If I Was… Able To Go Back In Time Part 2

By Jim McNaney





Last issue, I talked about wanting to go back in time to be around some of the most memorable moments in golf history. This month, I want to go back in time to undo some of my biggest regrets in my golf life.

Mind you, I don’t have many regrets. I have been extremely fortunate throughout my career. I have met some of the game’s biggest stars like Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam. I have worked at some incredible courses like Innisbrook. I have been able to participate in and help raise funds for charities like the U of M Children’s Hospital, the YMCA, Tee it Up for the Troops, Colon Cancer Research and many more.

I even had the privilege of knowing one of golf’s most mysterious personalities… Moe Norman. Still, like many I’m sure, there are a few things I wish I could do differently.

Deciding On Golf Earlier

When I was a kid, I played every sport imaginable. My calendar was centered around what sport season it was. Football started in late August. Basketball began right around Thanksgiving. There was a small break in March until baseball started in April. I usually filled that time with floor hockey.

In the summer, when I wasn’t playing baseball, there was time for golf and tennis. Given that my father worked for Brunswick, I even got a few frames of bowling in from time to time.

The thing is, I never committed to golf even though it was probably my best sport. I played a ton but most of my friends didn’t play and I am a social person. I liked playing team sports. I liked the comradery… the feeling that I was working with others for a common goal.

After college, and a failed attempt at landing a spot on a professional baseball team, I decided I wanted to concentrate on golf and make it my profession. Now I was not delusional enough to think that at age 24 I was going to work on my game and make it to the PGA TOUR. Instead, I decided I would work in the business of golf.

After spending the better part of 30 years in the business doing everything from running events, teaching, writing and even folding shirts, I wish I had committed to golf when I was younger.

Golf made me a better person. I needed to learn to be less emotional in life. Golf helped me learn to temper my temper. Golf is a game of perseverance. As a child, I gave up too easily on myself. If things didn’t go well in my first at-bat, fairly certain I would go hitless that game. Golf is a game of self-reliance. I wasted many hours as a kid worrying about something my teammates did. I was dependent on others doing their job to accomplish my personal goals. While that is not unique to golf, I found later in life that I enjoy relying on myself to either succeed or fail.

Choose A Different Path

Let me start here by saying I truly love teaching golf. There is nothing like the feeling that comes over you when you get a text or email from a student saying they just shot their career low round after working with you.

Also, I absolutely LOVE working for GOLFTEC. It is a remarkable company with a simple but profound mission… help people play better golf.

But… one thing I did early in my career was run events. While at Innisbrook, I had two 40 hour a week jobs. I was a professional at one of the four resort courses and taught for the Troon Golf Institute. I also ran most of the corporate and PGA Section events held on the resort.

Running the PGA Section events was awesome. While I worked there, we even hosted the JC Penney Classic – a mixed team event with LGPA and PGA TOUR professionals competing together. Watching Slugger White and the other PGA TOUR staff run that event was impressive to say the least.

Think about it, you get to travel to some of the best courses and cities in the country (if not the world). You get to spend your work week looking at vistas like the 18th tee at Pebble Beach or taking in a sunset over the marsh at Sea Island Club on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia.

I had the opportunity early in my career to move into that part of the business. I decided not to, mainly because I thought a Head Professional job was the thing that meant the most in the industry. It was what I was “supposed” to aspire to.

I was wrong.

Still, with all the blessings golf has provided me, I suppose I ended up exactly where I was mean to be. I have a wonderful career; great family and I get to say I help people play better golf.

There are worse things in life.