already have world-class coaches who make way too much money to teach in college, and these kids are already competing with the other world-conquerors-to-be, no matter how contorted and undeveloped their personalities might become in the process.

It’s each prodigy’s call, between “I have a whole day to perfect my wedge” and “I can get a few in before the dance.” It’s a choice between the crazy-eyed obsessive who hasn’t left the course in six years, and the well-adjusted college grad who doesn’t see having a degree to fall back on as surrendering. So, tee it up grads and no-shows. I have no idea what to tell you.


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