Q-School Part Deux

Been there. Done that.

You’d think with one go-around of Q-School under our belts we’d have been pros at it this 2nd time – that it would’ve been far less stressful because we knew what to expect. Well I’m here to tell ya’…it was harder this second time than the first time. A lot harder. Why? Not sure really…other than to say it seems to all be part of the package deal as a professional golfer who’s not fully exempt into the tour. Nothing is expected and nothing (and I mean NOTHING) is easy.

Silly me. I kind of thought we’d coast through first stage, I mean, top 30? No problem…and the score didn’t matter if you made it. All that mattered is you made it. Little did I know that there was a whole lot going on with Tom Werkmeister prior to finishing first stage…like the pressure he’d felt to advance. Apparently I was the only one who wasn’t worried. That is until the last 5 holes of the 4th round of first stage. Then I was worried. Tom, however, carried with him the weight of the world, concerned that if he didn’t make it through first stage he’d risk losing face with his sponsors; and everyone else for that matter. Apparently I was the only one who didn’t see this as some sort of defining moment. My bad. All I know is that golf is nothing if not unpredictable…but if I had to bet on someone involving golf, my money is on Tom.

The only thing you’re sure of out here is if you don’t shoot under par that day, you’re gonna be behind the pack – how far then becomes your biggest concern.

Going into second stage was a little more nerve-wracking. I sensed Tom’s confidence level was waning after his first stage finish…but deep down I wasn’t terribly worried. In fact, truth be told, I was actually more nervous that he’d actually make the top 5 this year. Not nervous in the sense that I was scared of him getting his card; nervous that it was a possibility. That nervousness went full-blown anxiety during the third round of second stage when he was actually leading for a few holes while I was back at our rented condo working. I was trying to ignore the scoring & just check in every now & again. Then he shot up the leaderboard and I was close to losing my mind. Let me tell you that if you haven’t followed the online scoring before, waiting on hole-by-hole scores to be posted sucks. The 20 minutes or so between scores showing on the website feels like 20 years. People were texting me excited at what was going on…I was eating everything in sight (I’m a stress-eater) and I couldn’t get anything done. By the end of the day he was still in the top 10 and the stress level was pegged at 10 out of 10.

So keeping in true Werkmeister fashion, we went out to dinner that night with a friend. Tom likes to keep things as normal as possible during tournaments and going to dinner and having a few drinks is not unusual for us to do after a round. However, my level of stress was about 15 out of 10 after that day at home alone…away from the golf course & my husband…waiting for each hole score to be posted. I was in such a knot after work that I actually had a glass of wine at dinner to try to calm down! (For those of you who don’t know me that well…I don’t drink because alcohol triggers my migraines. I hadn’t had alcohol in over a year but let me tell you that one glass of wine was totally worth the ensuing migraine afterward!) My stress level lowered to a manageable 9 out of 10 after that glass of wine & somehow I even managed to sleep that night.

The next morning was a typical tournament morning. No talking outside of the necessary conversation and out the door in military fashion. The drive was quiet (as usual) and when we got to the course we all went about our routines. Then the round got underway…and I watched my hopes for something great slowly fade away. I can’t explain to you what it feels like to watch someone you love giving all they’ve got to make their dream come true, only to be denied. It’s heartbreaking. While Tom managed to hold it together to stay well within the top 30 (he finished T18); being so close to seeing your dream come true, only to have it just out of arms reach was a brutal disappointment. Add to that a bogey on the last hole to drop him from T13 to T18 and it’s like someone literally beating you into submission with your own arm. I’ve seen Tom go through some low moments in golf; this was by far the lowest. We waited around for a few moments making sure his buddy Scott Pieri was indeed going to be inside the top 30 (he was on the bubble)…and when we were sure he was, we hit the road back to the condo.

And now we come to the part where I admit that I’m not the perfect golf wife. That I am guilty of a horrible golf wife sin. This is the “where the rubber meets the road” moment that I’m most ashamed of. So why am I going to share it with you? Because I believe in doing so, I’ll make sure it NEVER happens again and because I promised to take you all inside the ropes of this journey…good & bad.

All along I’d been saying that the WORST thing that could happen is he’d lose status & have to Thursday qualify. And I believed that if that were the case, it wouldn’t take him long to get past a Thursday qualifier and a Monday qualifier & into an event – and then he’d have that same associate status he had the year before going forward. It was just a different way to the same end. I mean, I REALLY BELIEVED that. But when he was in the top 10 after the third round, something in me changed. I saw the Tom Werkmeister game I knew he had and suddenly top 30 wasn’t good enough.

So when his game left him that day…walking & watching, I felt an unusual feeling come over me. It was a frustration I’d not really experienced before. Sure, I’ve been frustrated with his game before, but this was different. Maybe I was feeling his feelings again (I do that a lot), or maybe it was just a residual of the stress level from the night before; but that day, I felt like my dreams were also being snuffed out, that maybe all this hard work (on all our parts) just wasn’t going to be good enough. And the saddest part is in the end, really…he’d done what he needed to do! He’d finished better than the year before & maintained his status. But this time good enough wasn’t good enough.

We got in the car to go home & I cracked. I expressed my frustration in what I thought was his giving up mid-round. I brought up all the things I’d seen that day and gave my opinion on his performance (which wasn’t good).

I. Was. An. Asshole. (Sorry for the language…but that’s what I was)

Here was a man…a gentle man…a fragile man at that time…who just had what was arguably the worst day of his life to date…and here I was compounding it. Rubbing salt into a wound is being kind. I was beating him to death with his own arm.

Golf wife fail…on SO many levels.

I’ll leave out the details of the fallout that ensued and cut to the end…I apologized. A lot. I practically begged for his forgiveness (which he eventually offered) and made a solemn vow to him that night. I would step back. I need to be Tom’s “safe place”. To be where he goes to seek shelter from the storm that is the stress of professional golf. I need to let his caddies & coach weather the storm on the golfcourse with him…and while I will walk & watch every round like I always do, I will NOT criticize him or offer my take on his game anymore (unless it’s positive). That day I learned a lot about myself (not much good) and that day will forever be what I feel to be the most awful thing I’ve ever done in the 20 years we’ve been married. Fortunately, I am truly married to my best friend and he loves me despite my failures.

Fast forward to today – we’ve moved past that…and he will never speak of it again…because that’s just who he is. Me? I purposefully will never forget that day…or that week. I only pray that I NEVER break my vow and I truly remain his always safe place.