Michigan Golfer ON-LINE

From the Editor

It's a nice number, isn't it? For golfers, it sums up one's round. And for us here at Michigan Golfer it also sums up how many years we've been at it these humble endeavors. Back in 1982 we placed the long-hitting Dan Pohl on our debut cover with a sensational photo of Pohl nearing impact with his explosive swing. At the time, Pohl was Michigan's best hope for fame and fortune on the PGA TOUR. For sure, the Mt. Pleasant native didn't disappoint his fans despite a series of career-nagging injuries. I mean, here's a guy that almost won a Masters (lost in a playoff to Stadler in 83); won two Tour events including the prestigious World Series of Golf; earned a Ryder Cup berth; won the Vardon Trophy for low scoring average; and finished as high as fifth on the Tour money list on year. Now that's some playing.

18 years later, another Michigan native, Jason Buha, jumps on the Tour merry-go-round in hopes of snatching a gold ring. Nowadays, just making the Tour is a notable achievement in and of itself. The explosion in world golf, college golf and the mini-tours all have greatly expanded the sheer number of talented golfers. As it's often been said, the depth of field in the modern game is so deep it makes comparisons of players records in different eras quite a spurious pastime. But what it takes to make the grade and to compete on the most competitive Tour in the world really hasn't changed. You better be very, very good. To me, I find it amusing to listen to players with limited achievement voice their sudden aspirations for making the Tour. Now, I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade after one has won a state or local event but to me getting to the Big Show of Golf is similar to landing a lead role on Broadway: expect to pay your dues with a series of small roles and successes. There are few if any overnight successes on the Tour or in the Big Apple. Look at Tiger Woods. The guy's the best player on the planet but at 24 years old he's a wily veteran of the game with 22 years of experience behind him.

So what does it take to make the Tour? Well, for starters would-be Tigers and Tigresses out there should be asking themselves some of these qualifying questions, drawn from the hard-earned observations and experiences of Tour veterans:

  • Have I won every major tournament in my local area and state? I mean, if you haven't won in your own backyard who are you kidding but yourself?

  • Am I capable of shooting in the 60s on a regular basis? Sure the game's standard is par but in the big leagues you better be three under and better on a consistent basis to make a living.

  • When I'm off my game, do I still find a way to be around par or better? This is one of the most revealing traits of Tour-level players: how they can get it in the hole when swing mechanics are off-kilter. Or as Ben Hogan once said, "Golf is a game of mistakes, and the object is keep your bad shots straight and in play."

  • Have I proven myself in tournaments with strong fields, whether it is in prep, state, USGA, college, state pro or mini-tour events? Again, virtually every Tour pro has risen up through these ranks.

  • Do you I have the inner strength and character to confront and overcome abject failure, self-doubt and disappointment? No better example of this is Tom Watson who when he started out on Tour was marked as a poor closer if not a downright choker. And couldn't the same be said of how Nick Faldo, Patty Sheehan or David Duval started their careers? Learning how to win seems wrapped up in learning how to lose.

  • In most cases, do I thrive and/or manage well pressure-packed situations? The key here is a quote from Byron Nelson: "Perhaps the strongest ingredient in the makeup of a champion is patience."

  • Can I cope well with the demands and doldrums of travel and being away from one's loved ones? Simply put, there's a lot of life to live and manage outside the ropes of a golf tournament. Be ready to face the inevitable and little celebrated by-products of the Tour: boredom, monotony and loneliness.

    After interviewing Jason Buha for the Q & A found in this issue, I'm convinced that the Dearborn native has the right stuff to follow in the footsteps of Dan Pohl, John Morse, Eric Booker, Kelly Robbins and Becky Iverson out on the Tour. Certainly, he has a good grip on all of the above questions. As such, it'll be a treat to follow his adventures in the coming months. And along the way, Buha has agreed to share his thoughts and experiences about life on the Tour with Michigan Golfer readers this year.

    So as this magazine walks down its 18th year, were proud to have Jason Buha leading the way.

    With this issue, I'm also pleased to announce the addition of Kelly Hill as Managing Editor for Michigan Golfer. Kelly will be assisting me part-time in sorting out the copy demands of the magazine while also continuing to be a regular and savvy contributor. Kelly is a fine and reliable writer with a good sense of the game and the golf industry here in Michigan. He's also a tireless stringer and freelance writer for the Grand Rapids Press. Because of those pressing duties and for all of the time and attention devoted to his wife Sandy and three young children, Kelly was a natural choice for me. You see, he's not as likely as yours truly to sneak off to the golf course in the middle of a deadline. Welcome aboard, Kelly.

    Terry Moore

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