The Golf Coaches Association of America, in cooperation with its long-time corporate partner, the NGA Pro Golf TOUR, will feature a monthly Q&A with former collegians who are currently playing the NGA TOUR. Long considered the premier developmental tour in the United States, thousands of former college players have started their professional careers there. More than 250 NGA TOUR alumni have or continue to play on the PGA TOUR.
This month we spoke with Paul Apyan, who played collegiately at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he was a two-time Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholar. He recently advanced through the first stage of Web.com Tour Qualifying, finishing T17 in the qualifier at Florence Country Club.
Q: You recently advanced through the First Stage of Q School at Florence Country Club - did you find that you prepared any differently for this than any other event?
I do not feel like I prepared for first stage any different than any other tournament. I thoroughly enjoy grinding on my game at all times.
Q: When you finished playing collegiately at Southern Miss and turned professional, did you have long-term goals in mind or were you mostly focused on your immediate golf future?
Once I graduated from Southern Miss in the summer of 2010, I had a mixture of long-term and immediate goals. From the fall of 2010 through winter of 2011, I played on smaller tours gaining experience in order to prepare for the full season on the NGA Tour. I did not go to Q school in the fall of 2010 and spent the money throughout the winter. My long term goals weren't the normal goals in that my goal was, "to better yourself and your game every day so that in the future you will be somewhere way ahead of where you are now."
Q: What were some of your best experiences while playing in college?
Probably the best memory from college would be playing in the University of Rhode Island event every single year. Newport National was an incredible golf course, and after the 36-hole day there was a lobster bake. One year we played with the Naval Academy, and to top it all off two of the years we had boosters from Southern Miss come with us to the tournament.
Q: What would you say was a bigger transition for you – the one from junior golf to college golf, or from college golf to professional golf?
From college golf to professional was a bigger transition than from Junior golf to college. When you have a team of 9-11 guys there is automatically a support system around you. When traveling professionally you slowly build a support system, not to mention the golf is much more difficult.
Q: What experiences as a student, outside of golf, do you think helped prepare you for life as a professional golfer?
As a student, I would always apply myself to the fullest in order to get the most out of my education. I believe I missed 5 classes in 11 semesters besides being out for golf tournaments. The same goes for my practice schedule when it comes to golf. I love to practice every day possible. In school it helps to have a solid foundation so for me it was vocabulary and using flash cards. For me, the same foundation can be found in working on 4-6 footers every day. When I had the foundation of vocabulary, it made it much more easy to figure out a tough critical thinking question. In order to have something solid to fall back on regardless of what is going on during a round, being able to trust 4-6 footers allows me to relax and get back to the basics.
I would also plan my study schedule so that I could get the best possible studying accomplished around my study schedule. This is important when you think of traveling and the associated factors when it comes to playing for a living; oil changes, laundry, housing, etc.
Q: At what point did you know that you wanted to play golf professionally?
I have always wanted to be a professional golfer. Growing up there was a PGA Tour event on the golf course my parents lived on and Bobby Clampett stayed at our house. Golf has always brought me great joy and allowed me to experience things I would not have otherwise been able to experience.
Q: What do you enjoy most about playing professionally on the NGA Tour?
The NGA Tour mimics the Web.com or PGA Tours compared to the other developmental tours I have played on. Practice Monday and Tuesday, pro-am Wednesday, first two rounds are Thursday/Friday, then a cut, and the final two rounds are the weekend.
Q: You have served on the NGA Tour’s Players Board the last three years. How do you think that experience has helped your professional career?
When players do not fully understand decisions a tour makes, the Players Board has allowed me to see the influencing factors most players cannot see. Once explained it makes things much easier to understand.
Q: What has been your favorite event to play on the NGA Tour?
Favorite event? I don't know if I could say just one event, but there are a hand full of great events on the tour. I would include Savannah Lakes, Cutter Creek, and Woodcreek for my top 3 events.
You can also see the NGA Tour's The Third Nine interview with Paul here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlZOM-6FKM8.