Welcome Back To Amateur Golf

Golf Austin.Org asked Jay Reynolds to relate his experience as a professional golfer and his reasons for regaining his amateur status.  He wrote the following article for GolfAustin.  We appreciate him taking the time and look forward to him rejoining the local amateur golf competitions.

Jay Reynolds here.

Some of you in the golf world may know who I am. I grew up in Austin, went to Austin High and enjoyed a fruitful junior and amateur career before I turned professional in 2005, after graduating from University of New Mexico. I toured full time through the 2010 season, then part time in 2011 and 2012. I competed on the Canadian Tour, Hooters Tour and a few events on what is now the Web.com Tour – along with various other mini tours and state opens.

jay winningI was in Waterloo, Iowa in the summer of 2012 – which ironically was the site of my largest win as a pro, the 2007 Waterloo Open. Along with that win came a salty $35,000 check! Not bad for two days of work! But here I was 5 years later, the money long spent, having missed the cut at Waterloo and also at the Cedar Rapids Open which is the following week.

I was sitting at the best local coffee shop I could find, Cup of Joe. Which I’ll seek out in every town I visit. I was feeling reflective – which missed cuts can do to a guy. I was thinking about life, fairways, greens, and missed three footers. It was at that moment that I knew deep down that I was done with professional golf.**

**For at least the foreseeable future.

coscoMy game was in decent shape, but running the vacation rental management business I helped start (VacationCake Rentals), tour managing a kick ass guitar player (Monte Montgomery), and teaching a little golf here and there left me very little time to really work on my game. Unfortunately “decent shape” doesn’t make any money at a high level. And it wasn’t about the money. I didn’t care about the entry fees. I didn’t care about the cost of gas to drive from Austin to Waterloo. I didn’t even really care about the possibility of winning the $55K first place check at The Waterloo Open that year. [1]


So I’m not a math major, but I added all that up in my head and after my recently caffeinated internal calculator chewed on the data it popped out the answer: it was time to change things up.

So while I sat in that coffee shop, talked briefly with my dad Peach and a couple other of my golf confidants, and then went over to USGA.org and officially filed for my reinstatement to become an amateur. I filled out page after page of the application, plugged my credit card info in and hit “submit.” So as of July 30, 2012 I officially threw in the towel on chasing down childhood dreams. Which was a harder thing to do than most people realize. But I knew it was the right thing to do.

So, now lets fast forward to today: April 16th, 2014. I have had to sit on the sidelines of the golf world for nearly two years. Playing basically nothing but local skins games and the US Open qualifier.

One of the other ways I have managed to stay active in golf is by caddying for Peach once in a while. It’s a strange feeling to be the one holding the head cover and not swinging the driver. There were more than a few times while caddying when I pulled his driver out his bag and handed him the head cover before I realized I wasn’t the one who was hitting the shots. As I politely paced yardages and read putts, I have to say the memories piled up. [2]

jay and peachThere was the US Mid-Am qualifier at The Hills where he chipped in on the last hole for a 74, to qualify as a 58 year old. There was the 68 on a windy day at Kizer last year to take the outright lead in the Austin Men’s City Championship heading into the last round (also chipped in on the last hole there!). There have been two Rudy’s Cup’s, and almost winning The Bluebonnet Cup a time or two. There were the two US Senior Amateur Championship’s he qualified for – including a 68 to win the USGA Medal at the River Crossing qualifier last year, then he easily made the match play in the main event.  Even though he lost in the first round, just making the match play qualified him for the Senior British Amateur at Ganton Golf Club (where they played the Ryder Cup in 1949) this coming summer.

Fun fact: between Peach and I, we have played in every single individual USGA Amateur event: US Junior Amateur (Peach in 1971), US Amateur (Jay in 2003, 04, 05), US Public Links (Jay in 2001, 03, 04), US Mid Amateur (Peach in 2011), and US Senior Amateur (Peach in 2011 and 2013).

As it turned out, I was having quite a bit more fun working on Peach’s game and seeing his progress than I was struggling as a mini-tour trunk slammer – that’s for sure. And a few key things struck me: He didn’t care about the entry fees. He didn’t care about the cost of gas to drive from Austin to wherever. And he definitely didn’t care about winning any money.

But he did care about the competition. And the competition is a lot of fun.

So as I write this, I haven’t felt so much excitement about my own golf game in a long long time. Getting back to signing scorecards, being nervous over a knee-knocker, and scrubbing my grips the night before a big round. As I cross the days off my calendar towards the end of my two year hiatus from competitive golf I am anxious to see how i’ll react when the gun goes off at my first tournament: the 2014 Austin Men’s City Championship.

Luckily I won’t have to worry about Peach beating me that week (i’d never hear the end of it), because he’ll be in Britain, with his brother Mark on the bag.

I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome myself back to amateur golf and special thanks to: Randy Reynolds and Austin Amateur Golf; Mike Allen, Billy Clagett, and Chip Gist of GolfAustin.Com; everyone at The Hannon Cup Association; and all the incredible talent that comes out of the woodwork for all the great tournaments around Austin. One thing is for sure, we have a healthy backbone in the local amateur golf scene, which I’m very happy to be a part of again. [3]

[1] This is what a trip to CostCo looks like when you’re in the vacation rental business.

[2] This is what winning $35K looks like!

[3] This is on Peach’s 59th birthday – final round of The Bluebonnet Cup in 2012

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