GET TO KNOW ME
Behind the Action
I am a born and raised Pittsburgher (Go Steelers, Penguins and Pirates), actually grew up in a small Steel Mill town called McKeesport, with 5 older brothers and 1 sister. I grew up in a household where sports was a big part of our lives. I played every sport imaginable as a kid, except golf. Sports as a kid taught me many things that I have carried with me through my years. In high school, I focused on one sport primarily, baseball, but also played hockey and bowled in a junior league. Although baseball was a team sport, as a pitcher, you felt somewhat isolated and I think that helped me later when golf came into my life.
After high school, I started my collegiate career at Kent State University, but not in golf. I went there to play hockey and when I sat out that first year, it was time to make a change. After considering a few colleges, I ultimately chose Duquesne University. It is a great University in the city of Pittsburgh that offered me many opportunities; being close to family, great academics and from an athletes view, the chance to play baseball and hockey in college. I ended up playing 4 years of collegiate hockey and 2 years of baseball. An experience I treasure to this day.
After graduation from Duquesne with a degree in Criminal Justice, it was time to venture into the work force. I worked as a family counselor for juvenile offenders who were in a lock down facility. It was my job to determine when the kids could be released back home. People think golf is stressful, but having this type of decision slowly took a toll on me and the time for a change was in order. I was fortunate enough at the time to be coaching high school hockey and one of the kids I was coaching had an uncle that was a partner in a newly developed course; Hickory Heights GC. Sometime later, a job offer was made and my life in golf started. That was 1992.
I stayed in Pittsburgh and worked as an Assistant Golf Professional for two seasons, splitting time between the summer months in Pittsburgh and the winter months playing/living in Orlando, Fla. I guess it was during my second year that I felt the urge to leave the 'burgh behind and make my mark somewhere else. That place became Arizona and I have been in Arizona ever since, although Pittsburgh remains home in my heart. Once here, I ventured back into being as Assistant Golf Professional at ASU Karsten GC. This provided me opportunities to be around great collegiate players, who and let's kid ourselves, had way more playing experience playing than I did. I used that experience to venture to South America later in 1994 to play the Tour de Las Americas. this proved to be, not only a great learning experience, but provided the motivation to me to pursue playing golf for a living. Over the next several years, I played a lot and had set backs along the way. Lack of funding, injuries and a loss of desire.
The loss of desire to continue playing professional golf stems from two devastating losses in my life. Losing my sister to a brain aneurysm and a few years later losing my father to his battle with pancreatic cancer. Although I confess to being a mama's boy, my connection with my father was all about sports and a bond that was truly special and unique. There is not a day that goes by when I am on the golf course thatI don't think about him or wonder what he is thinking about me chasing my dream. A dream I truly felt was his at a younger time in his life.
My turning point to continue playing professional golf came from an unlikely source, former Chicago Cub and Arizona Diamondback, Mark Grace. Mark and I had met years earlier and when we re-connected, he offered me the opportunity to play and not worry about anything but golf. During this period, my game progressed, advancing through 1st stage of PGA Tour qualifying twice, but never through 2nd stage. This is when I made the decision that I was going to play, through good times and bad, until I did what I set out to do years ago. Make it to the PGA Tour.
I would be remiss at this point not to thank those closest to me for their support and guidance over the years. My mom, who is undoubtedly is my biggest fan. My brothers Dana, Terry, Floyd and LaMarr for their love. My best friend Bill for always knowing what to say at the right time. Bruce Lange, GM of The Westin Kierland Resort and Spa for without him, I would have no place to practice. The staff at The Westin Kierland Resort and Spa who always seem to know what I need. My teacher, Mike LaBauve for instilling confidence in me to trust change. The companies that provide me with equipment; Adams and Titleist. Last, but not least, I'd like to thank my beautiful wife Shelley, who has given me a new, added strength to pursue and achieve my ultimate dreams of the PGA Tour. You are my inspiration and my love.
This is my time, my ride. Join me for my journey...