Maverick Ames finds his mark; Reputation aside, Calgary golfer oozes consistency

 Since the link doesn’t seem to be working anymore, here’s a companion to today’s post on Stephen Ames. This is a column from the National Post last year.
Thursday, October 30, 2008

Stephen Ames is a bit of a conundrum.

He is a golfer who will dissect every minute element of his swing, yet yearns to spend more time with his wife and children. He will skip practice rounds at a golf tournament to work with his coach instead — and still win the event, as he did at last year’s Children’s Miracle Classic in Florida. (He will do the same before this year’s tournament, which runs next week). And at a time in his life when most on the PGA Tour see their games decline, Ames thinks he is poised to win a major.

It is typical Ames. The Calgary resident has always forged his own way, and spoken what is on his mind. It has garnered him the reputation as a loose cannon, but his steady play — this is the third year he has earned more than US$2-million — has placed him among golf’s most consistent performers. He has even been invited to play in Tiger Woods’ 16-player Chevron World Challenge the week before Christmas.

It has been a “productively steady” year, Ames says.

“I had good opportunities of winning and when I didn’t win I still held my own,” he says. “I didn’t fall apart completely. That is a good year.”

Ames says the difference between having a career season and simply a “good year” is a couple of putts a tournament.

“Winning would be one more putt per round,” he says. “It is unbelievable. But you put your world in perspective. I could have a couple of legs broken. Or I could have no legs. I’m very grateful for what I have and what I’ve achieved. I’m not going to go home and cry over spilled milk because I didn’t make one putt more than anyone else. It isn’t the end of the world. I still made more than $2-million.”

Some golfers get their minds tied up thinking about what might have been. “And that’s probably why they fall off the map,” Ames says.

But isn’t the contrary also true? Isn’t it that drive to win that separates the best players from the rank and file on the PGA Tour?

“I guess you could want it more [than I do,]” he says. “But I think you need a balance of life. If I wanted that I probably wouldn’t be living in Calgary. I’d move to Florida where I could practise every day. I don’t know if I want the life where I have $100-million in a bank account, but my wife has left me and my son hates me. I don’t think I want that. I’m not naming names, but we all know those guys who are that way.”

Ames believes he has that balance. He is 44 and feels his game is improving. His scoring average (69.93) is 13th on the tour, And he is still holding out hope for the elusive major. His best finish this year was a tie for seventh at the British Open .

“I feel I have the ability to win a major out here, especially on those tough courses,” he says.

What could he improve? He could train harder, he says, especially during the gruelling schedule that follows the Canadian Open and leads into what he calls “the FedEx crap.”

“I completely neglected [my fitness], frankly because the family was out there with me,” he says. “And I learned a lesson. I can’t be father, husband and professional golfer at the same time. The tough part is that I want to be all of those things at 110%. There were weeks where I wanted to forget the golf and go home because I wanted them to have fun. And I couldn’t perform because my mind wasn’t [focused] on it.”

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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.

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