Playing in the PGA

Photo credit: Matt Hahn, PGA of America — Casey Pyne

If you play or follow golf, you know there are four major tournaments featuring the most well-known players like Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, and Rory McIlroy. 

This year, that playing field will also include my son.

Casey Pyne, will be playing in the PGA Championship in Tulsa, May 19-22.

He sealed the opportunity on April 20 when he finished in the Top 20 at the PGA Professional Championship in Austin, Texas.

More than 300 PGA club professionals had to qualify to play in this tournament to secure one of the 20 spots reserved for them in the PGA Championship. Casey is an assistant pro at Stanwich Country Club in Greenwich, Connecticut.

It’s surreal to see your son on national television for the first time and even more odd to listen to the announcers compare his mustache to that of Ted Lasso. 

Unfortunately, no one from our family was able to be in Austin but we were glued to the Golf Channel from Sunday through Wednesday as we watched Casey bounce around the Top 5 in the tournament. At the end of the third day of play, he was sitting alone in second place, just five strokes behind the leader. 

Every day of the tournament, his dad, sister, brother-in-law, girlfriend (and her visiting Brazilian family), and I donned our Stanwich Club shirts, sweatshirts, hats and even carried Stanwich-branded ChapSticks as we watched in anticipation.

The final day brought heavy winds to the Austin area and almost all the golfers struggled to keep their scores low. Add some final-day nerves to that wind as Casey battled his way on the 18th hole to remain in the team of 20 to play the Pro Championship.  

I was watching the tournament at my daughter and son-in-law’s home with my sweatshirt pulled up just below my eyes. I didn’t want to watch but I had to. The anticipation was excruciating. His dad was still at work with the Golf Channel on the showroom TV and several employees and customers watching. One of his co-workers told him he thought he was “making it up” that his son was a professional golfer--that is until he saw him on TV. 

When Casey made that final putt everyone cheered in excitement for the guy from Bloomington who never belonged to a country club, who shot 117 in his freshman year high school golf team tryouts, who spent his high school and college summers working at a golf course so he could practice and play for free, who ate peanut butter sandwiches and spent a few nights in his car while playing the Dakotas mini-tours; who lived with his cousin in Florida so he could play tournaments during the day and deliver pizzas at night. Casey had never traveled abroad and decided to fly solo to Thailand and Malaysia in an attempt to qualify for the Asian Tour (he earned conditional status!) and currently lives modestly in the dorm housing of the Stanwich Club--all for the desire to fulfill his dream. 

How many of us get to see our dreams turn into reality? How many of us are willing to work this hard and make this many sacrifices to achieve our dreams? 

For our son, his dream was to play on the PGA Tour. This month, he’ll get to do that.

Katy O’Grady-Pyne is the general manager/publisher of the Clinton Journal. 

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