About Me

My name is Mike Gray and this is my story. I’m on a quest to become a golf pro some day.

When I was in college I worked on a golf course for several years and it was then that I became hooked on the great game of golf. I played every chance I got. Now, I’m 36 years old, out of college, and work as a software engineer. I like my job. It’s interesting, but it doesn’t captivate me like golf does. I think it. I read it. I watch it. I play it. I live it.

Everyone who follows a sport has either an inner or outward desire to play that sport professionally. Golf is one of the very few sports where a person can make money as a professional for a long time, without necessarily having to reach the highest levels of competition to do so.

One day, I came to the realization that at some point I’ve executed every shot in the book. High fades, low draws, dead straight, flop shots, running chips, long putts, short putts, 320+ yard drives, delicate pitches. My handicap was approaching the single digits. So, why am I not on tour? For starters, I had a series of nagging injuries that kept me from playing and practicing for long stretches. And second, I wasn’t putting the work in. I mean real work. Not just showing up and playing a round, or going to the range and beating a basket of balls. It also doesn’t help that I didn’t seriously take up the game until I was 18 or so.

Well, I’ve come to the realization that I want to make golf my life. I don’t care how long it takes. I’m willing to put the work in. I don’t care if it doesn’t happen until I retire from my career as a software engineer. In the meantime, I’m just going to keep learning and developing my game.

How far I go is something I’ll figure out as time goes on. Maybe I’ll get into a club pro or teaching job and like it so much that I’ll stay there and be happy. But for now, I crave competition. I want to play competitively. That doesn’t necessarily mean the PGA Tour. But I’m going to climb as high as ability and determination will allow.

So what’s the plan? The plan is for me to do the things in my life to make this happen. That means health of mind and body, lots of practice, lessons, more practice, lots of play, and some more practice. I’m single with no kids so I just need to balance this goal with my current career. My pathetic social life won’t even notice the difference. I need to drop a significant amount of weight so diet and exercise are critical.

My friend Frank turned me on to the idea of putting a website/blog together. The purpose is two-fold: I figure if I have people watching me, there’s accountability. That’ll help me stay on track, even though there aren’t any real consequences other than me being perceived as a huge failure. Second, I want to share what I learn with others. Maybe I can share nuggets of wisdom that come my way to help others with their own golf quest.

My plan is to keep track of my progress, but also to provide information that might be of general interest for people who couldn’t care less about me. That includes things like book reviews, equipment reviews, course reviews. I’m not a pro yet, but I’d like to share some of my favorite tips and drills. There are tons of great golf blogs out there that cover current events in golf and I have no desire to do that. But I might engage in some technical analysis or other discussion about current players when I feel it suits what I’m trying to accomplish. I’m going to be sharing my story, but I hope to share a lot more useful information.

While I’m going to be doing most of the talking, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear from you too. I’d love to hear feedback from everyone about my quest. Feel free to leave comments on my posts or shoot me an e-mail. Some time in the near future, I’m planning on setting up a forum as well, so we can really chat it up.

Hang around, grab a spot in the next range stall and let’s get to work.

  1. Enjoying your blog! I picked up the game 2 years ago at 46 years old and also work as a software engineer. Good career, but it’s not golf! Best of luck to you!!

  2. Double Eagle says:

    Thanks, Artful Golfer!

  3. c.a. Marks says:

    Hey there. I just now found your blog and have added you to my Google reader. I am most interested in your progress seeing as how my fiance is a golf pro. Good luck and I’ll be reading.

  4. Double Eagle says:

    Thanks, c.a. I hope you continue to enjoy it.

  5. Paul says:

    Mike, you should read, ‘Bring me the head of Sergio Garcia,(my year of swinging dangerously on the pro golf tour) by Tom Cox….although it might put you off, of wanting to become a golf pro!

  6. Double Eagle says:

    I’ll put that one on my list, Paul.

    At this point, the only thing that will put me off is me. I might find that I’m happy being a teacher or golf coach some day and never even try (or even get good enough to try) being a tour pro, and that’s OK.

  7. Scott says:

    Hey man,
    I really like your site. We actually have a lot in common. I just graduated college at VT and played on the club team while there. I also got hooked on the game in college and I would play everyday in any weather. I work as an engineer as well (mechanical engineer). I have pretty much the same goal as you. My ultimate goal is to make the PGA tour. In fact, I have a bet with my brother for $1,000 that I will have played in a PGA tour event by age 33. It’s a good way to motivate me lol! I would like to learn more about how you are going about pursuing this goal. The way I have been doing it is taking lots of lessons, which has helped a lot. I practice everyday and play each weekend. I workout 3-6 times a week. And I play in a lot of amatuer events where I live in VA. Do you play in a lot of amateur events? I’d like to play more but it gets expensive. I think I played in about 10 or so last summer, the biggest one being the VA state public links.

  8. Double Eagle says:

    Scott, glad you like the site. Thanks for coming by.

    As far as what I’m doing, it’s pretty much all here. Check out the links along the top and side and you can see the practice and workout plans I’ve used. I really need to update that stuff because my winter routine is much different, and in the spring, I expect to make big changes.

    I also do periodic updates on my progress (the ‘My Progress’ category has all those). I try to put out a lot of information about what I try that does and does not work for me.

    I haven’t played in many events because as I was learning the game, I was more of a solitary player. Since I started this last year, I’ve been working on developing my game and kind of neglected that competitive aspect. However, that’s very important and I’ll be playing more events in 2008. I still need to develop my game (and my body) a lot further to be able to compete in the bigger national amateur events.

    As far was what you’re doing, you have a great leg-up already with playing and practicing so much, and working out regularly. You’re at an advantage with age, too. At 33, I’m on the far side of the mountain. But you’re on your way up. Keep practicing and playing and find a coach/teacher that suits your style.

    At this point, the chance of me playing a PGA Tour event is very, very small, but becoming a teaching pro would be a very welcome career change for me and it’s something that I feel I can accomplish. For you, however, the Tour can be a reality with a lot of hard work and some lucky breaks.

    It’s an expensive game, but try and find a less expensive place to play and practice and really develop your game.

    I hope I can provide experience and information here that will help you along the way.

    Best of luck!

  9. Fantastic! This is great, I am cheering you on all the way. Thanks for stopping by the OddBlast site, there are others out there with the same dreams and aspirations! Best Wishes! Keep in touch!

  10. Double Eagle says:

    Thanks, Cameron!

    Same to you and I’ll be rooting for you the whole way!

  11. Daniel says:

    Hi Mike, I am 30 and also training to become pro.
    i train between 5-10 hours daily. usually around 7.
    we could share tips and tricks

  12. Double Eagle says:

    That’s awesome, Daniel. It’s great that you’re able to train for so many hours. Best of luck to you!

  13. Jack Clarke says:

    Hi just found your blog and wish you the best of success!

    Do you plan on playing the minor circuits first and is Q school a viable option? Anyway, well put together blog and again, good luck!

  14. Double Eagle says:

    Thanks, Jack!

    Right now, I still have a lot of work to do to get my game and body in shape. I’d be quite happy if I could play the mini-tours, but it’s not my only measure of success. I’d be very happy if I could be a teaching pro, too. Given my age, Q-School is probably not realistic, but you never know. I’m not going to quit until I find out, but it’s slow going.

  15. Scott Jessee says:

    Mike,
    Excellent website, great info. Glad you are working on your dream. Not enough people actually try to get there…they just have a dream and talk about it. It’s kinda like having a great idea and then never following through. Go for it man…..good luck.

    Scott

  16. Double Eagle says:

    Thanks, Scott!

  17. Chet says:

    Hi Mike,

    I hate to rain on your parade, but I wish someone had talked to me about what a pipedream the golf business is when I was in it 10 years ago. I have played, practiced, managed courses, given lessons, passed my PAT and had to change jobs enought that I almost had a nervous breakdown. I now teach high school to special needs students who are at risk. I have a great retirement, summers and christmas off, plus other holidays and I still teach golf. Find a way to do what you love, but do not do it as a career. If you are really good, and lucky you might be able to make it, but there is a reason why every asst pro is about 25 years old and has the dream.

    Mike how many public head pros are at a location for 5 years, not many that I know of. Another thing you might want to think about is how many private HP jobs are there in your city that will provide job security, and financial security if you get a family. In my city there are about 4, and those guys work hard, real hard.

    Good Luck
    CP

  18. Double Eagle says:

    Thanks for the warning, Chet. It’s good for me to have realistic expectations and to hear stories from people who didn’t have the level of success they would have liked.

    The good thing about my situation is that I have a fall back plan. If I can’t quite make things work the way I want, I can resume the career that I’m in now with no regrets.

    I have another advantage over young pros just starting out in that I don’t have to put myself in any situation that might be unfavorable. I have nothing but time and can afford to hunt down and/or wait out the right opportunities.

  19. Derek says:

    Hi Mike,

    Glad I found your website, I love to hear about and see people follow through on their dreams. Regardless of the outcome you will be better for taking the trip.

    Good luck, I’ll be following along and cheering for you!

    Derek

  20. Yardage Pro says:

    Hey DE –

    Always have a fallback plan, but dangit – go for it. Never stop trying.

    My brother could have played on the tour – I am sure of it – he’s (still) that good. But now years have crept up and at 50 – he’s kicking around senior Q. Still – if he’d only had the motivation when he was younger!

    Have a back up plan and a good job. Outside of that – follow your dreams.

    Nice site – thanks for keeping it up.

  21. Paladin says:

    Mike,

    You should not consider age an impediment. Remember that Calvin Peete didn’t even start golf until he was 24, and Larry Nelson didn’t start until he returned home from Vietnam.

    As for teaching, I have to echo the sentiments of the other poster who addressed it. Far be it from me to discourage you if that is your dream, but, as someone who taught for many years (a different sport, but one in the same category), I can confirm what the other fellow said: teaching pros work VERY hard. Generally speaking, it’s not a job with many benefits; you earn more by teaching more hours and have to pay for most everything yourself. And most pros get burned out on the game to a point where it ceases to be fun. So, I could be wrong, but I think you’ll find competition more to your liking.

  22. Double Eagle says:

    I don’t doubt it, Paladin. I’ve heard that same kind of thing from a number of people. Right now, I’m enjoying the process of working on my game and it’s going to take a while, so I’m a long way off from having to make that decision. Some day, the time will come and I’ll think long and hard, and will definitely take all the great advice I’ve gotten into consideration. Personality-wise, I would probably find competition more to my liking. If I ever get to the point where I feel I can compete at a high level, then I believe that’s what I would choose. If I can’t get to that point, then I’ll need to make some decisions.

  23. tommyd says:

    to borrow a quote from Confucius, “If you enjoy what you do you will never work a day for the rest of your life.” Best of luck to you

  24. twadlund says:

    Mike, really cool man. I came across your blog a few weeks ago. I am a huge golf fan and also share the desire to become a pro. I have gone through and looked backed at a lot of the previous articles and have gotten a little out of everything I’ve read. I think its great that you are able to log all of your ups and downs on this blog, along with all of the help from your followers. Pretty cool stuff. I like that this blog is more about your story with tips along the way and not just a bunch of current golf news. I look forward to all the good stories and tips to come!

  25. Paul says:

    Hey, Mike. I’m a huge fan of both golf and blogging but just found your site today. Still, I’ve decided to make it a favorite and visit often.

    I wish you luck on your plan to make a living off of golf. If I were anywhere near as accomplished as you are, I would shoot for the same thing.

    Anyway, I’m just an average, double digit handycap guy with dreams of getting it into single digits some day. Not because I want to go pro, but because it would be fun to beat the tar out of my buddies on the golf course. Plus, everyone naturally wants to get better.

    Anyway, I’ve decided to live vicariously through you, so you better succeed. : )

  26. Double Eagle says:

    Thanks, Paul. I’ll do my best. I’m playing much better lately and hope to do good things by the end of the season and beyond.

  27. bob says:

    first off.. if you are “approaching single digit handicaps”, then you have no chance of passing your PAT.
    second… there is more to the business than playing, real golf professionals don’t play very much golf at all because the job requires long hours during the day when you would normally play.

    i hope you can make it.
    good luck

  28. Double Eagle says:

    Bob, obviously I don’t have a chance to pass the PAT if I’m still a double-digit handicap. But kind of the point of this whole massive effort is to improve my game to the point where I can pass the PAT.

    I’m also well aware of the life of a golf pro. I believe teaching others the game will be more rewarding than sitting in a cubicle all day, though I certainly could be wrong. I would be trading one form of not being able to play during the day for another.

  29. M. Rice says:

    Mike,

    Love the blog and more importantly love the dream! It’s people like you that help inspire others to go for there dreams as well. I have recently decided to go for my own little quest, and golf the Top 100 Courses in America, all in 2010! I have started my own little blog and am on a search to meet people like yourself who can motivate and inspire. I look forward to reading more about you. Livin’ the dream!

  30. John says:

    Hey Mike, great to find some one who loves golf so much. I wish you luck on your journey to becoming a golf pro.

  31. Ken says:

    Hi Mike just wanted to say i really like your blog been looking through the archives for some inspiration :) Hope your golfing going good this year.Il be keeping an eye on your progress . Cheers Ken

  32. Colin says:

    Hay buddy

    Im from across the pond. Im 22. dropped from 19 to 6 in one season. Got SUPER hooked on the game, and though i could make it on tour or earn a living doing what i love. . . . Unfortnately i burned myself out and lost the love. Starting to get it back now, but im of travelling the world at the end of the year for 2 years….How have you felt the effects of such dedication, not financialy

  33. Double Eagle says:

    Ken, thanks, glad you came by.

    Colin, I haven’t really had aspirations to play on tour so I haven’t had to be dedicated to that level. Since it’s a long process, I haven’t let myself get too burned out. There have been a few times where I thought I was getting close (especially when not playing well), but I try to make sure that I’m not going to send myself over the edge. To me, failing at this wouldn’t be the biggest tragedy. The biggest tragedy would be if I ruined my love for the game. With that in mind, I allow myself to step back when I feel that I need to.

  34. Leonardo says:

    Hey Mike,

    Best of luck on your quest! I know it can be challenging at times, but stick with it. I love the personal touch you add to your blog. Best wishes, Leonardo.

  35. D. Noble says:

    Killing time because it’s just too hot to do anything outside and I came across your website. Think I am going to love it. I’m 54 and working towards my third career as a ….golf instructor. Working for a PGA pro as he builds his dream of a teaching academy with indoor hitting bays, electronics and all the other bells and whistles. I look forward to watching you live a passion that I have always had but have never been able to balance all the pieces to make it work. Good luck.

  36. Double Eagle says:

    Thanks D. Noble! Glad you found your way here and I wish you best of luck too in working toward your own goals.

  37. Golfstinks says:

    Thanks for the link-love Mike! We have added your site to our blog (http://golfstinks.blogspot.com) too!

  38. Grace says:

    Hello Mike!

    My fiance is also pursuing the same dream as yours. Even though I try to be supportive for him as much as possible, being an average woman who wants security and stability in life, I couldn’t help feeling skeptical and uneasy from time to time about the whole idea of him abandoning his present career altogether for something that may or may not happen. But voila, I came across your blog and I must say your enthusiasm and spirit very much inspired me. I’m sure when I tell him your story he will be so too.

    Please keep us posted with your progress! and I sincerely hope you make your dream come true some day.

    Cheers
    Grace

  39. Double Eagle says:

    Thanks, Grace! Glad you came by. Best of luck to you and your fiancé.

  40. Mike says:

    Mike:

    For a couple of weeks now, I have benn working on hitting down at the ball and taking the divot after I hit the ball. One method that seemed to work the best was making sure that I pronated with the forward wrist. That allowed me to hit the ball and take a divot in front of it. Also, I am going to work extensively on holding the finish as long as I can. Thank you for your help.

    Mike

  41. Double Eagle says:

    Hi Mike,

    Good luck with those fixes! Bowing the forward wrist a little will certainly help to keep your hands ahead of the ball and make a nice descending strike. Keeping your chest turning through the shot will also help if you’ve been kind of quitting at impact. That can cause the clubhead to pass your hands which isn’t good.

    Holding your finish is another great thing to work on. It really requires you to be in balance which is obviously a good thing in the golf swing. It will start to force you into a good tempo after a while if you’re not there already.

  42. Mike says:

    Mike:

    Actually,I meant I was going to work on holding
    the L as long as I could. Thanks.

    Mike

  43. Double Eagle says:

    Hi Mike,

    Do you mean the L-shape in the trailing wrist? I know that’s one of the things the Stack and Tilt guys recommend for consistent contact. If I recall correctly, that’s one of the fundamentals that Homer Kelley put forth in The Golfing Machine (I vaguely remember writing about it at some point – you’d think I could use my own search feature to refresh my memory ;) ).

    Mike

  44. Dave B says:

    Hey Mike,

    I really enjoyed your “Beach Week” series for Sand Play Tips. It is finally gone, the snow in central Indiana is now melted off. I plan on heading out this weekend to practice my sand play and use some of the tips you mentioned. It is also time to revist my library of Pelz stuff on the issue.

    On another topic, have you hit the Tour Striker? Forgive me for not checking your site prior to the question. We were talking about it at lunch today. What are your thoughts?

    Thanks much, DB

    • Mike Gray says:

      Hi Dave,

      I’m glad you enjoyed Beach Week, and best of luck working on your sand play. You’ll definitely do well to review the stuff from your Pelz library too. My preferred techniques come from him so it’s definitely good to consult the source for the complete picture.

      Regarding the Tour Striker, I’ve never seen one in person, but I’ve watched the infomercial with Gary McCord a handful of times. Since I’ve never tried it, I can’t vouch for its effectiveness, however, the principle does seem to be sound. You’d never be able to hit a solid shot with it without learning to come into impact with your hands ahead of the club head. Getting the shaft leaning forward coming into impact is a key to good ball striking.

      Of course, it’s just like anything else in golf: depending on what’s going wrong, the Tour Striker may or may not help to fix it. At least not without understanding the problem. For instance, they talk about helping people to stop from “scooping” and trying to help the ball in the air. That’s fine, but what about a player whose weight hangs back to the right and he doesn’t hit down on the ball because he’s not transferring his weight to the left? I’m not sure whether the Tour Striker would help with that. Or, maybe it would kind of subconsciously get a person to stop doing that. I don’t know.

      A lot of training aids have a solid basis in promoting some good fundamental(s). In this case, there are cheaper ways to learn to get the shaft leaning a little toward the target at impact, though. Sounds like I should write a post on the matter ;)

      • Dave says:

        I agree regarding the training aids, there are many with a solid basis in providing fundamentals. I have not hit or seen a Tour Striker either. I have read the reviews and watched the infomerical with Gary McCord as well.

        How do you work on the forward shaft lean at impact? I have changed my address over the winter to a neutral position which feels natural. I had a fairly pronouced forward lean (forward press) at address, compliments of a friend who is scratch. I was striking the ball very well for a good part of last year until the end of summer, when my game became very inconsistent off the tee and fairway with longer clubs.

        Do you have any drills or ideas on the forward shaft lean at impact? Thanks

        DB

        • Mike Gray says:

          Dave,

          Surprisingly, a big component of having that forward shaft lean at impact has to do with a proper weight shift. Hanging too much on the right side or falling to the right during the swing can cause an improper release.

          It can be helpful to just take slow speed practice swings where you feel your weight moving to your right instep on the backswing and then shifting onto the left leg on the downswing. Pay attention to the lag of the club coming into impact. You’ll want to feel like you’re bringing the grip through the impact area before the ball. Let yourself feel the shift and the club handle being ahead of the club head slowly a few times and then try to increase the swing speed, making sure that the weight transfer is good. Make sure you keep turning through impact and don’t let yourself hang to the right.

          Click here for a more in-depth discussion on Shawn Clement’s website, complete with videos and other suggested drills.

  45. Jeff S says:

    Good luck! Another great book is Paper Tiger by Tom Coyne. It’s about a writer who decides he is going to take one year to really improve his golf game.

  46. Frank says:

    I stumbled on your blog and really enjoy it. Best of luck on the move to Fort Worth. I made the move from New York 28 years ago and have never regretted it. I also write a blog but it’s basically about a foursome that I play in that has been playing for years. It’s called golfinginmysleep.blogspot.com. Where do you play in Fort Worth?

    Frank

    • Mike Gray says:

      I actually haven’t played anywhere yet. Since I’ve been here, my swing has fallen apart. I’ve begun lessons with a pro here and will probably start playing again in a couple of weeks, when I’ve had time to get back on track.

  47. Rick Wilton says:

    Enjoying your blog Mike, especially the book reviews, a couple of great golf books I have read are The Morris Men by Stephen Mitchell and The English Golf Coast by Phil Dowell.

    Rick.

  48. John says:

    Really liked your book review of ‘Golf’s Sacred Journey’ and wish you well on yours. You might enjoy our website. All the best with your quest
    John

  49. B.Aima says:

    Hi,
    Whatever anybody will say ,buddy go ahead and live your dream.
    I held the golf club first time in my hand on 1st jan .2004 and I was 40 years old.Guess wha,t today I drive in the range of 300yds and play near scratch.Have watched canadian open and barclays play off and come to realize that it is no rocket science but sheer control of your mind.That is what pro golf is all about.
    I will suggest, if only you put the factor of “FEEL” in your game you will go places.
    B.Aima

  50. I am the Executive Producer of a film called From the Rough, which is about the true story of an African American college golf coach, Dr. Catana Starks of Tennessee State University, who started and built a strong team from predominantly international, non-African American golfers at a historically black college and university. The theme of our film is aligned with what you are trying to accomplish in the narrower field of golf. We are trying to show that, in golf as in life, the ability to master the recovery from difficult situations is the key to success. Golf, like life, has a strong emotional and mental component, even as it draws upon and demands many technical skills. Your web site is inspirational to me, because you are not trying to turn everyone into a world champion or the highest level competitive golfer. You are trying to make everyone better and to get them to stick with golf for the right reasons. Pursuing a dream, even in a hobby, as opposed to a job, is a worthy and energizing way to live one’s life.

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