This March, The PGA of America will host the inaugural National Club Championship. A few competitors in the field at the championship are the perfect example of making a comeback to the game as they won their club championship during 2020 after quitting the game for a period of time. Once a competitor, always a competitor.
Life gets in the way of golf, especially for Ryan Beardmore who spent more time at a golf course than most people as a PGA Professional.
“I met my future wife and over time decided I wanted more free time and decided to switch careers,” Beardmore said. “Getting married, starting a family and new career shifted my path and took up a lot of time. Time I didn't have to spend on the golf course. I know myself and I knew if I didn't play golf I'd be OK...but if I did play I'd want to play a lot. So I essentially didn't play for almost 20 years.”
After Ryan’s children got older, his family decided to join a local club where he and the family were able to get out on the golf course more frequently.
“As I started playing again I set a goal in my mind that I'd play in the club championship in 2020 with the ultimate goal to win,” Beardmore added. “No sense playing if that's not the goal right?! That was essentially my main focus and with a few breaks, I was able to win. 20 years off the course and winning in 2020, coincidence?
Shawna Walz had a similar situation where golf was the casualty of a busy schedule and start of a family. A former collegiate Individual Champion in the Big Sky conference, golf was a major part of her early life. With work demands increasing and working towards an MBA, golf took a backseat for more than 20 years.
“In 2020, the kids were finally able to tag along and play with me,” Walz said. “I told my family that my goal was to win the Club Championship. Of course, it seemed like a bit of a stretch goal given that I hadn’t competed in over 20 years.”
Shawna took to the practice facilities at Crane Creek CC and put an emphasis on the putting green knowing that would be a key to get back to her old form.
“Out of all the tournaments I have won, the 2020 Club Championship is one of the most meaningful for me,” said Walz. “I had been away from the game for so long and I found the idea of competing and winning to be very motivating; More importantly, winning meant a lot to me because I wanted my two sons to see their mom set and reach an ambitious goal.”
Jenni Buckley grew up around golf and more specifically the PGA Tour as her father, Jerry Pate traveled weekly to different events.
“Golf was fun but I never believed I was any good at the game because my dad, brother, Wesley Pate and Bubba Watson were the star golfers in Pensacola, Florida,” Buckley said. “I played in a couple Pensacola Junior Golf Tournaments around 1990 and 1991 and usually finished in the top 3 every week. I won the junior female club championship at Tiger Point Country Club I think in 1991.”
Her high school didn’t have a women’s golf team so she played soccer, basketball and ran track and cross country.
“We were State Champions in both CC and Track so I never wanted to go backwards and start golf over,” Buckley said. “I was always around the game of golf but I didn’t want to play if I could not play at my brother or dad’s level. To this day I regret not playing golf in high school and college.”
Being back around the game in 2018 and caddying at various tournaments for her Dad, Jenni was hooked.
“I worked really hard and played in 2019 getting my handicap below 10. I joined the Pensacola Country Club September 2019 played in my first Club Championship and surprisingly I won,” Buckley continued. “After our Club Championship being delayed from September to November I won my 2nd Club Championship in 2020.”
These Club Champions found a way back to the game they love even after an extended layoff showing that it is never too late to get back into golf. If you are someone who played golf years ago and are thinking about getting back into the game, don’t worry, golf forgives you and would love to have you back even if winning a club championship is not your ultimate goal.
PGA of America
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