Zokol's remarks — and book launch in Calgary

Always interesting when a former PGA Tour winner comments on the blog, as Richard Zokol did yesterday in my post about Alan McLean and his struggles at Q-School. Though I must admit to being a bit skeptical of Richard when I first wrote about him, I’ve come to get to know him and regard him as a sincere individual who is passionate about his golf. He’s currently working on developing his dream course — called Sagebrush — which many felt would never get off the ground.

Anyway, here’s what Dick had to say:

Rob, 99% of all golf Pros who have succeed have gone through what your friend, Alan McLean just experienced. This is just the entry point of what makes the difference in those who make it and those who dont at the brutal Q-school. Alan is a fine young man and player with great potential, I believe he will make through his Baptismal of Fire. He should absolutely look at his recent successes and build on them in the marathon fight that is the life of his chosen profession. How a player utilizes his mind will directly affect their level of success. If any professional established a pattern of thinking of, what could have been or comparing themselves to others with resentment¦

This is intriguing. Alan isn’t resentful, just looking for a way forward. It is always tough when you are talented, but haven’t made a breakthrough, to continue to believe in your abilities. I think this is true regardless of your profession.

It is not easier for Leggatt, its substantially different and McLean cannot comprehend the situation that Leggatt is currently in until he wins a PGA Tour event then loses his card, but to speculate on that will not help him at all.

I was actually the one speculating on Leggatt. I really like Ian’s outspoken, frank style. But it must be very difficult to have won on tour and not have a place to play has got to be tough — and Dick knows of what he speaks.

Morland did it again because he has excellent experience in the extremely difficult PGA Tour qualifying system which is far more important than how far he hits the ball. Fringe players on the PGA Tour are excellent players who have been toughed up by adversity. Morland has been put through the meat grinder a few times given his length off the tee and the years hes been at it, (not to mention the cost of two divorces) but he bounces back, one should respect that he delivered.

This is indeed fascinating as it surely provides an insight into why David has continued to grind away, even when a breakthrough doesn’t appear to be in the offing.

Alan is relatively new to the PGA Tour Q-school and is feeling its teeth, but I have him figured as a good learner. This shouldnt detour him at all. My very good friend Jim Rutledge has had the talent of Fred Couples for 30-years and he is getting his first taste of the PGA Tour at age 47 after 20+ Q-schools. Talent in this situation is not in ability that can be seen when one hits the ball, but the ability to have control of your thoughts and emotions when everyone around you is getting slaughtered. its battle field toughness, which is a far more difficult skill to develop, and usually get missed by most. Have Alan call me, I would love to talk with him and help if I can.
Warm regards

Interesting stuff. Richard seems to be suggesting what everyone who has played the game at any level already understands – a lot of what goes on in golf is between one’s ears. Perhaps this is even more important at the game’s highest levels, but I think it impacts every golfer. And yes, I think Alan struggles with where his head is at occasionally; at least that’s been my experience in matching him. I’d argue he has more ability than many of his peers in Canada, but hasn’t managed to break through.

As for me, I flew in this morning to snowy Calgary this morning on Ron Joyce’s jet. Once you’ve flown on a private plane, going back to commercial class is tough, I’ll tell you. Ron is the guest of honour at a Canadian Youth Business Foundation dinner tonight and one of the sponsors asked me to come along for the event. Around 650 of Calgary’s top business leaders will be at the event and — wonder of wonders — they purchased a copy of Always Fresh for every person at the dinner. Should be fun. I’m flying back to Toronto tomorrow bright and early, where the weather is warm enough to play golf. I even had an invite to play on Friday, but my back and shoulder are still in pain from the car accident on Sunday.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • As a friend of Alan’s myself, I am a little surprised at the dialogue between Richard Zokol and yourself. Alan has won on the South African Tour, had low round and top 10 finishes in several European Tour events, had full status on the European Tour, Nationwide Tour, Canadian Tour and South African Tour. Richard seems to indicate that he is just starting his journey, hardly. Alan is far more talented than the majority of Canadians plying their trade around the world. His problem is the fact that he is a Scotsman who grew up in South Africa and married a Canadian Girl lived in Thunder Bay and finally London, Ontario. He has never been able to fully engage with his own community and leverage that relationship into sponsor dollars. He is bright and talented he simply needs to put down roots and see if the community supports him. I ask does London, Ontario have a golfer in its midst as talented and tested as Alan, and please do not compare any talented newly graduated college student with a player who has had full playing priveleges around the world. Please London step up and support him.

  • Hi Rob,
    Just read your blog about the accident – hope nobody was hurt – what happened.
    I was also amused to read about the Bad of 2006 – one of which was our bummer afternoon disapointment at teh old Course.
    I have been down in Palm Springs for 10 days – returning to Toronto on Saturday.
    Weather has been great – golf has been pretty good.
    hope we can get together soon.

  • Rob, thanks for your follow up thoughts, I think you nailed it. Further to BC Golfer: Your interpretations of my words are incorrectly. I am well aware of Alan’s record, ability and experience as a professional including his win in South Africa. My words are, “Alan is relatively new to the PGA Tour Q-school”, (meaning: experience and successes associated with just the PGA Tour Q-school). This Q-school is a completely different hurdle than any other professional event, one that will absolutely play with your mind, if you allow it, because it means so much to those who are trying to get on the PGA Tour. In this arena…the PGA Tour…Alan’s journey has just begun. However, if he deals with this situation as he has with every step that he has made to this point in his career, he should succeed. In fact, there is no reason he can’t go on and win majors. You’re correct that Alan is better than the majority of Canadian Tour players, but that means little when you are in the heat of battle and you feel the panic. The beauty and harshness of golf at this level is that there are no guarantees, just look at Rutledge…in my opinion over the last 20-years, he had better talent than 90% of PGA Tour players and was light-years ahead of all Canadian Tour players and Rut couldn’t get to the PGA Tour during this time. The situation of which we speak is common place for situations on the PGA Tour Q-school…there are hundreds of stories like this. Alan’s “problem” as you put it, seems to be financial, everyone has issues to deal with and they need to figure ways to get around them. This is no different than where Mike Weir was after a few years into his pro career… there are no reasons why Alan cannot duplicate what Mike Weir has done, or go beyond… if his mind allows him to do so.

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