Back in 2009, I discovered some interesting golf dreamers...and you know me, I love a great golf dreamer story! Bus alas, I lost track of them. Then, as I was re-posting my Tees2Greens posts here at HopeJoyGolf, I found the original post and thought I should see if I could find some updates. Of the 3 people I tried to find, only one was kind enough to reply back - Erik Tammar.
If you read this post from 2009 you'd find out that Erik packed up and moved to Thailand for 7 months (in 2007) on a quest to improve his game so he could make his way to the PGA Tour or what we now know as the web.com tour. Erik had a blog where he upated us on his journey, but alas, his web site was no longer being updated when I went searching a few months ago.
But thank heavens for social media and Google! I found Erik on Twitter and connected with him to see if he would be willing to catch us up on his life since heading to Thailand, and he said YES! THANK YOU, Erik!!
Here is an email Q&A:
HJG: So, when & how did the idea come about that you wanted to try to qualify for the PGA Tour or (back then) the Nationwide Tour?
Erik: Well, simply put, in 2007, after a five year hiatus, I began playing golf again and caught an extreme case of “the itch”!
I had graduated college in 2005, started working an entry-level software sales job and relocated from Boston to Southern California (Orange County) late in 2006. Having access to a lot more golf, and much better weather, I began playing frequently, and quickly renewed my passion for the game. The idea to make a run at The Tour was something that came about as I realized, not only how much I loved the game, but, that if there was ever a time to go on an adventure, it was then, while time was still on my side.
HJG: You were a 22-handicap at the time you set out on your journey with a goal to be a scratch golfer in a year, what did your friends & family think?
The goal to be scratch in a year, most people thought was an admirable one. The notion of making a run at the tour, on the other hand, was received about as well as when I explained to Mom that I had just quit my job, sold all my possessions (minus the clubs) and bought a one-way ticket to Thailand (Insert sheer Horror). Most friends and family said, blatantly, “you’re nuts”, including my swing coach, and of course, I was, that was the point. Spending a year just getting good wouldn’t be much of an adventure, or a challenge; that’s something someone can do in their hometown on nights and weekends. On the other hand, going from a guy shooting in the low 90s to committing fulltime and training as a pro for a year, day and night, spending over half that time on the other side of the planet, now that’s a journey most golfers only dream about!
HJG: Then you chose to move to Thailand. How did that come about? And how long were you there?
That December I had mentally already decided this trip was going to happen, but was still in the planning stages. While home for the holidays in upstate New York, I ran into childhood friend who was spending his own post college years globetrotting. He was describing his latest trip; four months traveling around in SE Asia, which included backpacking from China to Tibet, into India, then off to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc... Astonished by the amount of time he spent abroad, I asked, “So how much did this cost you?” he replied, “about $3500”. Stunned, my next question was, “OK, hypothetically, if I wanted to go play golf five days a week, live on the cheap, and not be fearful of being kidnapped, where would you recommend?”, and without hesitation he said, “Thailand”.
Over the next week I was online, researching where courses were located, what clubs I could join, where to live, etc…and in January hopped on a flight from LAX to BKK. I arrived in the middle of the night to a B&B located on a dirt road outside Pattaya, coincidentally named, "The Caddy Shack”. After about a week, I got settled into a studio apartment ($220/mo), rented a motorbike ($35/mo), joined a gym ($20/mo), got bearings on the golf scene, and whipped up the PGAHereICome.com blog site to chronicle what became almost a seven month golf Journey in SE Thailand.
HJG: How were you able to afford to leave your job and dream about being a golfer?
This whole trip was actually quite inexpensive. I could live and eat comfortably for around $625/mo and my golf expenses were about the same. Courses ranged from $10-$60 per round, club tournaments were $50-$100 depending on the track, and, I was often able to hit range balls for free as I became friends with the range staff and would volunteer my labor to help shag balls in exchange for free trays (balls were shagged by hand every few hours).
To pay for it all, and keep a small cushion, I set aside pretty much all the cash I had on hand, which was about $10K. The plan was to spend six or seven months abroad playing then figure out the money situation upon returning to CA. Keep in mind, I was 24 years old, so leaving my uber low-level position wasn’t a big deal, and planning finances for 6 months seemed more than responsible.
I also sent out some endorsement letters and received product donations from some businesses and individuals. Some cash donations also came too in via a “donate” page on the blog site, not huge amounts, but it all helped.
HJG: I don't remember how your story ends...what made you abandon your journey?
Eventually there will be a book on everything that happened from start to Finnish, but in short, I left Thailand, played for a few more months after returning to Southern California and finished my Journey at a 2 index. In all, I learned firsthand what it took to attempt to play the game at the highest level, and realistically knew it would have been another 3-5+ years before coming even close to what it takes to make The Tour. Coming to terms with it all being over, I returned to the working world and was hired by a good friend, who, I remember saying, “You don’t have the experience for this job, but you sure as hell have the work ethic”, which was true.
HJG: Are you still playing golf?
Yes, I play 3-4 days a week in the spring, summer and fall but over the last few years have put the clubs away during winter to take a break and enjoying another lifelong outdoor passion, skiing.
HJG: What's in your bag?
Driver: Taylormade TP SuperFast with a 66g Proforce XS shaft
3W: Taylormade Rocket Ballz with a 63g Diamana XS shaft
Irons: Callaway X-18 Forged w/ S2000s
Wedge: Vokey Wedges 52,56,60
Putter: Ping Scottsdale Piper C (yes, I fell for an adjustable putter, and love it)
HJG: looking for information on you after remembering your story, I see you now have a new company, Swinger Golf. How is this venture going for you?
Yes, Swinger Golf Co. (Swingerboxgolf.com) is my new golf brand in which I’m marrying everything I’ve learned in the world of ecommerce, product development, quality control, branding and marketing to a personal passion. The company’s website currently offers what I’ve coined the “Swinger Box”, a monthly package for avid golfers containing a Swinger golf glove (I manufacture), balls (ProV1, B330s, or other GD gold rated HotList balls), tees, and bonus item (this month it’s a poker chip ball marker). The site also offers items a-la-carte and gifts options. So far it’s going great, and I’m working with partners to get more great products that will deliver at all levels of the game.
HJG: What else should we know about Erik Tammar?
Well, I can say not a day goes by where I don’t reflect upon my golf journey. The experiences, friends made, what I learned about myself and the game will be a part of my character forever. I recall after hitting a bad shot once, and displaying a bit of frustration, a local Thai friend in the pairing recited a Buddhist teaching along the lines of, “what you have done is who you are today, and what you are doing now, is who you will be tomorrow”. This advice not only helped me regain composure during the round, but became a mantra I still follow throughout life.
Oh, to be young and adventurous, right? For many of us, golf is an escape, not a job, so even though it sounds wonderful to take 7 months off of "life" and play golf, Erik was really "working" at becoming a player that could make a living by playing golf. I know for me,, even in just playing in a local women's tournament, my mindset changes because I want to play well for my team (if we are scrambling) or at least not embarrass myself if playing in a stroke play event. But to think my livelihood depended on it, that would change everything.
Erik was kind enough to send me a Swinger Box, his latest business venture, and I will be writing up a review next!
As I read through his responses again, here are my thoughts...
I loved his friends & family response (You're nuts!) ....because, honestly, that's what I first thought when I read about him. But how often in life do we say we want to do something, accomplish something, or just escape life and never do? Erik never made it to the professional golf ranks, but his experience brought new paths to consider walking down and a wider horizon to view.
He's got some good stuff in his golf bag! An adjustable putter? I'm going to need to read about this.
And you don't have to pack up and go to Thailand to create your own golf dream...and maybe it's breaking 80, or just getting out more often...this is the year!! Now is the time!!
You can find Erik Tammar on Twitter @ErikTammar
Thank you again, Erik, for catching us up on your golf story!! Looking forward to seeing what's next.
I love golf and I love to write, so I can't think of anything better than having a happy place like this to write about golf to my heart's content. Thanks for joining me!