SEATTLE, Wash. -- Twenty-one years ago, Seattle native Jeff Coston made what he said was one of the toughest and best decisions of his life.
He gave up his career as a touring professional and settled down in Blaine, becoming not only one of the best golf teachers in the state but one of the greatest playing PGA Club Professionals in state history.
Now, at 59, he is back on tour, having earned his Champions Tour card at qualifying school last year, and he is looking forward to playing in front of family and friends this week in the Boeing Classic at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, with the first of three rounds Friday.
The only thing he would change about this year: his scores.
"It hasn't been what I hoped for by any stretch of the imagination," said Coston, who is 81st on the money list and whose best finish this season was a tie for 20th at the Greater Gwinnett Championship. "But tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life."
It's the kind of upbeat attitude that typifies Coston, who says how grateful he is that he was able to pursue both of his passions: teaching and playing.
But after graduating from Seattle University (he finished high school in Sacramento, Calif., after starting at Inglemoor in Kenmore), he wasn't thinking about teaching. He played full time on the PGA Tour in 1985 and 1988, with his best finish being a tie for seventh. In 1991, he won an event on what is now called the Web.com Tour.
It was not an easy life. There were years when the family traveled from tournament to tournament in a trailer, and his kids were home-schooled. Once, during a mini-tour event, he swam through a Florida pond that had alligators and water moccasins to get to an island where his ball had landed.
Then, in 1994 he decided to settle down in Blaine, where he opened a golf academy at Semiahmoo Golf & Country Club. He has never left.
"It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but one of the best things," Coston said. "I was walking away to raise my family, and I have a great family. I have a great marriage (of more than 38 years), and I consider that my greatest accomplishment."
Even while playing full time on the Champions Tour, he has continued teaching in Blaine during his off weeks, including the past week.
"I've been fortunate to have the best of both worlds," Coston said. "Golf has been my passion. It's who I am."
Coston has won a record 19 Northwest major titles for club and teaching professionals and has been named Pacific Northwest PGA Sectoin Player of the Year 20 times.
In 2013, he finished 11th at Champions Tour qualifying school and earned conditional status for 2014, playing in some events. In November at qualifying school, he made birdies on the final two holes to card a final-round 66, equaling the field's lowest round, and it propelled him into a tie for third overall. That gave Coston full status for this year.
It was the type of strong finish Coston is known for, but he has uncharacteristically struggled in the final round of events this year, with his best final-round score being a 72.
"I have not had Jeff Coston finishes," he said.
Coston said it has nothing to do with being 59, and not closer to 50 like many of the top players on the Champions Tour.
"I may be 59, but from the neck down I am in my 30s," he said. "Other players don't think I am 59. They think I am 52."
The Champions Tour's priority list to get into tournaments gets reshuffled after the Boeing Classic, and Coston will need a good finish to ensure spots in the final events of the year.
"I'll just have to wait and see how it pans out," he said. "I just feel fortunate to have played my whole life. I don't know much, but I know golf."
This article was written by Scott Hanson from Seattle Times and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
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