Monday Madness

After doing it’s best impersonation of the European Tour over the past couple of months, The Nationwide Tour has finally back on native shores this week as it travels to Bayou country for the Chitimacha Louisiana Open in Broussard, La. While that means the U.S contingent of Nationwide players gets their first chance to make their mark on the Top 25 on home soil, for those of us pros based in the U.S with little or no card, the Nationwide Tour returning to the states means one thing – Monday madness.

For those of you unaware, every Monday the PGA and Nationwide Tours run a qualifying tournament for those professionals and low handicap amateurs not already in the event for that week. There are 14 spots available for the Nationwide Tour’s Monday qualifying and 4 on the PGA Tour with the low scores of the day qualifying. Ties are determined by a playoff. The format boils down to, for all intents and purposes, “Go low, or go home.” 

Last week I logged more miles than a marathon runner attempting to qualify for the Chitimacha Louisiana Open and I thought I’d give you a run down of how it all went.

My roommate and I left Atlanta on Saturday morning at 9am and drove 5 hours south down interstates 85 then 65 to Mobile, Al where one of our traveling companions lives. As those who have been through Atlanta know, getting out of Atlanta on a weekday is virtually impossible. Rush hour in the morning stretches from 6am to 10am and from 4pm to 8pm in the afternoon. Needless to say we were fortunate to be traveling on the weekend and we made good time, arriving just in time to attend a friend and former tour player’s afternoon wedding on the beach.

While the festivities kicked on a little to late for the dedicated professionals amongst us, the three of us playing in the qualifier managed to drag ourselves out of bed Sunday morning and drive the final 5 hours to Louisiana, arriving in the mid afternoon. The final 30 minutes of the drive stretched on along rural back roads, winding through farmland and dirt-poor towns with front yards piled high with disheveled children’s playground swings and neglected, rusted Chevrolets and Dodge pick-ups. My roommate’s GPS couldn’t find the road we were on, planting us firmly in the middle of a field that didn’t exist. I guess satellites don’t hit that part of the country much. These are the places we have to qualify sometimes.

But we followed our noses and finally arrived at Squirrel’s Run Golf Course where we would all be qualifying the following day. We played a late practice round and practiced a little before heading to our hotel where we would attempt to cram the three of us into two king size beds. As you might imagine we take our drawing of straws very seriously. I would be teeing off at 8am the following day and both my mates would be off in the afternoon field at around 1.

My 6am wake up call came very early and I was on the range by 7 even though the sun was barely up. Despite making 4 birdies in 5 holes around the turn I couldn’t get anything going all day. Unfortunately, I also played a wrong ball during that stretch, halting any momentum I was building. It’s something I haven’t ever done, and I bogeyed the last two holes when it really didn’t matter to shoot 75. That certainly wasn’t going to be good enough to get through with a 64 already on the board, coming from the first couple of groups. On top of that I had to wait another 5 or 6 hours to find out if my travel companions had done any better.

I decided I may as well do some work on my game and following lunch I spent the next 4 hours practicing. I watched as many, many players walked off the 9th green, straight past the 10th tee to the parking lot, slammed the trunks of their cars and high-tailed it out of Louisiana. The boys finally got done around 6pm, neither of them had made an impression on the scoreboard, so we packed up the cars and got back on the road. After 5 hours cruising along I-10 we made it back to Mobile and got into bed (or couch in my case) around midnight. I felt absolutely exhausted after such a long couple of days driving and playing.

We rose early again and headed back to Atlanta, another 5 hours away, and got home around 2 in the afternoon. When it was all said and done we had traveled a grand total of 1180 miles in three and a half days and thrown a couple of rounds of golf in between. It may seem like it was all for nothing, but the greats like Nicklaus and Woods try and take positives out of every experience, and that’s just what I did, telling myself I had handled the wrong ball catastrophe with poise and strength – birding the next three holes I played. It was something I could take with me to my next round at least.

Monday qualifiers can be a funny thing. You can shoot 66 and still not make the tournament if the course is playing easy, or you can gut out a 71 and get through if it’s playing tough. I missed out in a playoff for the Knoxville Nationwide Tour event a couple of years ago, shooting 68 to get into a 13 man playoff for 4 spots. 13 for 4! Four players birdied the first hole, 8 made par (including myself) and one made a bogey. The four birdies went through to the tournament, the rest of us got back in our cars and headed home.

The best example of the psyche of the Monday qualifier I can think of came last Monday. My playing partner that day in Louisiana, a veteran pro who played several years on the PGA Tour and who shall remain nameless, was -2 for the day through 11 holes and playing solid, if unspectacular, golf. By the 17 tee he was making a call on his cell phone to change his flight home for the week. That’s kind of how Monday Qualifying goes.

But that’s also the beautiful thing about Monday qualifying; it’s a crap shoot and any week can be your week. I remember an interview with Camilo Villegas on TV a couple of years ago where they asked him if it was tough having to Monday qualifying each week because he didn’t have a Nationwide Card.

“If I have to Monday every week to get to where I want to be (the PGA Tour), then that’s what I’ll do. I don‘t have a choice” he replied.

I couldn‘t have said it better myself. That’s why we drive 1200 miles over a couple of days to Monday Qualify; because we want to be better, because we want to move forward. Because, to get to where we want to be, we have to.



37 Responses to “Monday Madness”

  1. Rodney Baker says:

    I was impressed by the author’s choice to practice four more hours at the range after failing to get past the Monday qualifier. The man has a winning attitude. I hope one day his game will catch up with his attitude.

  2. Jim Smith says:

    One of my coaches told me of the experiance of the two years he spent on the pro tour, it was as equally tough off the course as at was on. Sterss, loneliness were all too great for him. I guess we dont realise what resolve and tanacity all the pga players have, especially those who were in the top twenty last year, end up in the thirty something this, yet still go on year on year. My hero is Freddie Couples, had all it took to be number one, made all the sacifices, but that twinkle of fate deprived him of being up there with Arnie, Jack, Ben, Tiger etc.

  3. Tom O'Brien says:

    HI, I enjoyed the read and found it amusing. It certainly takes the glamour out of pro golf for those not at the top, but brings realism to the notion that pro golfers have it easy. Like all things in life, those we work hardest for are the sweetest when achieved.

  4. Tony Mc Cann says:

    excellent article, success in golf is mirrored in life essentially.
    Why do so many marriages fail, well, the ones who work harder at it usually get better results. Be the best you can be and you’ll not be unhappy.

  5. Bob says:

    It brought the stress home to me and made me realize you have to be young , and in shape, to endure.

  6. Bruce says:

    Stress is when someone is told they have a terminal ailment.and days or months to live – remember that .nd it makesgolf etc. stress free.

    Enjoy while you can.

  7. Mark-John says:


    Thanks for the great read, and Life Lesson. We must love what we do, and anything worth having, is worth WORKING for.

    This sounds quite a bit like my days as a Professional Drummer! And, more recently, as a Golf Pro. And, as Neil Peart of “Rush” has said, an excellent description of life “beyond the Gilded Cage!”

  8. mikethaisun says:


    Thanks for a good insight into what must be thousands of golfers world wide have go through each week trying to get on a tour. It shows how good or dedicated are those who have made it.

  9. Gb says:

    Nice to hear the real story from the person experiening the good or the bad. My hats off to chasing your dream

  10. prilli stevens says:

    Take my hat off to them … thank goodness I only play for enjoyment… but I shall look at those who DO qualify with renewed RESPECT.

  11. Big Al says:

    Whether it’s the Challenge Tour, College circuit or right up to the big boys, the difference between success and failure is 90 percent down to the last 25 feet. There are so many guys who hit it big, have radio controlled irons and deadly up-and-down skills, but the ones who make it are those who can consistently hole the 25 foot and 20 foot birdie opportunities. Not once in a round, but six times in a round.
    Putting, putting, putting.
    Go practice!

  12. Jimmy Hood says:

    Great story I have played in a couple of Nasha pro Am’s in South Africa and have heard similar stories from the pro’s sleeping in their cars in the car park, and that if they were late for there pro -am tee off they would be disqualified from the tournament.

    Its tough to make it big, Richard Stern played in one of our games and before that there were names like Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Trevor who all played in The Nasha pro am

  13. john havens says:

    Great story– Most people don’t know anything about things like that, so I printed it off so I can show it around. I tell them about chasing mini-tours and sometimes they look rather funny at you. they have no idea that there is a million mini-tours out there that you pick your own level(money wise) but the playing brings up the blood in your veins. Play it as it lies!!!! no that putt is not good till it hits the bottom of the cup!!!! did you mark your BALL!!!!! great story keep those comming. John E. Havens

  14. George Kagawa says:

    Very insightful look from inside the ropes. What looks glamorous on TV doesn’t show the dues these guys have to pay to make it to the Big Show.

  15. George says:

    This was very informative insight into the life of young golfers trying to make the tour. Thanks.

  16. Jerry says:

    Golf is a game and should first be FUN.. getting to play on Monday is just an added day of fun on the golf course, or maybe one should consider not being out there at all. We surely need more “fun people” on all the tours.
    captain cook

  17. Viv says:

    I played in a Western Region pro-am with Sean Bebb before he qualified for the tour and was really impressed with his game; (he came 2nd. and won £350-00). I asked him why, with his game, he had not been able to qualify yet for the tour and his reply has stuck with me ever since. He said there are thousands of golfers who hit is as well as I do, and many hundreds who hit it a whole lot better. What a way to make a living!

  18. George says:

    These guys are really dedicated as well as good

  19. Elvin says:

    Hi Andy, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the Monday Madness piece by Nick. It was really insightful and an eye-opener about the slog of becoming a Pro golfer to so many of us who only see the ‘sexy’ side of Pro golf when watching the US or Euaropean Tour events on TV or, if you fortunate enough, going to watch an event live.

    Thanks Nick, for a really great piece!!!


    Durban, South Africa

  20. warner skomars says:

    Great – just great reading. Sounds a bit like the stories from the early days of the PGA Tour. What a movie these quests would make ala Tin Cup.

  21. albert fu says:

    I would need a +2 handicap to even attempt to qualify. If not, the odds of qualifying would be enormous. Those who attempt to qualify without having that kind of handicap if playing a long shot, and maybe wasting their time.

  22. JR says:

    There are many schools of thought that consider golf to be a pass-time rather than a sport which is why it’s not in the Olympics – at the 1st Olympiad – in AD whatever – they were throwing, running and jumping – understandble I suppose since it took another 2 millenia for a bored Scottish shepherd to hit a dead sheeps balls with his crook across a sand dune and to his delight found one of them went down a well – a hole in 1 I suppose – hence GOLF. The dedication, committment and enjoyment of this “skilled sport” is epitomised by the millions world wide who play – this excellent article about “Mondays” emphasises the “Love of Golf”, – Grafting all hours with an off chance of success

  23. Ron Mullard says:

    Dedicated certainly, but it’s got to be better than working shifts in a factory or oil refinery as I did or cooped up in an office no fresh air or seeing the sun shine.(Ok I hear you say it doesn’t always shine and it does rain sometimes). Still I think it’s far nicer to be doing something enjoyable and healthier,even if the results are not always what you want.I would have liked to be good enough to be in their poition, but with my game I would need to come from a very wealthy family as coming home in last position wouldn’t afford a payday. Anyway my hats off to you guys that put yourselves through it and I hope that you see some rewards for stubborn and relentless efforts, good luck to you all.

  24. Wayne Mathews says:

    😀 Monday qualifiers sound a lot like fishing, you throw everything you have at it and take what it gives you.:roll:

  25. Dave Nowak says:

    When I read the harsh reality of the guys out there that have to prove them selves every week, I can’t help but think guys like Tiger got off easy with 100 miilion dollar contracts before they even teed it up as a pro. Great reality article!

  26. Richard Conway says:

    😮 When you watch the Pro’s on TV you forget that most of then got there originally through the Monday Madness. The Camilo Villegas comment really brought it home to me. To get there you need to do what it takes.

    Richard Conway

  27. Paul Sanderson says:

    It was interesting to read of the slog and grind that aspiring golfers put themselves through.
    If you take time to read Woosies autobiography he comments on his time travelling around in a camper van. Keep at it – you never know!
    Good luck.

  28. John says:

    When they say “These guys are good”, believe it!

  29. Tina Johnson says:

    Wow-it obviously takes a lot of dedication & hard work to get to the pro level. Interesting tho to have an insight into what the players have to go thru. Makes you appreciate what they have done to get to where they are.

  30. syd yeomans says:

    I dont think that the normal hacker like myself realises how tough it is to get to the top hard work & a bit of luck

  31. Owen Barnes says:

    Sad but facinating story. It’s tough out there. But if you make then the rewards are phenomenal. Only a very few gifted start at the top, the others have to graft.

  32. Eric Thommen says:

    We only hear and read read about the icing on the cake, but the beginning of any ascent begins at the bottom. A well written article!

  33. paul taylor says:

    Tough life – even for the really committed guys.

  34. Kent Taylor says:

    I found this extremely interesting. I knew someone who went through this grind for a couple of years and finally gave up and went to work for Ping as a demo guy. He said the average person has no idea how tough it really is to qualify for the Nationwide tour let alone the PGA tour. He said there are thousands upon thousands of excellent players who are just a whisker away from playing as well as or better than those qualified on any given day, but it is only the ones who can tame that 4″ between their ears that have any real chance at all and that’s the most difficult thing.

  35. John Lynagh says:


  36. bill says:

    it’s really interesting to read about the real tour…keep ’em coming!

  37. this shows the not so glamorous side of golf and makes one realise the amount of dedication and hard work it takes to reach the top.keep hanging in there.

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