Late last week Chase Seiffert said that it was nearing time for him to set his goal for 2014 in professional golf.
In another section of the county, contemporary Zach Primavera was formulating his own decisive agenda.
To determine which direction his life is headed.
The former Mosley High School golfers both turned professional after playing in college. Seiffert, 22, waited until exhausting his NCAA eligibility and thus far remains excited about a future on the PGA Tour.
Primavera, 23, played two years in junior college, but left school after one year at the University of Mississippi. He said that in many ways 2013 was make or break for his professional career.
It didn’t make, he said, and without sufficient financial backing to continue competing is weighing other career options.
Learning as I go
Seiffert benefited from good fortune after ending his playing career at Florida State. First, he said, he received a sponsor’s exception to play in the FedEx St. Jude’s Classic, a PGA regular tour stop in Memphis starting June 6.
He shot consecutive rounds of 71 to miss the cut by one stroke.
“They give a spot to one of the top college kids turning pro and it happened to be me,” Seiffert said. “It was something I dreamed about my entire life.
“It was shock and awe the whole time. I performed pretty well. It’s really neat, people watching you the entire time … hitting balls, putting.”
Seiffert said he got a good draw with playing partners Andres Gonzales and Gary Christian.
“They knew it was my first time,” Seiffert said. “A couple of really nice guys and good personalities.”
From there, Seiffert tried his hand at the lower tier Web.com circuit, still an extremely high level of competitive golf. That meant experiencing the bane of the non-exempt professional — Monday qualifying.
The routine includes showing up on site usually on Saturday and hoping to get in a practice round Sunday. Qualifying often includes 100 players trying to get one of six spots to play in the tournament.
Seiffert survived that process to play in the Rex Hospital Open held June 20-23. A final-round 65 enabled him to finish 10-under-par and receive a check of $11,375 for 13th place.
Securing a Top 25 finish automatically qualified him for the next Web.com event at the United Leasing Championship where he missed the cut. Then it was back to Monday qualifying and earning $1,924 for the Mylan Classic Aug 1-4, and Seiffert qualified for the Cox Classic Presented by Lexus of Omaha.
Another missed cut resulted in earnings of $13,299 from four Web.com events. Seiffert participated in PGA Qualifying School last month but didn’t advance out of the second of three stages.
“I guess that leaves Monday qualifying on Web.com mostly,” Seiffert looked ahead. “I’m playing it by ear. I’d really like to see how I do in a full season. My game steadily is increasing every year. That’s what it’s going to take.”
The second breakthrough for Seiffert, and indeed it was key, is when he said he signed a 3½-year contract with Callaway Golf to help fund his participation. He said he also has an endorsement from Under Armour for golf apparel.
Seiffert expects to resume competitive golf in late January or early February. The Hooters Tour also is a possibility, but unlike Web.com, which has strong financial backing and commands only a $100 entry fee, purses for the mostly unsponsored Hooters tournaments rely mainly on entry fees Seiffert said which range from $900-1,200.
Wherever he decides to tee it up again, Seiffert not only has had his eyes opened, but gotten a taste of a preferred lifestyle.
“It surprised me how expensive it is,” Seiffert admitted. “I never really imagined with the travel week in and week out. Flying. Never being home.
“This is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid; walking down those fairways. Fulfilling a dream. When I took that $11,000 check to the bank after one week I thought, I can get used to this.”
Seiffert also has completed his undergraduate work at FSU and this month received his degree in sociology.
While Primavera might not have had as extensive resume in college golf as Seiffert, his amateur background is compelling. Golf has enabled him to criss-cross the country as he also chased an elusive dream.
When he played poorly in his second stage PGA Qualifying School event, and like Seiffert didn’t reach the third stage, it had a more devastating effect.
For one thing, Primavera doesn’t have a sponsorship deal to fall back on. It means he has to provide his own financial backing while still trying to play at the highest of levels in perhaps the most competitive of all professional sports.
“I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do,” Primavera said. “I don’t know if I’ll be playing much longer. Financially, where I’ve been, this year pretty much had to be the year.”
Primavera had been competing on a minor tour in Georgia and regularly cashing Top 10 and Top 20 pay checks. However, he said that circuit lost its major sponsor and no longer is worthwhile.
“Honestly, I’m just worn out, I haven’t done much the last month,” Primavera said. “I’m looking at my options. Not having financial backing makes it nearly impossible to play.
“It’s not easy, there are thousands of guys trying to. I didn’t progress and floated around. I had a few good moments … if I had it to do all over again I would have stayed amateur for a while and seen the way things went.”
One of the options that Primavera said he is considering is enlistment in the U.S. Navy. He comes from a military family, his father a retired diver.
“It’s really something I’ve thought about and researched the last three weeks,” Primavera said. “As far as golf goes the window is closing. Anything can happen, and I’d like to keep playing obviously, but it’s not the end of the world.
“Like I said, (golf) just turned into something that it wasn’t.”