By Jordan Holley
Jordan Holley, 28, is a mini-tour player pursuing his dream of earning a PGA Tour card. He graduated from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., where he was an NCAA All-American and a member of the Cleveland Golf Academic All-American First Team. He qualified for the U.S. Amateur in 2008, and since turning professional has played on the NGA Hooters and eGolf tours, as well as other minor league tours.
So, since I last left you last time I’ve gotten my feet wet again and back into competition. I played last week in a NGA Pro Golf Tour (formerly the Hooters Tour) event in Windsor, N.C. at Scotch Hall Preserve. Let me start at the beginning.
I booked a one-way flight from my home base in West Palm Beach, Fla., up to Raleigh, N.C. and met up with my longtime friend Nathan Stamey. I hopped in his car and we hit the road. We stayed with a close friend of mine in Raleigh and made the three-hour drive to the middle of nowhere, Windsor, N.C., the next morning. I have to pause here to tell you just what this place is like. First of all, the only hotel we could find room in was the local Super 8 … not so super. This was the week of the Masters and our small, basically black-and-white TV didn’t get ESPN! There were only three restaurants that were not fast food and the entire town shut down around 8:30 p.m. Anyway, we had a solid two days of practice and I went into my first round brimming with confidence.
I had a 1:50 p.m. tee time the first round but after a three-hour rain delay for the first wave, we only got three holes in during some favorable weather and I played them two-under. The next day we woke up to an early morning high of 45 degrees and the wind blowing more than 25 mph off the large lake surrounding the course. Twelve hours later and 33 holes in, I blew a chance to make a move heading into the weekend after a solid day with a crushing triple bogey on the tough ?17th hole at Scotch Hall. Now I had to wait around and see if I even made the cut! I did not, and after a little self-loathing, I headed back to the room to lick my wounds and reflect on the day.
The next two days I caddied for Nate and got some good practice in. It was a tough course and even tougher conditions. A friend of mine, Mark Silvers, won the four-day event at eight under, a testament to the teeth the course showed. Now it was on to trying to figure out my next step. I was down to a VERY limited bank account after forking over the $1300 entry fee plus another $500 in travel expenses. The guys who offered the sponsorship help (read about it in my last update here) had not yet agreed on the terms.
I finally reached out to the potential sponsors and told them I felt good about my game and needed to play again. They obliged and signed me up for the eGolf event at St James this past week. It’s a course that demands every part of your game to be sharp and the tour officials did a fantastic job setting up a stern test.
It turned out to be too stern for me in the first round, where I struggled mightily to shot a four-over 76. Here is where my week and potentially my year made a turn for the better. I teed off the next day determined to make a move and I did. I shot the second-lowest round of the day on the demanding Founders Club course at St. James, and posted a five-under 67 with a bogey on the par five 17th hole. This got me to the weekend and I wasn’t done yet. Another five-under 67 the next day, this time at the Reserve Club tied me for the low round of the day and put me in the final group — only one shot back heading into Saturday’s final round.
The final round was close to a flawless early, as I was six-under through 11 holes. I stumbled with a few bogeys heading in including one on No. 17. Again, it was a par five. Sensing a trend yet? I did not play the par fives very well, which is a must for professional golfers. I got a great practice in following the round and slept like a baby with nothing but opportunity in front of me.
I woke up the next morning, had a nice stretch, breakfast and I was off to finish what I started. I warmed up well and in front of a fairly decent gallery I striped my first shot with a three wood right down the middle. I felt as comfortable as I ever have in similar positions as I walked down the first fairway. I approached my second shot and had a perfect number to the flag, 145 yards with a slightly helping wind. I stepped up with my pitching wedge anticipating a short birdie putt upcoming. I then proceeded to SHANK my wedge basically out of play. Needless to say, I was speechless and a little unnerved as I approached my next shot. I was stymied behind a tree and had to pitch out sideways. I chipped out, wedged on the green and two putted for double bogey.
In one of the weirdest rounds of golf in my life, I shanked three irons out of play, made four birdies (including one at the last hole in front of the largest gallery I have played for) and grinded my tail off to shoot 77. I hit six greens, had 25 putts and made three double bogeys. Long story short, I blew another chance at a great paycheck and didn’t even realize how fast it happened. I KNOW that I can close better than that and I am sitting in the car on the way home from Orlando piecing together just what happened in the last few days. What am I supposed to learn from all of it? I don’t know yet, but I know I will come out stronger as a result (or at least a little smarter).
I just finished an audition for the Golf Channel’s “Big Break” and as hard as it was to tell them about this past Saturday, I did. While I was sharing my whole life story as well with them, I realized that this journey I am on isn’t near the finish line, but closer to the beginning.
My goal is to reach people that are traveling down the same road as me – trying to make a living doing something they love. I’m currently reading a book by Matthew Syed, “Bounce,” which resonated with me.
?”Purposeful practice is about striving for what is just out of reach and not quite making it; it is about grappling with tasks beyond current limitations and falling short again and again. EXCELLENCE is about stepping outside the comfort zone, training with a spirit of endeavor, and accepting the inevitability of trials and tribulations. PROGRESS is built, in effect, upon the foundations of necessary failure. That is the essential paradox of EXPERT performance.”
You can follow Jordan on Twitter @J_Holley6under or on www.jordanholleygolf.com.