Written by Michael A. Dean of Dean’s Duffers
Photos from PGA Tour and LPGA Tour websites
Life on the professional golf tour is no joke. It is filled with ups and downs. And if one isn’t a megastar with tons of endorsements that comes with “game” life can be a big crapshoot. It can be even tougher if you are a middle of the road golfer who just happens to be Black.
Currently there is only one Black golfer plying his trade on the PGA Tour. His name is Harold Varner III. Varner just happens to have participated a number of years in the Bill Dickey Invitational where talented minority junior golfers are showcased annually. Varner was the top of his class in 2007 after posting 69-70-139 and in 2008 after posting 71-65-136. Everyone who saw him play knew that Harold could play and had a passion for the game. He went on to East Carolina University where he was a top golfer for four years.
Upon graduating for ECU, Varner headed for the PGA Tour. It took him three years but he made the cut on the number on the Web.com Tour last year, earning the 25th spot on the money list, which was what he needed to pick up his card. Since joining the PGA Tour, Varner has earned $604,863 after competing in 16 events. Of the 16 events, he has made nine cuts and has two top-ten and three-top 25 finishes. His best event so far was the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November where he finished T5 at 14-under par 270 that included a round of 9-under par 62. It garnered his largest payday as a pro, $235,600. Last week in San Antonio the 5’8”-170 lbs. dynamo averaged 300-yards off the tee and finished T9 after posting 8-under par 280 in the Valero Texas Open. He earned $161,200 for the week and coupled with his other earnings, Varner has moved up to 90th on the all-important Money List (he needs to be inside the top 125 by season end.
Life is just as tough on the LPGA Tour which local golfers Cheyenne Woods and Sadena Parks can attest. Both golfers were, like Harold Varner III, competitors in the Bill Dickey Invitational. Woods won in 2005 and 2008 before heading off to a stellar career at Wake Forest. Parks best finish was second in 2008, one shot behind Woods. After junior golf Parks headed to the University of Washington. After graduation both eventually played on the Symetra Tour before breaking through to the LPGA Tour.
Woods is in her rookie year and life on tour has been no “crystal staircase.” So far in 2016 Woods has made two cuts and though she has NIKE as one of her sponsors, the list may dry up if she can’t win. Woods finished 78 in the Bahamas in January and last week she finished T61 in the Bay Area on Lake Merced. Thus far this season she has earned $7,292. That’s it, two cuts in 7-events.
Parks is in her second year on the LPGA Tour. So far this season she has made three cuts in seven events and has earned $24,787. Her best finish this season is T27 last week in the Swinging Skirts in Lake Merced. Her other two cuts were T50 and T62 in the Founder’s and the LOTTE. Parks is a streaky player and has made her last two cuts. She can get on a roll and run the table if placed in the right situation. She proved it on the Symetra Tour by winning SEFCU Championship at Capital Hills and the New England Charity Classic in a span of three weeks. She has a major sponsor PXG, the most expensive golf clubs in the game. Thus far in her journey, Parks has earned $94,467 and with excellent play she will only get better.
That’s life on the Tour. It’s no joke. You make cuts, you make money, you miss cuts and you go home broke.