The purpose of this article is to share with our Wedgefield neighbors, both golfers and non golfers, that our resident Wedgefield Golf Professional, Kim Young, was a PGA Tour player for more than five years! Yes, Kim played the game many of us love shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the golfing legends, such as: recently deceased Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklas, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, John Daly, Tom Watson, Paul Azinger, Lanny Wadkins, Nick Price, Faldo, and Curtis Strange to name a few. (For the benefit of our younger readers these guys are all Hall of Famers.) The cool thing is that when pushed a lot (or even just pushed a little) Kim can be persuaded to discuss what it was really like and how it felt to play with these legends. I thought it would be interesting to ask Kim to share a couple of his thoughts about his years on the PGA Tour with our Wedgefield neighbors:
Q. Kim, when did you become a golf professional and when did you make it to the PGA Tour?
A. “I turned “Pro” in 1975 at the age of 20 after completing two years on a golf scholarship at Valencia Community College. I began the long process and obtained my tour card in June 1977.” (A tour card meant selected players could, upon invitation, travel to the PGA Tour sites and play in a Monday “Qualifer” to determine their eligibility to play in the Tournament.)
Q. Kim, who were some other notables who obtained their tour card the same year that you did?
A. “Ben Crenshaw (former Masters Champion) and Curtis Strange (former US Open Champion)”
Q. Kim, Did you win a professional golf tournament?
A.“Yes, I won more than 100+ mini-tour events throughout the US and Mexico. The highest ranked tournament (and consequently the largest purse) I won was the Dakota Dunes Open, a Hogan Tour event.”
Q. Kim, when you finally made it to the PGA Tour what was the first tournament you played and who did you play with?
A. “I played in the Western Open at Butler National Golf Club, which was the toughest golf course I ever played. I played or practiced with all of the PGA Tour players during the years I was on tour, 1977 & 1978, 1988 – 1993. A memorable event early in my professional career was the time the only spot left on the driving range was between Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino. Since we’re both very talkative it was both a privilege but yet very nerve racking to practice between these two golfing greats.”
Q. Were you nervous in your first PGA Tour event and were the other players friendly?
A. “Yes, I was very nervous each time I played. Especially so when teeing it up at the various “qualifiers” to get my Tour card and to get in the US Opens.”
Q. Did you have your family with you and how did you travel to the tournament sites?
A. “Yes, my wife and our two children accompanied us on Tour and we mostly traveled in an RV, except when tournament schedules dictated that I had to fly.”
Q. Did the PGA Tour players and their families socialize after golf and between tournaments?
A.“Yes, we participated in various social activities, some organized by the PGA Tour and some organized by players and families: These included Bible studies, Family night, tickets to local professional baseball games and events sponsored by the other Christian athletic organizations. “
Q. Kim, Who did you and your family hang out with?
A. “We socialized with all of the touring pros and their families but we especially enjoyed socializing with John Daley and Steven Ames and their families.”
Q. Kim, based on your years on tour what accomplishments are you the most proud and what is the untold or little-known story about the character and persona of the golfing greats?
A. “I am most proud of the fact that I made it thru the qualification process to actually play in two US Opens and two US Senior Opens. (This process involves getting thru the United States Golf Association (USGA) local, sectional, and national qualifiers – four-five thousand applicants competing for about 20 spots in the US and Senior Opens.)
“John Daley’s time, money, and charity and his willingness to help others was grossly under reported. John was a real stand up guy who I am proud to call my friend. I admired the many things he did, under the radar screen, to help many people less fortunate.”
Q. Kim, when did you leave the PGA Tour and how did you know it was time to leave?
A.“I left the PGA Tour permanently in 1995 after an eye injury. The eye injury was initially misdiagnosed and consequently proper treatment was not obtained until several years later. I did continue to try to play with the bad eye but was not successful, primarily due to short game depth perception. In 2002 an Optometrist in Charleston SC convinced me to allow him to try an experiment. He was able to develop a special corrective lens that worked in conjunction with existing scar tissue. The result was I was able to see much better than I had in several years, not perfect, not 20 / 20, but greatly improved.”
Kim Young has been the resident golf professional at Wedgefield Golf Course for the past 12 years. Kim is available for group and individual golf lessons and each Saturday morning at 10 AM he conducts a group lesson for juniors.