My First Taste of the TOUR
By Kenny Pigman, PGA Professional, Goose Creek GC
This was always my dream growing up. It's all I ever wanted to do. I wanted to play on the PGA TOUR and compete with the best players in the world. I simply wanted to play golf at the highest level. Now I'm here...
I took somewhat of an unconventional route to making it out on TOUR. The harsh reality and high stress of grinding week to week and paycheck to paycheck was a tough prospect, so I relied on my passion for teaching to sustain my career in golf.
I became a Class A PGA Pro just over a year ago and that's when everything changed. Playing in Southern California, Class A PGA members get three chances a year to compete to win a Section event, with the winner getting into one of the Tour events on the West Coast swing.
The 2016 Section Championship happened to be my time where everything I've dreamed of would align.
On the back 9 of the 2nd round in the Section Championship, I birdied 5 of 6 holes, which gave me a nice cushion heading into the final round. I knew a shot at the Career Builder Challenge was on the line, but I had to stay in the moment. I had to accept the pressure and not run from it. I had a 5-shot lead on the 14th hole and I pulled my 2nd shot dead left, leaving a brutal pitch to try and get up-and-down. But I put my nose to the grindstone and pulled off one of the best up-and-downs of my life. I saved par and knew the tournament was mine to win.
I had won the Section Championship. I was about to play on the PGA TOUR and fulfill my dream. I couldn't wait to see what being on TOUR was all about.
It's the week of the Career Builder at PGA West. I've got my preparation done and I'm ready to roll. I had some nerves early on in the week, but I've been trying to think of it as any other golf tournament. It just happens to be the best field I've ever played against, which makes staying calm easier said than done. But I keep reminding myself that this is what I've always wanted. I'm here. I made it. Now it's times to see how my game stacks up against a TOUR-caliber field.
It has already been a surreal experience, but to this point, the best part of the week has been getting to check out the TaylorMade Tour Truck and get dialed in with the latest equipment with the best technicians in golf. I've been a TM staffer for about two years and this is the first time I've been able to experience what it's like to get the official Tour Pro treatment. Let me tell you, I can get used to this. After a few tweaks to my new M2 fairway and M1 driver, I was dialed in.
Before I headed to PGA WEST, fellow PGA Member Michael Block—who has played in 11 TOUR events over the past few years—gave me some great words of advice, "Just don't wear yourself out. Keep your game sharp and your mind right. Just go play KP golf."
However, it has been tough to follow that advice and avoid wearing myself out. Since I arrived, I've been relentlessly preparing—hitting ball after ball and chip after chip to make sure my game is 100% dialed in when Thursday comes around.
Early on in the week, I found myself playing a full round and grinding hard on the range. But with Block's words of advice in the back of my mind, I decided to take a lighter approach to my practice regiment this past Tuesday and Wednesday. I elected to play no more than nine holes a day, work on some simple things on the range, and ensure that I am well rested before my Thursday tee time.
Now it's Wednesday night and my prep is complete. I've got my bag dialed in. It's time to get some rest and get my mind right for tomorrow.
The night before you tee it up in any tournament, let alone your first PGA TOUR event, there is a lot running through your mind. I'm trying to keep my mind off of golf as much as I can because I know that the preparation I put into my game, all of the hours on the range beating balls, and the hours grinding on slight imperfections are going to pay off. My caddie and I have this course mapped out perfectly, and I know when and where to pick my spots.
Trust the process and envision success.
It's go time. This is the dream. This is what it's all about. This is my chance to showcase my skills at the highest level. Time to dig deep and see what I'm made of.
I will be sure to soak in every minute out there and enjoy the moment, but hopefully this is just the beginning of something even greater.
Let's have some fun.