The People You Meet Along the Way – Part 3

I apologize for the delay in updates; I’m still struggling with how to write an informed, interesting blog when I’m somewhat removed from “the action”. Fortunately I get to accompany Tom to his next qualifier in Duluth, GA. We leave Friday April 6th…3 day’s after we celebrate 20 years of marriage! I decided to go with him since we really won’t have another opportunity to celebrate – and why not celebrate our marriage doing the thing that’s been the center of our lives anyway? However. That also happens to be Masters weekend and his tour status allows for him to get into PGA events for free. We also have some PGA friends who will be going down to The Masters this year to watch. Hopefully I’ll see him at some point that weekend.

Back to my story. With the first of Tom’s qualifiers behind him, he’s well on his way to learning and being comfortable with his new role as professional golfer…and it’s still really weird for me to say that. If you know Tom (or read my blogs – wink-wink), it won’t surprise you that as he progresses through this adventure, he’s managed to meet and get to know some really interesting people along the way.

In Part 2 of this series I mentioned his meeting Sonny Skinner during his trip to GA with our friend JP, when he (officially) made his decision to turn pro (which, in May, will be a year ago). He saw Sonny again at first round qualifying in Florida and also met & got to know another player, Scott Pieri. I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting Scott until we saw him in Scottsdale, but I heard nice things about him from both Tom & his coach/caddy Mike. Tom RARELY says anything bad about someone; if he doesn’t like you, he just disregards you by making sure he’s not where you are and essentially just forgets he ever met you. Conversely, if he likes you, he will welcome you into his world with open arms & treat you like family. This is also true of his playing partners that he comes to know & like. I can’t tell you how many times my brother Mike & his wife Jan have indulged Tom’s desire to help and make welcome players were playing in tournaments on the State’s East side by allowing him to invite them to stay at their home. Thank God they are awesome humans because we’ve paraded quite the menagerie of players through their home! Also thank God that as a rule, we don’t associate with anyone who would be less than respectful of this unique situation! Anyway, I’ve digressed. Let me go back where I was heading…

Scott made an immediate impression on Tom as a genuinely nice guy, not unlike Tom in that he was out there just trying to follow a dream. He had no misconceptions about how hard it would be to play in a lot of the events or how good the players out there are…but his was a passion much like Tom’s and one he couldn’t deny. However, the thing that Tom enjoyed most about Scott was his infectious positivity. He simply loved playing golf and he was there to give it all he had. If that effort falls short, he just looks forward to the next opportunity. Tom shares that passion; but he sometimes can struggle with the looking forward part. This is something he works on regularly and has noticeably improved upon over the last 6 months – but that doesn’t change his admiration for someone to whom it comes naturally.

When I finally had the pleasure of meeting Scott in Scottsdale (hah…ironic) I observed that positivity immediately. I also noticed that genuineness Tom had tried to convey to me. Surprisingly (or not) his caddy Dave was equally as engaging. I could well understand Tom’s desire to include Scott in his circle of playing friends (playing friends are guys you enjoy playing golf with, but know that your lives are so different that your friendship likely won’t extend past that – not because you don’t want it to – but because it typically just isn’t feasible). Sonny fits well into this category as well – miles separate their lives but the sport makes the miles disappear once they’re on the course together. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t share personal stories or talk about their life challenges off the course, but they share a game that’s so honor-bound and full of tradition that it makes for a whole other level of friendship that truly seems unique to this great sport called, “Golf”.

Scott did not finish Q-School in Scottsdale the way he’d hoped…so Tom wasn’t sure when he’d see him again, but he had his number so he knew they could stay in contact. Over the next couple months, Tom & Scott kept in touch about the upcoming senior events & qualifiers. Tom let Scott know that his first Monday qualifier would be in Biloxi, MS. Scott wasn’t sure which pre-qualifiers he’d planned on playing in; but then shortly before Tom’s trip to Miami, he heard from Scott that he was indeed going to be in Biloxi. As is true to character for my husband, he welcomed Scott to stay with him at the AirBnB home he’d rented & was staying in alone if he advanced past the pre-qualifier. Tell me; what other sport does a competitor welcome a fellow competitor and try to make them feel comfortable so they can possibly take away from you a coveted spot in the playing field? Golf. That’s about the only sport I can think of where 2 guys who will duel in the heat of competition will then return to the same place of comfort to share stories and a cocktail.

Have I mentioned how much I love this sport? ❤️

Unfortunately Scott didn’t not advance from the Friday pre-qualifier to the Monday qualifier…but he did stay an extra day/night in Biloxi and played golf with Tom on Saturday. Tom got to know Scott better during his visit in Biloxi, including learning that he hosts a radio show/podcast called “Birdies & Bogeys”. You can find it on Facebook here.

Scott left Sunday to go back to his home in Ft Wayne and unbeknownst to him, made Tom’s stay that much nicer. Just another example of how the golf is important, but it’s the people you meet along the way that make the adventure worthwhile.

Read about Scott’s quest to be on the PGA Champions Tour here.

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