The winding road to pro golf

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Andrew Parr (Stuart Franklin/ Getty Images)

As a child I dreamed of winning the Masters. I mean, how fun does that look? It’s springtime and the beginning of the golf season in Canada. I watched religiously usually both telecasts as they had one that was tape delayed and showed at night.

So this is what I aspired to be in my young life. I remember my father came back from Augusta where he was watching the Masters and told me it was the most beautiful course he had ever seen. This solidified my dream of one day winning the Masters.

This dream gained great energy after my father had passed when I was 12. From then on, it became my lifelong mission to pursue this out of respect to him. I vividly remember him saying as we were driving to a hockey game as we often did. “No matter what it is you want to do in your life, you can do it!”

So I hustled. I have always been obsessed with athletics and the discipline required to excel.

These hours paid off as I reached the tops ranks in amateur golf. I had such a tremendous team in amateur and college golf. I had various coaches that would do anything to support me, and they often did.

The one thing I found lacking in my transition to pro golf was a good schedule. In college, you don’t have time for anything other than golf and school. You are told when to wake up, workout and practice. Someone lays out your competition schedule as well as your plane tickets, hotels and meals.

It’s not like I was undisciplined, but sometimes you are training too much and not playing enough. I’ve played seven weeks in a row or 13 out of 14 weeks and the best thing is to take a break. There are times when I have played my best that 7th week and there have been times when I didn’t touch a club the week before Q-school because I was burnt out and finished 2nd in that tournament. There’s not an exact recipe for everyone.

In pro golf I was very fortunate when people from the London Hunt and Country Club and Redtail sponsored me for my first few years. I was just out of college and looking back, very inexperienced and in need of some guidance and the support they provided. At that age, I didn’t know any better but to think I was invincible and that I wouldn’t meet any challenges in golf or life.

I depended so much on my body for my living and at that time my identity as a person. When I had a stroke and lost feeling in half of my body, I identified so much with my life and as a professional golfer. I remember thinking I would never be able to play professional golf ever again. This brought on further self reflection. I know I am not just this, but what am I?

At 24, my world blew open as I began to question everything – the way I was living and what I believed to be true. This brought upon much self exploration.

When I turned pro, I thought it would be just a few years before I was a regular on the PGA Tour. My path has been much different. Golf brought me to different parts of the world, a priceless experience I wouldn’t change for anything. When you travel and get out of your society and begin to examine the way other people live you start to see that there is no right or wrong way. This brought great fascination to all walks of life. The other thing I realized was how fortunate I was to grow up in Canada with accessible education, good food, health care and minimal violence.

When you travel the world and you see millions of ways to live you can’t help but question your belief system. When you are at a stop light in Johannesburg at 10:00 pm and a kid is crying in the rain and needs $20 and a ride to the bus station, what do you do? These are the things that have change the way I view golf and the world.

I realized that just because a group of people has an idea or belief that something is true, that’s not always the case.

What I have found is that there is no straight path to the PGA Tour or in life. I like to find what someone does well and emulate them. The hardest part is finding out the truth about myself and letting that tell me what I need to do to be my best.

Yes, I have high expectations and goals I want to accomplish. What allows me to play and enjoy this experience is the willingness to want to improve as a golfer and as a person. In golf there are so many challenges and the game is relentless. This is what I enjoy most about the game and life. When a challenge comes my way, I grow when I choose to embrace it.

When I first turned pro I was essentially traveling and playing with all of my friends from amateur and junior golf. As you continue there are less and less.

It has been fun to watch friends succeed. Graham DeLaet is the obvious example – I’m his biggest fan and I’m sure he is mine. As for friends that have close calls and step back from professional golf, it’s sad sometimes just because you know they have what it takes to do it. But people’s priorities and values change in life and I fully respect that.

As for taking advantage of opportunities, I’ve played in seven PGA Tour events and haven’t taken advantage of those opportunities at all in terms of results. Those experiences have allowed the greatest opportunities to learn. Having the opportunity to play in three Canadian Opens so close to home is the greatest thrill! When you look around and see those who have come out to watch and know that they have had an impact on my life, it’s very humbling.

In 2012 I had conditional status on the European Tour. I flew to both South Africa and Italy as an alternate on the Mondays of the tournaments. It was a risk financially, but the opportunity was too big to pass up. They ended up being two of my best tournaments, as I was in contention to win on Sunday. I was so grateful to just be in the event.

Self doubt – is anyone immune to it?  It has gotten the best of me at times. It also motivates me. And I love challenging that doubt, to see if it’s real. I also use it as a tool on the course. Sometimes it creeps in when I have made the wrong decision, so it can be very useful.

Andrew Parr is a professional golfer from London, Ont. and a graduate of Golf Canada’s National Amateur Team Program. 

To share in his journey click here or find out more at You can also follow him on Twitter @andrewdparr.