Coston enjoys his long, strange trip in St. Louis
By John Kim, PGA.com Coordinating Producer
ST. LOUIS -- Golf seems to come easy to PGA Club Professional Jeff Coston. Getting to golf events – maybe not so much.
Coston, a PGA Teaching Professional at Semiahmoo Golf Resort in Blaine, Wash., fired rounds of 71-69 to cruise into the weekend at this week's Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid in a tie for eighth.
But for Coston, the story of how he made his way to Bellerive might be more interesting than the story of how he made his way into the top 10 heading into the third round. For starters, Coston’s Thursday included two flights on the same day as his tee time. Yes, you read that right.
Actually, Coston – like virtually everyone in the field – had a ball on the tee on Monday, trying to figure out how best to compete against an elite set of players. Only he wasn't here at Bellerive Country Club learning the course. He was in Kent, Wash., competing in the Washington State Open.
"I've won that championship four times," Coston explained. "No one has won it five (times). I really wanted to give it a shot."
The three-day tournament saw Coston play well enough to be in the final group on Wednesday, where he would ultimately end up tied for sixth. From there, he had to get to St. Louis for the start of the Senior PGA Championship.
Logistically, it wasn't too tough. Logically, it came with challenges.
"I caught the redeye out of Seattle and had a layover in Dallas. I was tired, so I laid down for a quick nap on a bench," Coston noted. "When I woke up, I thought, 'I'd better check the gate.' It was empty – they were closing the boarding doors. I ran over and was last one on the plane."
After that close call, the logistics worked out just right. Through his friend and the PGA Director of Instruction at Bellerive, Brian Fogt (also competing in the Senior PGA Championship), Coston met some PGA members who offered to host him for the week. His plane from Dallas landed at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday in St. Louis, so he was able to grab one more hour of sleep at his host house and then make it to the course in time for his 2:30 p.m. tee time.
Though the schedule and preparation might not be ideal, it didn't faze the energetic and always charismatic Coston much. Then again, it doesn't seem like much does.
As he walked off the course on Friday, an intrepid reporter asked him "How do you feel?"
Coston deadpanned, "I feel with my fingers."
Coston later explained, "I'm 57, man, I'm on the back nine of life, trying to have a little bit of fun. I just don't worry about too much, just play Jeff Coston golf."
Jeff Coston golf is apparently pretty good. His playing career includes six Senior PGA Championships (including being the low PGA Club Professional in 2007 at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island). He's played in a U.S. Open, (made the cut in 2000) and a U.S. Senior Open, played on the PGA Tour in 1985 and 1988, and is a nine-time Pacific Northwest PGA Player of the Year.
Even more, Coston is an accomplished teacher and cites his work with teaching icons Mike Adams and 2009 PGA Teacher of the Year Mike Bender as strong influencers on his teaching success. Not surprisingly, he was the 2002 Teacher of the Year in his PGA section.
"I probably spend 90 percent of time teaching, but there are a few times throughout the year when the playing schedule seems to come in waves," Coston said. And though he's been doing both a long time, he shows no interest or signs of slowing down in either.
When asked the secret of his enduring success, Coston beams.
"I've got a beautiful wife who looks like she could be my daughter though we're the same age, I have great friends and support from the people I work with, I try my best to stay fit and exercise regularly, I'm just having fun," he said. "None of us are promised tomorrow so I might as well enjoy what I'm doing."
Coston's philosophy, in golf and life, indicates the journey and the destination are both a reward. As he is now contending at the season's first senior major, it appears that's the case this week as well.
So when the week ends, will he be able to reflect back on it and smile at his amazing travel itinerary?
"The Washington Senior Open is next week," he laughed. "I'm headed to play there next."