The Power of Negative Thinking

You read that right. For most of us, we understand the power of positive thinking. My husband only understands the power of negative thinking…the problem is he thinks it works for him. Unfortunately, that is proving not to be the case anymore. You see, he’s been allowed to dwell in that world too long. Everyone who knows him knows what I’m talking about & most of his playing partners are guilty of encouraging him – not in a “yah, you do suck” kind of way, but in a, “you don’t get it Leslie, that works for him” kind of way. He’s fooled everyone into thinking that his self-deprecating, self- belittlement mentality actually compels him to play better…and MAYBE it did before, when he was on top of the pig pile, but now it doesn’t.

So you’re asking yourself…but why did she just write the last blog talking about Tom going on the attack, now she’s making him sound like a mental midget. Please don’t misunderstand me. Tom NEVER gives up. He NEVER quits. He ALWAYS gives 100%. The problem is that part is instinctual for him. He doesn’t know any different…so while he’s trying and trying, he’s really living the definition of insanity; doing the same thing over & over and expecting a different result. Tom’s caddy Mike says Tom has a natural talent for golf unlike any he’s ever seen…he just needs to get out of his own way.

That being said…just changing your outlook doesn’t always translate into a great golf game. Tom’s new friend Sonny Skinner is a perfect example. This man has the best attitude I’ve seen out here. He sweet talks his golf ball (most of the time) and maintains the most even-keeled temperament I’ve ever seen on the golf course (well, along with Randy Lewis that is). But even as positive as he is, that doesn’t guarantee him a good round of golf – his scores are proof of that. And he has the talent, boy does he have the talent. What I’m trying to say is while Tom is taking the right steps to move his mental game in the right direction, it doesn’t mean he’s going to all of a sudden light it up. It just means that golf may turn into something fun again for him which in turn will help him keep this game in perspective. Right now, as I’ve said to so many people, golf is not fun. It just isn’t. He’ll be the first one to tell you too. THAT…needs to change. I saw a Tom hit an all-time low today & it broke my heart…and while that was so hard to watch, it’s what had to happen for him to turn this ship around. I truly believe it was a “come to Jesus” moment for him. But if you’ve ever seen a ship turn, it does it slowly, but it does turn.

I’ll bet you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking if you were watching online today. Especially when going into 18 he was -2. He just had a bad hole for craps sake, right? Well, no. It was more than that. But today you’ll just have to take my word for it. Tom’s ball striking was such that if his putting would’ve been good…he’d have shot zero. Nothing. And anyone who knows Tom, knows his game revolves around his putting. Period.

So what lies in store for Tom Werkmeister? Work. Hard work. Perseverance. Patience. He WILL make it at this level. He WILL succeed. But he WILL have to change his mindset. And he knows that.

Now I’m going to change direction on you now…a complete 180. I can’t write a blog without something fun to end it on. I’m the “glass is half full” gal, remember?

The people I’ve met this past (almost) month have been amazing. From the (70ish) twin gospel singer caddies in Orlando, to Sonny Skinner, to Paul Claxton’s caddy today. Jason introduced himself to me this morning before the round and when I introduced myself back as “Leslie Werkmeister”…his response was priceless! “Oh! You’re Tom’s better half!” Well yes, yes I am! I explained to him that most people know me as “Tom’s wife”. He said, “I know exactly what you mean, I’m Becky’s husband!” He said if it weren’t for her, he’d never get a foot in the door…but once he’s in, then he has them. She’ll check on him every now & then during social functions…to be sure he’s holding his own – and he always does. Just fine in fact. You see he’s the extrovert in their relationship. Sound familiar? I do just fine when we get to wherever we go…but without Tom, I don’t want a foot in the door. I don’t want to even go near the door if he’s not there. He IS my reason for being. I AM Tom Werkmeister’s wife…and I’m damn proud of it.

There’s Blood in the Water

By nature, sharks are only predators in search of other sea life…but it’s said that if there’s blood in the water, they’ll instinctively attack – sometimes even humans – but typically only because they think they’re other sharks. I feel like Tom didn’t realize there was blood in the water yesterday. He was just swimming along, feeding on plankton. It wasn’t until it was over that he realized it was a game of eat or be eaten. That there was plenty of blood in the water and he was almost eaten alive. He narrowly escaped with just a few bruises. That changed today. He saw the blood and he knew he needed to go on the attack.

I know, I know…if you’ve read my blogs you’ll laugh because I’m using another fish analogy. First salmon, now sharks. But if you’ve read my blogs you’ll also know that I believe nature teaches us things. Life lessons. Maybe it’s God’s way of teaching us in a way we can understand.

The important thing now is that he knows that there are lots of sharks out there and if they smell blood, they may come after him again…so he needs to be on the alert just like they are – and be just as ready & willing to attack.

If you’re wondering what “the blood” is…it’s the course. It was there for the taking yesterday & even today; just maybe not as much as yesterday. What I know about Tom is that it doesn’t take much to get him to go on the attack again. In fact, he seems to be provoked when the blood starts to go away…that’s when he starts to get hungry and take advantage of the others who may be happy after one meal. Tom stays hungry. The harder the course gets, the more he likes it. Wind? Yup. Rain? You bet! Tucked pins? Bring it. He missed his first meal, he won’t miss another one.

Obviously he has a long way to go…he’s new to this ocean and he has to learn his way around. But he will learn. He will find where to hide and when to attack. Will it be this week? That remains to be seen but if anyone can come from behind, it’s him.

Now for the funny story of the day. We started on #10. On 18, a longish par 4, the walking scorer & I were halfway down the fairway waiting for the guys to hit. We see 2 balls in the fairway & carts start moving from the tee. Then they stop. Then bionic ears jumps out, walks behind the women’s tee and stands there. Then his caddy comes over & they start looking at his yardage book together. Yup. He topped his tee shot & didn’t even clear the women’s tees! I was stunned because that’s something I would do if I had to play the black tees…not someone in final stage q-school! So he hits a nice second shot, then his 3rd to about 6 feet and missed the putt for bogey. Off we go to the front 9. On #2 I believe it was…he hits his tee shot right, catches the cart path & gets about an extra 75 yds of roll past Tom’s tee shot (which was right down the middle of course). I was in my usual spot, halfway down the fairway & started walking toward the green while our 3rd in the group (now known as mechanical man) was getting ready to hit. I came up to bionic ears & he calls over to me & says, “how ’bout that tee shot, huh! Better than the one on 18, right!?!” I chuckled & told him, “where I’m from, if a guy can’t clear the women’s tees from his tee shot, he has to drop his pants!” He then told me he thought about it but with all the sexual harassment suits flying around & me in the group…he thought better of it! (It’s okay…I wasn’t going to enforce that rule anyway bionic ears). We laughed a bit, he told me another quick story about his bar night & we bonded. He’s really not a bad guy after all…he didn’t even have to glare at anyone today…probably because mechanical man didn’t speak & Tom likes bionic ears. He thinks he’s funny. I could tell bionic ears liked him too…in fact he did tell me that he didn’t like their 3rd from the day before very much. That must explain the chastising & glaring.

Tomorrow we’ll begin our round like we’ve been doing…offering up a prayer for wisdom, grace & understanding of whatever God’s will brings for the day. Then it’s time to go hunting.

When Good isn’t Good Enough

While texting back & forth with our friend Steve yesterday regarding Tom’s lackluster practice round, he made the comment that “even average Tommy is pretty good”. While in any other tournament I might agree, in this particular event, and any others to follow, good isn’t even good enough. If you don’t bring your A game, you’ll get lapped. One look at today’s scores shows you that.

Now…that being said, as I posted on Facebook earlier; Golf is a fickle mistress. -10 today can be +5 tomorrow and +1 today can be -6 tomorrow…and while the 1st scenario is unlikely, the 2nd scenario certainly is possible. Add to that the wise words of Greg Johnson, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” and you have the makings of all kinds of possibilities. Being a half-full kind of gal (most of the time), I like our odds.

Today was just one of those days it seems. I’m fairly certain that Tom’s ball was afraid of the dark. On #13 it rolled completely around the cup! It practically went in & came out! How it didn’t go in is a mystery. He also burned the edges on several holes. His ball striking on the other hand, was great. He hit 14/18 greens and when he missed a fairway, it was only at most by a foot (other than on 18, where he managed to find a fairway bunker). He’s currently trying to devise a plan for tomorrow with Mike which has included the following: hitting ‘the range’ before his round, Tom playing his tee shot & approach shots & tagging Mike in to putt for him, buying a 2-ball putter from Second Swing, putting with the claw, left-hand-low, and putting left-handed (with his right-handed putter). Yup. It’s like that.

The guys he played with today were interesting as well…I’m pretty sure one of them either has bionic ears or he turned his hearing aid up WAY too high. Early in the round he chastised Tom & the other player because they were whispering chatting off to the side of the green about 50 feet away. Then, later in the round, the other players caddy let a club lightly clink against another club while putting it in his players bag – while this guy was putting – forcing him to pull off his putt & glare at the caddy! This must’ve amused God because as he was over his putt again, a very zealous bird in a tree just off the edge of the green began cackling & generally just being REALLY obnoxious. It. Was. Awesome.

So there’s one round in the books. Three more to go. I invite you, if you’re so inclined, to say a prayer for Tom. Not for a miracle, but that God’s will be done and that whatever that is, that he grant us the grace, wisdom & acceptance of His will, because when all is said & done…this is just golf, and when we come home, our support crew will welcome him (us) as they always do, whether he finishes 1st, 10th or last.

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore…

I’ve never been to a desert golf course before today. Stunning is a good word…but what makes it that way is the stark contrast between the azure blue skies, the lush green fairways and the rest of the brown topography. When you get away from the golf course, it’s almost weird how…brown everything is! The houses are brown. The bushes are brown. The trees are brown. The mountains are brown. Most of the people are brown (okay tan, allow me some literary license on that one please). Yes, we are a long way from home, and while it’s about 40 degrees warmer here, it’s about 6 colors cooler on the spectrum. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating it…I just don’t know if I could live here…for long.

The golf however. The golf is pretty incredible. The fairways are seeded in Ryegrass and the rough is Bermuda over seeded with Ryegrass. Ryegrass is what we Midwesterners are most familiar with…that beautiful lush green grass you see on most golf courses. I’m told that Ryegrass is not as drought tolerant as Bermuda though…and I know it’s not nearly as tough to play on, but when you’re in a dry, hot climate, Bermuda is what you most likely will be playing on. Bermuda grass can be very difficult because it grows in kind of a web. Your ball can either sit on top of that web, or down in it, and it’s hard to tell just by looking at it. That means you never know how the ball will come out of it! You may catch a flyer out of it (where the ball just jumps off the club face), or it may come out like a brick. Over seeded Bermuda is a little easier because the Ryegrass grows up through it making it a little less “webby”. That was your horticulture lesson for today.

Aside from the grass…one look at the list of players who qualified to be here let’s you know that these guys are good. Real good. Tom had the pleasure of playing with Sonny Skinner again today – he played with him in the last round of the 1st stage qualifying. He’s a former tour player (Web.com and Champions Tour) and an all-around great guy. He’s from a little town in Georgia and has a great southern drawl. Tom first got to know Sonny when our friend JP took Tom down to Georgia on a “scouting trip” back in early Spring…the whole purpose of that trip was to play with a couple tour pros (Sonny and James Mason), pick their brains about the tour & see if they thought Tom should even bother trying to make a run for it. The result of that trip was a new confidence and a new friend for Tom. I think it’s going to prove to be one of his most important friendships out here as well. Sonny knows everyone & is kind enough to introduce Tom to the guys he knows.

I got to ride in the cart with Sonny during the round today. Such a knowledgeable, confident and methodical player. This is his 4th time in the Final Stage qualifier – which is always held at the Champions Course at TPC Scottsdale. His process of preparation was so thorough…truly impressive! He had an old yardage book with all his notes in it from prior rounds; but apparently they’ve redone the course a bit, so he would stop & check 3-4 sprinkler heads on each hole to ensure his book was still correct. (Fortunately, this course actually has a yardage book and MARKED sprinkler heads for yardage’s, unlike the Disney course – which had neither). Now don’t let the fact that he’s been here 4 times make you second guess Sonny’s playing abilities; Sonny is an amazing player, I got to witness that firsthand when he made 2 on a par 4 from 204 yards out…in the right rough! He likes to talk to his ball too, calls it ‘sugar’ (shug when he really needs it to be nice). He’s super positive and just a great guy. The fact that it’s his 4th time around just goes to show you that it’s hard, REALLY hard out here.

Making friends out here is important to the whole picture as well. It’s hard to go from knowing most everyone at a tournament (GAM), to knowing a few people at a tournament (USGA) to knowing no-one at a tournament (PGA). Sonny says he likes Tom…he can tell he has a passion for the game & a humble demeanor. If he only knew how humble Tom really is…and how that humility probably kept him from becoming a pro sooner! In fact, I’m pretty sure Tom is the only one who doesn’t know how good Tom is. Sonny says that’s unusual out here…that a lot of guys seem to think they walk on water (my words, not his)…I’m sure you understand what I mean by that.

Tomorrow he gets to play with Sonny again and Scott Perri in another practice round. Scott Perri was the ‘medalist’ at the Florida qualifier by 3-shots and according to both Tom & Mike, as good a golfer as he is a great guy. I am going to be working (remotely) so I won’t get to watch that round. Anyone who knows Tom knows practice rounds to him are like watching paint dry…you need to make sure it dries, you just don’t want to watch it! Today was a “meet & greet” for him and TPC Scottsdale. His plan tomorrow is to stir up a game with the other 2 guys to force him into more of a “grind” mode. That’s Tom’s version of practice. Usually his games are for who buys the drinks. Considering a Beam & Coke at the clubhouse was $10 and a double-Sapphire Gin was $21; it could get pricey…at least enough so that it should shift Tom VanWerkmeistersma into grind mode!

The clubhouse from 9 fairway is above

On our way!

Toms coach/caddy Mike Boogaard and his wife Lora are with Tom & I waiting for big bird to take us somewhere warm! I mostly wanted to play with this post to see how I could insert pictures…but I also wanted to introduce you all to the ‘man behind the scenes’, Mike Boogaard, aka Boogs (pro: bohgs). He’s the guy who’s really brought Tom to the next level & who hopefully will continue to push him along.

So enough for now, we leave soon (1pm) so I need to take my drugs & try to relax. I’ll post pictures and/or video of the course tomorrow now that I know I can!

My China doll…

Here’s something I never thought about until Tom decided to try to become a tour professional golfer; he has to be REALLY careful! Most people know about the infamous “hover board incident” in 2015 when I brought home a hover board & tried to teach him to ride it…that ended in a broken elbow. Strangely enough, the next year was one of his best golf years! That was the year he had a streak of 20+ rounds under par. Regardless, there will be no more hover boards in our home.

I once heard that Jane London’s legs were insured for $1M at one point…I’m beginning to understand why. The other day Tom was trying to get a lid off of a jelly jar which had obviously been “glued” tight…he had to reef on it to get it open and ended up straining his wrist. Fortunately, our close friend Eric Hartman is a wonderful chiropractor & he’s made time over the last few days to see him and treat him. It’s helped a lot.

Now I come down with this sinus infection yesterday…and I am running around like a crazy person in my daughter’s house with anti-bacterial wipes trying to keep everyone from catching this virus, especially Tom, insisting that NO-ONE touch anything I’ve touched. Normally I’d just accept that inevitably he’s next, but that’s simply not acceptable, we need him to get through the next week first!

These are the things you never think about when living with a professional athlete…that their hands, feet, legs – their bodies, as much as their minds – are their livelihood. I’ve had many outpatient surgeries because I was blessed with Osteoarthritis, but I’ve always been able to work while recovering. That isn’t an option with a professional athlete.

I used to jokingly call him my “Princess”…and he still is, but I think I’ll preface that now with “China Doll”…he’s my “China Doll Princess”. Good thing he’s also the love of my life…he’s become awfully high maintenance! 😂

What if he doesn’t make it!?!?

I was reminded today that not everyone understands this crazy process to become a touring professional golfer. I probably should’ve written this last week…after my daughter asked me to draw a flowchart for her to show to her coworkers…none of whom golf but are trying to follow Tom’s progress. I apologize…sometimes I forget that not everyone loves golf like we do!

The question asked most often is, “what happens if he doesn’t make it through this stage of qualifying? Does that mean he can’t play in any Champions Tour tournaments? Does he have to wait another year to try again?” The other question is, “what happens if he qualifies?” I have to giggle that the 2nd question isn’t the most often asked, but I get it…the answer may seem obvious, but it really isn’t.

The answers are a bit involved, but I’ll try to make it simple and give some background to go with it, so bear with me.

There are 2 stages to qualifying; 1st Stage and the Final Stage. There were also two sites conducting the 1st Stage qualifying; Orlando, FL (where Tom was) and Nippon, CA. There were 67 players at the FL site and 74 at the CA site. 27 players from each of those sites made it through to the Final Stage qualifying (Tom being one of them) which is being held at The Champions Course at TPC Scottsdale in Arizona. Joining those 54 players are 24 exempt players who did not have to participate in the 1st Stage qualifying; typically these are Senior Tour pros or Senior PGA pros who lost their status somehow and need to qualify to get it back (“status” meaning they were on the Champions Tour but can’t stay because they didn’t earn enough money). You see, in the world of Professional Tour Players, your ability to play in the tournaments without having to qualify is determined by how much you made the previous year (which is directly proportionate to how well you play). This is true of the regular PGA Tour and the Champions Tour. There are other ways to maintain your status; the most obvious of which is winning a major tournament that has exemptions that come with the win. Think Tiger Woods…he didn’t earn much last year playing golf, but since he has won so many majors, he still has exemptions available to him that keep him eligible to play in the Tour events.

Now that you have some background, let’s go back to the Champions Tour & Tom’s prospects as they apply to it.

From the Final Stage of qualifying will come 3 potential outcomes; the top 5 finishers will earn their status on the Champions Tour for 2018. This means they can play in any of the tour events without having to qualify, but that card is only good for the 1st half of the season! This is what all 78 players want. Finishers placing 6-30th will earn what’s called, “provisional status”. More on that later. All of the rest of the players will be left to have to try to qualify for tournaments via a 2-stage process for EACH TOURNAMENT. Kind of a pain in the ass, but there’s a reason the guys playing on the tour are as good as they are. They earned it.

In Tom’s particular situation, regardless of how he finishes next week, he can’t play in any Champions Tour event (or even try to qualify) until he turns 50, which is March 8th. If he were to finish in the top 5, his card would be temporarily given to the next one down (6th place) until he’s old enough to compete. So what does he do until then? Fortunately there’s a mini-tour for mid-seniors (players ages 47+) that is held mainly down South where guys who may not be able to compete with the younger players but who aren’t old enough to play on the Senior Tour can still compete and hone their skills. This is where Tom will probably be competing until he turns 50.

Now to explain what happens if you finish outside of the top 30 from the Final Stage of qualifying. This doesn’t mean you can’t play on the Tour, it just means you have to again try to qualify; on an individual tournament basis. For example; let’s say there’s a Champions Tour event coming up. The Thursday before that event they will have a pre-qualifier. From the pre-qualifier, a certain number of players will earn their way to the final qualifying tournament (I have no idea how many or how they determine how many). That qualifying tournament will be held the very next Monday and from that qualifier, a certain number of guys will earn spots in that actual Champions Tour event being held the next weekend. As you can see, again, it’s not easy…but here’s a kicker; even if you qualify to play in that event, you still may not be able to play! Let’s say they fill a Champions Tour event with regularly exempt players and Monday qualifier players. Then…a past champion (or Champions) decide they want to play in that event for whatever reason. The first ones to be bumped so they can play are the Monday qualifier guys! It doesn’t seem fair, but then again, it’s all about earning your place. One good thing that comes from making it through a Thursday pre-qualifier is that once you do so, you are exempt from future Thursday pre-qualifiers…so basically you earn Provisional Status.

Now to explain Provisional Status and what that means, or at least I’ll try. There isn’t a ton of information made public regarding this whole process, so I’m going to explain it with the information I’ve been given. I apologize if it’s not 100% correct, but you’ll get the idea. Going back to those players from the Final Stage of qualifying who finished 6-30th; they will earn what’s called Provisional Status on the Champions Tour as I stated earlier. This means that they are exempt from having to Thursday pre-qualify for tour events but will still have to Monday qualify.

So I think that about covers it! Simple, huh? People often asked Tom in the past why he didn’t turn Pro. Qualifying for the regular PGA Tour is even tougher – and requires you to earn your way through playing in the Web.com tour & finish in the top of that tour’s money list. Matt Harmon is going through that process now & can tell you how brutal it is to compete at that level…at least Tom gets to compete with old guys – who happen to still play REALLY good golf!

Happy to be Home…for a Couple Days at Least

We arrived back home today & got to spend some time with our closest friends at our favorite place, Putt-Putts bar. It’s so cool to be able to come home for a reality check. The people we call our closest friends make sure to keep Tom humble and rooted, all the while being his biggest supporters. I wouldn’t trade these people for anyone.

Happy 🦃 Thanksgiving to you all…I’m going to take a break for a couple days, then I’ll continue writing when we get to Scottsdale on Saturday! Until then, make sure you remember what your most thankful for..for us it’s our massive support group of family & friends! ❤️

What Happened?

I don’t even know what to write right now. I think, to avoid giving away too much, I’ll just say that it’s amazing how one hole can torch a good round. Don’t let Tom’s score today fool you. He was -1 when he made an 8 on #15 because he put 2 in the water. One of his playing partners put one in the water also. It’s not an especially tough hole…but let me back up & explain what happened the hole before. Short, reachable par 4, aptly names Roulette. Total risk/reward hole with water left. Tom hit a decent shot but it leaked a little left & found water. He took a drop & promptly stuck a wedge to about 3 feet & made his putt for miracle par. He felt good about that. Now back to 15 and that nasty 8. He does what Tom Werkmeister does…he went at the pin and again, lost it left. Drop another ball…put another in the water. I was beginning to have visions of Tin Cup. He managed to play the 3rd ball safely right. Well right. Add a 2 putt for an 8 and you go from -1 to +4 in one hole. I won’t even go into how the 2 bogeys that followed happened except to say it wasn’t as bad as it looks on paper.

He’s obviously pretty disappointed, because like I’ve said before…in Tom Werkmeister’s world, this type of thing is unacceptable. He simply doesn’t allow himself to have a bad round. Ever.

So goes the bad side of being a golf wife. The stress is tolerable when your man can deal with these types of outcomes and move on…and he will move on…but my God it will feel like an eternity until he does.

HE MADE IT!!

He shot 70 today, hit 14/18 greens and showed me that although he scrambled…he brought his game. I am going to add that the Lord was with us today as well. Tom & I prayed before this round & God was good, as he always is.

He’s off to Scottsdale a week from tomorrow for the final stage of qualifying; where the competition will be 10 times better. He’ll work with Mike on his weakness, which is putting right now, and hopefully be prepared for the most intense competition yet!

I’ll post more later…it’s time to PARTY!