Like all successful elite athletes who sacrifice lifestyle, relationships, getting injured, loneliness, being away from family and friends there is a big price to pay!
This weeks article is dedicated to Pro Tour Golf College’s Rance de Grussa who has endured all of the above and more and has finally earned his official Australasian Tour card and is at the starting line in professional golf with the chance to “live his dream.”
But let me wind back the clock twelve years ago when Rance and his brother Tim were just starting out. They were junior members at the West Australian Golf Club and later would join Mt Lawley G.C. and their Mum had booked them for golf lessons with me.
They were different in their personalities but both showed a strong ability to play the game. Tim went on to win the West Australian Junior Championship and soon after decided that he was going to university and golf would slide down the priority scale in his life.
Rance on the other hand was infatuated with the game and after making and then representing the West Australian Junior State Team at the National Championships he decided that golf was going to be his life's pursuit.
For two years and countless medical expert opinions, expensive medical bills and very little golf a frustrated and desperate Rance made an appointment with me to decide what options were left open to him.
Although an extremely fit young man from a cardio point of view he had below average awareness and control of his core muscles especially during the downswing causing him to “crunch” his hips under him and toward the ball.
This I believed was the main reason he was injuring himself during multiple round tournaments.
With the help of the late physio-therapist Ramsay McMaster a program was designed to improve Rance's strength and awareness of his deep core muscles, combined with an improved lower body technique to put Rance on the road to recovery.
Within three months he competed in the 36 hole Cottesloe Open and shot two rounds of 70 to finish in the top ten in a field that included some of the best professionals in Australia. Rance continued to keep himself injury free and earned selection in the under 23 year old WA State Team for the National Championship.
Unfortunately shortly after playing in the New South Wales Amateur Championship, the week before the Australian Amateur he physically broke down again. Being on the road and away from home he could not get to the gym to maintain his physical program.
A tough lesson for him to learn.
Once fully recovered Rance decided that he had enough of amateur golf and was going to turn professional. He had saved some money, sold his car and with help from his parents he decided he was going to roll the dice and play the mini tours in the USA.
Staying with his good friend Michael Sim (PGA Tour player) in Scottsdale Arizona he entered to compete on the Gateway Tour where his entry fee was US $1,100.00 per tournament.
With purses of US $60,000 to US $100,000 depending on how many register to play each event it is a very expensive way to find out whether you can cut it as a professional golfer.
First he had to get a car to get to the tournaments, so off he goes to the 2nd hand car auctions and buys one for a
good price, or so he thought. Unfortunately once he left the yard he could not engage the reverse gear. Taking it back he found out there was a no return policy so he negotiated to sell it back to them at a loss of US $1,000!!
A couple of days later he bought another car and this one had reverse gear thrown in! So off he goes to the tournament and coming home on the highway after shooting 74 smoke starts to invade the car followed by flames.
Quickly parking the car he jumps out in his golf gear (pink jumper, white trousers, belt and golf shoes) grabs his lunch box and Titleist bag and clubs and watches his second car in a week go up in flames.
A fire engine arrives and puts the fire out followed by tow truck that takes Rance and his car back home.
Now for the average person this would signal the end of his trip, but not Rance. With more help from his parents and friends he stays and competes until the money runs out.
On his return to his hometown of Perth (and to his credit) he goes to work for his dad (to pay as much of the money he owes him back), plus he works part time in a drive through liquor store, and also does his personal training to get himself out of debt. Three jobs!
After three months he is on the brink of giving up on his dream of playing on a professional golf tour as he sees his friends with good jobs and driving nice cars. But he is not done, he stops his personal training so that he can start training at Pro Tour Golf College once again three days a week.
This gets him eight tournaments to play in South East Asia.
He plays his first tournament in Malaysia and makes the cut and his 1st pay cheque as a professional, he’s on his way!
Then he makes his way to Indonesia and the day before the tournament starts he is struck down with food poisoning and withdraws.
Back home it’s back to the two jobs and training as he gets ready for the next tournament. People that he knows inquire why he is still trying to play professionally when the signs show he is not going to make it. This makes him even more determine to succeed.
Rance arrives in the Philippines for two Asian Development Tour events and promptly gets sick again and has to be hospitalized for a couple of days which rules him out of the tournaments. So back to Perth and another low point in his
life and his golf career
After speaking with co-director Lawrie Montague and myself we advised him to stick with his plan and the goals we had put in place as he was showing signs in training that his skills on the golf course were at the level of a tour player but some of his self management skills were not at the same level, which was holding him back.
It was in this period that Lawrie and I saw a transformation of Rance de Grussa with clear objectives and goals and that was to gain his tour card at the end of the year.
All this focus and single mindedness did not go unrecognised. A sponsor approached Rance to give him the opportunity to train and play full time for 18 months with all expenses taken care of.
The result is Rance got through the 1st stage of the Australasian tour school and after a solid start at final stage got caught in 50kph winds on the 2nd day and scraped through the half way 36 hole cut.
Two rounds of 71 to finish off, and a tie for 37th gained him his Tour Card. What an amazing and inspiring journey for him just to get to the “starting line” and begin his next chapter as a tour professional.
Throughout the journey Rance (to his credit) has always taken complete responsibility for his actions, and has never blamed anybody or anything for the hardship he endured in pursuing his dream of playing on a professional golf tour.
I know he acknowledges his parents, his close friends, his sponsor and Pro Tour Golf College for this chance of “living his dream” of being a professional tournament golfer.
What a ride it’s been so far, and I'm sure there’s plenty more to come.
David Milne and Lawrie Montague - Pro Tour Golf College
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