My last days as a professional golfer's wife

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Big changes are a-comin' to our house. A week from today, Alex will be working in medical sales and will be leaving behind his 7-year-long career as a professional golfer.

What, you didn't know my hubs was a baller?

It's true. He has been a pro since graduating from college in 2005. Although almost every little boy probably dreams of playing in the NFL or in the major leagues, not a ton (I would guess) dream about playing golf for a living. It's pretty hilarious that Alex was part of the majority and dreamed about playing professional baseball, not golf. In fact, playing golf professionally wasn't even something he really considered until late in college, when his showings on the University of South Carolina's golf team and then his finishes in amateur tournaments suggested that maybe he should do more with his skills than hit the links on Sundays with the boys while drinking beer.

So for the last 7 years, that's what he's been doing. But trust me, it's not as glamorous as it sounds. Although he has played in several PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour (the former Tour)  events, he has spent the most time working his butt off on mini-tours. Playing on mini-tours is essentially like playing in the minor leagues of baseball. Except that you can't just get called up when someone gets hurt or something. Other than a few sponsor exemptions and "Monday Qualifiers" to get in the bigger tour events, the way to work yourself permanently to your Tour Card is to go to Q-School, a grueling multi-stage process in which you compete for a handful of spots on Tour against every other PGA-hopeful in the world. No pressure.

Alex has had some amazing successes and accomplishments in his professional golf career. Although I am NOT a golfer (learning to play is on my list for this year!), I swear the moment I started to fall in love with him was when I saw him hit a golf ball off a tee for the first time. He seemed to be in his element: so confident, such impressive skill, and he looked hot in a Titlelist hat with his preppy polo and sweater get-up. Swoon.

One of his most memorable successes - probably THE most memorable - was when he was killing it in the inaugural McGladrey Classic, a PGA Tour event at Sea Island, Georgia in 2010. The day of the third round, he was in the top 10 for most of the day. I was freaking out - freaking out, I tell ya. I was so nervous that I could barely look at him because I just knew I would make him nervous (although he probably would have been just fine, steady as he is!). Even though he didn't finish in the top 10, it was easily the most fun I've ever had watching him play (if you count a mild heart attack as fun, ha!), and come on, how many guys can say they were competing for a win on the PGA Tour? It was awesome. (Sidenote: he proposed 5 days later. BEST. WEEK. EVER.)

Signing autographs for his adoring fans at the McGladrey Classic :)

After Alex and I got married, I think his priorities changed a little bit, and he started enjoying golf and all that comes with it - the miles and miles of traveling, nights away from home, playing in the pouring rain or freezing cold - a little bit less. It was tougher for him to be on the road for days or even weeks at a time. He must have just missed me and my home cooked meals. ;) We started talking about "if" he changed careers, what he would do with this life. These conversations became more and frequent, and throughout the course of this year, if became less of an "if" and more of a "when." Needless to say, there were some tears, there were some arguments, there were some dreams (we could actually take a vacay in the summer without worrying about tour schedules!), there were many heart-to-hearts, and there were a lot of prayers.

This decision has not come easy for me or for Alex. We have been praying about this for almost a year now. I didn't want him to give it up too soon and have regrets down the road or, worse, subconsciously resent me or our future family in any way. But I also didn't want him to do it for too long to the point where he was miserable, or didn't want to touch a golf club ever again, or miss out on a potential job opportunity that could make him really happy.

At the PGA event in Sea Island

I think most people might think he's crazy for giving up playing golf for a living. Even typing that, that job sounds ridiculously awesome, doesn't it? As much as I am looking forward to having him here every weekend and not nervously waiting on his phone call after each round, I will miss a lot of things, too. I'll miss compulsively checking the online scoring website for any updates on his score. I will miss walking 18 holes alongside him as he competes. I will miss fun weekends where we get up with the sun and spend the day on the course during a tourney. I will even miss being able to brag on him (since he is too humble to do it himself) and when people ask what he does, being able to say that my husband "plays golf professionally" (because again, it sounds pretty dang impressive).

But what I look forward to is bragging on him about his undying work ethic, his dedication, his smarts and his successes in a new career. I am so proud of him for making this very difficult decision and following his heart, for leaving the only career he has ever known and starting anew. I have so much respect for him. I know he will do GREAT things in this new position and beyond.

Golf has been a huge part of Alex's identity, and his identity to me. But there is one reason I love him more than anyone on the planet: his heart. And nothing can change his heart, golf or no golf. 

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