The last few months have obviously been a little busy for me since I just realized that I missed out on announcing the beginning of the 2011 Q-School journey. Ah, Q-School...one of my favorite yearly golf dramas that goes seemingly unnoticed by almost the entire golf world. Hundreds of golf dreamers, golf veterans, and future golf super stars embark on this journey each year, in the hopes of being presented a PGA Tour Card after the Final Qualifying stage that includes 6 grueling rounds and less than 30 invitations to become a full-fledged member" the Tour".
Just a quick review...golfers may need to play in up to 4 stages, but can be exempt all the way into the final stage based on a whole list of criteria. The road isn't cheap...pre-qualifiers fork over $2,700-$3,000 (the range is based on when you pay...early bird discounts!), and if they advance out of pre-qualifying they need to pay another $2,500. First stage, another $4,500-$6,000; second stage $4,000-$5,000; final stage $3,500-$4,500. If you do make it to the final stage, and you place in the top 50 you will get at least $5,000 in earnings, with the winner taking home $50,000.
Quick Trivia!! Remember last year's winner? Okay, a hint...a PGA Tour Veteran...turned professional in 1988 and has 5 PGA Tour victories...used to wear a Mutual of Omaha hat. Did you get it? It's Billy Mayfair! In 2011, Mayfair has pocketed less than $600,000 and is sitting at 127 on the money list. I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the fields for the remainder of the fall series. The good news is if he needs to head back to Q-school to retain his card, he will be exempt all the way to the final stage.
The 2011 Pre-qualifiers have already taken place in September. Seven sites, hosting over 500 dreamers, have set over 240 golfers on their journey to the first stage. Of course add to those the hundreds that have exempted themselves into the first stage and you've got your field ready to compete at 13 sites around the country starting October 18. It's kind of neat, I've been following Q-school long enough now that the course locations are familiar to me.
Once again I am searching out and following the Minnesota players...I don't know any of them personally, but I'm ready to root for them! Making it out of pre-qualifying are Jon Sauer from St. Cloud, MN, and Thomas Campbell of Mahtomedi, MN...from what I could find out about Jon is that he played some college golf at the University of New Mexico, graduating with a 4.0 average and being the number one player on that Division 1 squad. This now 25 year old has played one event on the eGolf Tour (which I had never heard of before this) and has also played 6 events on the Adams Pro Series Tour (never heard of this one either!).
I found a few more articles about him on the Minnesota Golf Association web site...last year, Sauer's plan was to sell stock in himself to generate $40,000 to compete and get ready to try Q-school in 2010...I checked my notes from last year and it looks like Jon didn't make it out of the first stage last year. Here's hoping for more success in 2011.
Thomas Campbell is a University of Minnesota alum that has his own blog! Campbell is from New Zealand and made his way over to the U of M and after finishing his golfing career he turned Pro last year. He also competed in Q-School in 2010 and just like Sauer, Campbell was not able to advance out of Stage 1 last year. Hopefully he'll be able to find his way out of stage one in a few weeks.
I've only looked at 2 of the hundreds of stories that want nothing more than to end with a PGA Tour card. No matter where you are I bet you can find someone who lives in your neck of the woods to follow, and I hope you do! I can't imagine how many fantastic journeys are out there to learn about.
With stage 1 still a few weeks away, the list of participants have not yet been posted. You can find all the Q-school info here: www.pgatour.com/qschool
I can't wait to follow more dreamers!