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Kirk Hanefeld: Diary of a Champions Tour Rookie #3

Kirk Hanefeld, Director of Golf Operations at The International in Bolton, Massachusetts and a Titleist Staff Member for 25 years, secured his Champions Tour card for 2006 with an impressive runner-up finish at Qualifying School in November. This is the third installment of what will be a periodic feature on chronicling Kirk's rookie season on the Champions Tour as he now attempts to secure his card for 2007.

Kirk Hanefeld
Hanefeld, right, with son Ryan at the Allianz Championship

(Read Entry 1and Entry 2)

It has been a while since my last entry, but I wanted to give you an update as to how my year has been going.  First, I have to say that my experience has been fantastic.  Needless to say it's very different from being a club professional, requiring alot of travel and playing golf 6-7 days a week.  Although it sounds like it would be a lot of fun, I am surprised by how physically demanding the schedule really is.  I have gained alot more respect for the guys that play out here week after week.  It definitely takes a toll on your body.  But don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining!

I have played in 10 tournaments so far this year and am currently 67th on the Champions Tour money list with five events remaining.  I'm in pretty good shape to retain my card for next year, although a strong finish to the season would be great and improve my status.  I need to finish among the Top 75 on the money list at year's end to avoid going back to Q-School in the fall.

I did alright in the re-shuffle at the beginning of August which assigns a number to each player and determines status for the remainder of the year.   I was eligible for the Seattle event and then got into the Jeld-Wen Tradition as the 2nd alternate.  Because of the odd number in the field I played with a marker the first two days and played pretty well.

I started last week as the 5th alternate at Pebble Beach, but also tried to Monday qualify.  I shot a 68 (-4) in the qualifier, but lost out in a playoff for one of the two spots.  The tour is off this week, but I should be in pretty good shape to get into the next three events: the Constellation Energy Classic in Maryland, followed by the Greater Hickory Classic and SAS Championship in North Carolina.  The final two events are in Texas.  I will most likely try to Monday qualify for those if I am not already in.

Somebody asked me if anything has stood out this year as a favorite experience and I must say that I've taken great memories from each event.   However, I would have to say that being paired with Tom Watson in the 3rd round of the British Senior Open at Turnberry has been the highlight of a dream season.  Of course, Turnberry was the site of the memorable Watson and Nicklaus duel at the 1977 British Open which made it even more special.  Tom could not have been a nicer playing partner.

I've also had the pleasure of having my 15-year old son Ryan on the bag for five events this summer.  It was great spending so much time with him and having him experience the thrill of being on the Champions Tour with me.  He flew back home after the Jeld-Wen to get ready for school, and I went on to Pebble Beach.  Kathleen accompanied me to the Senior P.G.A. Championship, the Commerce Bank Championship and the Senior British Open in Scotland which was great fun.  She will most likely join me when the tour heads east the next few weeks.

One of the biggest disappointments of the year was the cancellation of the Bank of America Championship at Nashawtuc CC in Concord, Massachusetts.  Unfortunately the region suffered torrential rain and flooding leading up to and during the week of the event and the course was unplayable.  Everyone involved with the tournament from the players, tour officials, organizers and fans were all disappointed.  As the local guy I was very much looking forward to playing in front of my family, friends and members of The International.  It was also a tournament lost for me in an already short season that couldn't start until I turned 50 in May.

I know I have the ability to play better than I have so far this year, but like I said before, it has been a great experience, and an even greater learning experience.  I have shot some low numbers, but I just haven't put them together as consistently as I am capable of or as consistently as I need to be.

I appreciate all the words of encouragement I have received from my friends and members of The International since I started this journey.  I will check in again next month to update you on my status for next year when everything gets ironed out.  For now, I am going to concentrate on playing my best in the tournaments I am in and let the chips fall where they may.




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