Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rookie Year

First, I want to thank everyone for such wonderful feedback from the first post! I love reading all the comments/texts/emails/words of encouragement and it has given me hope that this will not be an enormous flop. That being said, if you want to bash, criticize, denigrate, condemn, lambaste, pour scorn on, or otherwise defile my posts, feel free! I love any kinds of feedback, and differences of opinion will make this blog all the more interesting and challenging to write!

Apparently I have developed a zealous wave of inspiration with this blog, making it very easy to come up with ideas. I already have the titles for the next 8 posts (though nothing written yet). However I warn you not to expect this level of productivity to continue. I will write when I have something interesting to write about...That being said, I guess I will devote my second post to recapping Michael's rookie year to make sure everyone is on the same page going into next year. I know many of you reading this already know it all and if so, you can do what you do in series books where the second chapter is always devoted to re-introducing the main characters...skip to the next chapter to get into the good stuff. For those of you who have no idea how my life changed from a career in Physical Therapy to a career as the manager of a professional golfer, read on...

First off, Michael earned his PGA Tour card this past year by making it through the final stage of Tour Qualifying school in December 2010. Now, most of you reading this probably have no idea what that means...and to be honest I am still a bit fuzzy on the details. All I know is that it involves lots of rounds of golf played over several months. If you finish well enough in the stage you are in, you move on to the next stage, with the ultimate prize being a PGA Tour card if you finish in the top 25 in the last stage. Well, this is exactly what Michael did (Yay!), so instead of continuing his stint on the NGA Hooters Tour, he catapulted to the tour that everyone thinks of when I tell them that my husband is a professional golfer (which makes it much easier to explain, believe me).

Instead of going through every tournament giving a play-by-play of every shot and club used (which I am sure some of you die-hards would love, but will just give me a headache), here it is in a nutshell: Michael played in 25 PGA tournaments and 2 Nationwide Tour events (the tour below the PGA tour). He had 2 Top 5's, 5 Top 15's, and 7 Top 25's (this is based on my own limited research so if I am wrong about the stats please correct me!). He made 17 cuts and missed 10 cuts (there are 4 rounds to a golf tournament and after 2 days the field of players is cut in half and the top half continue on to the weekend). Overall, he finished 98th on the Money List, with the top 125 players keeping their PGA Tour cards for next year. The general goal of this year was to keep his card for next year...Mission Accomplished.
A recap would not be complete without introducing two of the most basic Christian beliefs that got us through this year of ups and downs. The first comes from Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, " declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." The second comes from Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight." When Michael first came to me with the idea to quit my job as a Physical Therapist at Children's Hospital of Alabama, I was petrified. How could he ask me to do this when the year had barely started and we weren't sure how it would go? This was in February and Michael's year hadn't exactly gotten off to a stellar start. What if he didn't keep his card for next year? How could I leave a job I loved, working with some of the most wonderful people I had ever met, after only 5 months of work? How could we plan for and be certain about the future? I am sure many of you are faced with questions similar to these when a situation arises that you are uncertain of. Whether it is a career change, move across the country, relationship issues, whatever, you want to cover all your bases and make sure you have a back-up plan, NOT act impulsively or leap too quickly. 

Well, I am here to tell you that sometimes, that is EXACTLY what God wants you to do and that is certainly what God wanted us to do. After much prayer, asking God to show me the right answer, I finally realized that there was no answer because HE was the answer. It was not Michael I had to believe in (though of course I have never wavered in my belief that he will succeed), it was GOD that I had to believe and trust in. I needed to trust that God had a plan for us and our year, that he had plans for us to prosper and not be harmed. I needed to trust in God with all my heart and not rely on my own understanding and knowledge. Once I was able to submit my life to Him and not rely on my own insight, it was easier for me to make the decision to travel with Michael. For Michael, the decision was easy. Have your wife with you every week supporting you or only see her for a few days every 4-5 weeks? Bet that would've made for a good first year of marriage, huh? We learned early on that life out on the PGA Tour can be very lonely for those players and that is why most of the wives travel if they are able. 

For Michael, these two Christian beliefs manifested through his struggles on the golf course as well. Playing on the PGA Tour not only involves playing against the best players in the world. We also had to get used to the travel every week, staying in a hotel and flying everywhere, dealing with the media, the fans, and all the hype, trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle eating out for every meal, and for Michael the added difficulty of trying to learn new golf courses every week playing against players who know these courses like the backs of their hands. Not exactly a recipe for success for a newbie like Michael and that is why he had to trust in God so much this year. He realized about halfway through the season that he was trying too hard to play well and not just letting whatever was meant to happen...happen. Michael realized that he had forgotten about God and was trying to figure it all out himself. When Michael was able to give his life up to God and let God lead him in the direction of His plan (not Michael's, not Rachel's, not anyone else's), all the daily stress of the tour was completely taken away because Michael knew that the outcome of the tournament was already pre-determined by God and he had nothing to worry about. 

The fact is, God has already planned out every detail of your life before you were even born. He has already planned your successes and failures. He already knew how this rookie year would go for me and Michael before we even started. And the fact is, no matter how it ended up, we knew that God had our best interests at heart. Whether Michael kept his PGA card or was sent back down to the Nationwide or mini-tours, we knew that God had an ultimate plan for our good and not to harm us. One of my favorite Bible verses is Romans 5:3-4 (NIV) "Not only so, but we also REJOICE in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." When Michael shot 10 over in his first round at the Sony Open in Hawaii, when he missed 4 cuts out of 5 tournaments in a row in the middle of the season, when he had to deal with difficult playing partners or missed the cut by one stroke at the Barclays when the cut line moved up at the last minute, when he was in the lead going into Saturday in Canada and then bombed on the weekend, when he had the lead on Sunday at the McGladrey and then bogeyed the final hole to miss the leaders play-off by one stroke; though difficult situations at the time, we look back on those moments and rejoice in them because Michael will be a better player because of them. Do not be anxious about what is happening right now. Trust and believe and hope that it will work out someday.

As we look forward to next year, we hope not only for success (which will come in its own time), but we hope for more struggles, more difficulty, more opportunities for failure because these are the moments at which we must truly rely on God and his ultimate plan. We hope that we are able to keep the big picture in mind and simply praise and glorify God everyday we are out there. And we hope to inspire people everywhere we go in the belief that they are not alone in this world. We all have someone looking out for us, trying to help guide us in the right direction. You need only to give up your pride and ask for it...

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