Let's say you are 16 and you become inspired by Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men, so you decide you want to be a lawyer. How long will it be before you stand in front of a jury in an important case? You will be in school until you are 25 and then you will need to pass the bar exam in your state. When you get a job in a firm specializing in criminal law, you will be put to work doing research for one of the partners. If you are lucky, you will stand in front of a jury for a big case when you are in your early 30's.
Now let's say you were 15 and similarly inspired, but this time by Davis Love or Fred Couples. Oops, that is a late start for golf. You haven't earned your stripes so you will probably have to walk onto a golf team in college, like Jason Dufner did at Auburn. Or, you could be a guy with no pedigree and go to a technical college to prepare for a life as a machinist, like Tommy Gaines. How about if you were a talented player for most of your life and competed against the best, but your game wasn't ready for the big time like Mark Wilson. Wilson went to qualifying school many times and when he did make it to the big tour, it took 111 starts to get his first win. He was 32 years old.
No matter what your profession, there is a learning curve if you want to compete with the best. Most of us watch the PGA Tour on Sunday with no idea of what the guys competing have gone through to get to that point. Most of them spent years on the mini tours traveling by car from event to event. Many struggled to find the money to compete or the will to continue when so many doubted their abilities. There are no draft picks in golf, no signing bonuses or free agency. You earn your way every step and your past means nothing. I know I have written about this before, but I find it so inspiring to watch guys like Mark Wilson, Tommy Gainey and Jason Dufner in the spotlight, knowing that they scratched and clawed their way to that place. Their faith in themselves is their number one asset. Congratulations to all of them and I hope that Jason and Tommy get a win soon.