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Preschool is my nickname for "Pre-Qualifying," the 54-holes-three-rounds-of-golf contest that is the first phase of competition for the Professional Golfers' Association Tour Qualifying Tournament — Q School.
I am not much of a sports fan. I know very little about golf. Even if he's miles away, I can see Will rolling his eyes at my dumb questions.
I've done a little research on Q School so I don't have to push the limits of my son's patience too far.
Q School is the name for the annual qualifying tournament for the PGA Tour. Under the current system, 25 PGA Tour cards are available at Q School, each granting its winner membership on the tour for the following season, according to Golf Digest magazine. To me, it's comparable to a minor league baseball player getting called to "The Show" — Major League Baseball.
Q School is a shot at the big tournaments, the big time. "Grueling" and "heartbreaking" are oft-used adjectives in descriptions I've read.
This year there were seven pre-qualifying contests in September. By my count, 558 players vied for 258 spots. At the contest at Moore's Mill Club in Auburn, Ala., Will was one of 66 players. He finished at three strokes under par to fill one of 39 qualifying positions. The 39 and those tied for the last qualifying slot will advance to October's First Qualifying Stage. There are 13 72-hole contests in that stage, and six 72-hole contests in November's Second Qualifying Stage. Final Qualifying Stage begins Nov. 30 and ends Dec. 5.
The last three rounds of that final stage will be televised.
Will I be watching?
I don't think so.
If Will doesn't make it that far, I won't be very interested. Should he be there, I'll be a nervous wreck.
In my effort to try to better understand my son and what he's doing, I started reading best-selling sports author John Feinstein's 2007 "Tales From Q School: Inside Golf's Fifth Major."
I'm not sure I'll finish it. I'm totally tense reading the introduction.
Feinstein outlines how difficult golf is. He estimates that there are more than 30 million golfers in the United States and figures maybe 2,000 can make a living playing golf. Possibly 500 of those are good enough to play on some of the larger tours or "mini-tours" and pay their bills. Only half of that number is "good enough to play regularly on the PGA Tour or the Nationwide (tour) on a steady basis …"
Geesh. Wet blanket or what?
I have asked Will why he would choose a career in which a blade of grass — a single blade of grass — can change everything.
His response is his usual shrug and a grin.
He's nonchalant but extremely hard working in pursuit of his dream.
I admire his bravery and dedication and love him for it.
You the man, Will.
Kate Coleman covers The Maryland Symphony and writes a monthly column for The Herald-Mail.