January 21, 2019
Surprise Winner of the Desert Classic
I admit that I do not know Adam Long, the winner of the Desert Classic, but I do know his story. For most of Sunday, he was just someone that was playing with Phil Michelson and Adam Hadwin. He was someone that was having a career week and was in line for a big paycheck. What could you expect from someone who only made one cut on the PGA Tour and finished 67th. This was a person who hadn't won one tournament on the Web.com Tour, Canadian Mackenzie Tour, or the Latinoamerica Tour, since he turned pro in 2010! But three birdies, that included two chip-ins, put him tied with his more experienced competitors as they teed off on the last hole.
Golf is one of those sports that rewards hard work and tenacity. Adam has always been a good player, but not the best throughout his life. He had a respectable junior record that rewarded him a scholarship to Duke University. Duke is a good golf school and he played with and against accomplished golfers throughout is collegiate career. Adam had some nice finishes and accomplishments, but not a trophy. He did have enough positive results to make him think he could succeed playing professional golf. Not being one of the elite players when he turned pro nine years ago, he had to work his way up through the ranks. That means playing in small mini-tour events like the Hooters Tour or eTour events, where you are basically playing for your entry fee. Good experience, but not a lot of money to be made. He was able to move up to the Latinoamerica and Canadian Mackenzie Tours and then to the Web.com Tour. Although he never won, he made progress each year. Then in 2018, he finished 13th in the season long Web.com Tour points system and secured his PGA Tour card for 2019.
We look at Adam Long winning in the Palm Springs desert as an overnight miracle or fluke, but to Adam it was a journey that started as a teenager. He battled long odds to become a PGA winner. Most would've given up, but he kept at it. He was asked, "What made you keep trying?" His answer was that he just loved golf and it was what he always wanted to do and he was going to see it through to the end.
The PGA Tour is filled with talented athletes. Is their talent something they were just born with? Did they have a special gene or inclination of this particular sport? What you will find is that they had inner motivation and desire to excel at their sport. That linked with the opportunity to devote a great deal of time to their passion along with proper guidance and teaching. Time to dedicate to your sport or endeavor is essential. Research has found that a minimum of ten years is required to reach world-class status in any complex task. Another benchmark is the ten-thousand-hour rule. But just practicing for a long time doesn't guarantee success, what is required is ten-thousand- hours of PURPOSEFUL practice. That means the right technique, coach and environment. What you will find on the PGA Tour is similar stories of long hours devoted to their sport, of caring parents encouraging their child's passion, and of mentors that helped guide their prodigies in the right direction.
I said I knew Adam Long's story, because I have seen it many times before. One aspect of golf, that I love, is that it rewards the hard worker, the person that doesn't give up. Superior skills don't always win at golf. Adam Long kept plugging and doing the right things. His hard work materialized on the 72nd hole with a masterful 6 iron to twelve feet. With a lifetime of training for just this situation, he stayed in the moment and made a life changing putt. He said later that he just "knew" that he was making that putt. That didn't just happen on the 18th green on the Stadium Course in La Quinta on Sunday, but many years ago the foundation was being implanted as part of purposeful practice.
We live in an instant gratification society. Golf rarely works that way. Get proper instruction and dedicate some purposeful time to mastering your skill. You will succeed. Adam Long is another example of this!