Jay Card (photo courtesy of Jay Card)
The idea of a journeyman is a popular one in professional golf. Most fans’ hearts are warmed by the story of a player who has knocked at the door on various tours – lived out of his car, slept on friends’ couches – before finally finding his breakthrough. The competitive nature of pro golf and the abundance of mini tours sets up that opportunity for lots of young players.
Jay Card’s golf story has prominent journeyman qualities, including a recent breakthrough, except that Card has lived the nomadic life of an amateur golfer, caddie and aspiring musician. Card, 24, plans to turn professional next month, but it’s doubtful that will dull any of the adventure that surrounds a Long Islander who seems game to try anything – in golf, music, travel and life in general.
Card made amateur golf headlines on Oct. 20 when he won the Richardson Memorial, a long-running tournament on Long Island. He defeated Darin Goldstein in an 18-hole match-play final.
“It’s going to be a special event for me from now on,” Card said. “The first win, it’s pretty cool.”
Two days later, he was in his car driving south to pick up a winter gig as a caddie at Dye Preserve in Jupiter, Fla. Card caddies summers at National Golf Links near his Shelter Island, N.Y., home, and has also carried at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Fla. By January, after a few months to further hone his game, Card will try to qualify for the PGA Tour Latinoamerica, and then will try Mackenzie Tour qualifying (i.e. PGA Tour Canada) again in the spring after a close call a year ago.
“It’s one of those things, if you’re not fully committed, why are you going to do it?” Card said when asked if this is it for amateur golf. “I don’t really want to give myself an easy out. I was talking to my teaching pro the other day. He’s like, ‘Why don’t you just do it?’ … This is kind of what I see myself doing.”
If golf seems natural to Card, it’s because it’s always been a part of his life. Card was 6 years old when he began attending an annual summer golf camp on Shelter Island (a small township on the eastern end of Long Island) run by Bob DeStefano, an institution at Gardiner’s Bay CC for half a century.
“He was like my grandfather,” said Card, who remembers looking forward to that weekly summer clinic all year. “He taught me how to play and he has such a rich history of bringing up good players in the area.”
Surrounded by historic golf on Long Island (think National Golf Links, Sebonack, Shinnecock, Maidstone), it’s easy to see why the game took hold. Card first played Winged Foot with a family friend when he was 14. He played Shinnecock near the end of his high school career, shooting 74 from the then-U.S. Open tees. The caddie gig at National Golf Links followed, and the club was generous with playing opportunities for its young loopers.
Still, Card had little caddie experience.
“I found myself taking off the head covers and trying to hand the head covers to players at first, like let me hit this for you,” Card said. “It was a totally different experience trying to manage someone else’s game but it’s been cool.”
Card graduated from tiny Shelter Island High School (the total student body, K-12, was 260) and chose High Point University in North Carolina on academic merit, not for golf. Still, he was visible enough in that golf community to get the call when a player on the roster broke his ankle and left the team a player short. So Card walked on the second semester of his sophomore year and made three starts with High Point. He best finish was a T-27 at the Davidson College Invitational.
“Even when I was there, I was kind of bouncing to practices late from music rehearsals,” Card said of not returning to the team. He graduated from High Point in 2016 with a degree in musical performance.
Even though golf has been so prominent in his life and even though he’ll chase it as a profession, music is an equal passion. At a small school, nearly everyone sings in the choir and plays in the band, and for Card that identified a talent. He started doing musicals as a high school freshman and was hooked as soon as he got his first lead – the lion in the Wizard of Oz – as a sophomore.
The life of a musician is equally nomadic, and Card has done everything from sing a mass at the Vatican to perform with his High Point a capella group, the Staccato Tones, at Carnegie Hall. He repeats a stat he was once told concerning maturation of the male singing voice: that it doesn’t happen until 28. That buys Card some time to pursue golf.
In addition to the nomadic quality of chasing each career, there’s a performance aspect that’s equally appealing.
“Whether you’re performing in front of a crowd or you’re golfing in front of a large group of people, it’s that same feeling of putting on a show,” Card said. “I can’t wait to hit this shot and wow the crowd or just being on stage is a really cool feeling.”
Wherever he ends up, Card is in for an adventure along the way.
Introducing the Alumni Report:|
Ever wonder what happens to top amateurs after they pass through the web pages of AmateurGolf.com? Welcome to our new series, Alumni Report. We’ll be tracking the progress of our former AmateurGolf.com members as they navigate pro waters.
Curious what that group looks like?
It's a list that includes everything from Ryder Cuppers (Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed) to long-drive champions (Emily Tubert) to PGA Tour winners (Cameron Champ) and LPGA winners (Jennifer Johnson). Stay tuned!
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BREAKING BARRIERS DOWN UNDER
: Australian amateur Becky Kay will make history next week as the first female to compete in the Isuzu Queensland Open in the event’s 94-year history. The Queensland Open is the next stop on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia.
The 19-year-old logged back-to-back wins at the Riversdale Cup, SA Amateur and WA Amateur earlier in the year, and most recently represented Australia at the World Amateur Teams Championship in Ireland. She was a Karrie Webb Scholarship winner who has learned much from the legendary LPGA player. She calls Webb a mentor and friend.
Kay, who will employ her dad as caddie, hopes to make the cut at the event. According to Golf Australia, no woman has ever done that in an Australasia event.
“(Playing off the championship tees) will definitely change the way I play the course,” Kay said. “The course is going to be a lot longer and my short game will have to be on fire.”
Interestingly, amateur Zach Murray won an Australasia event on Sunday
. The 22-year-old went wire to wire to win the Nexus Risk Services WA Open. Fellow Australian amateur David Micheluzzi was right behind him in second.
Information from Golf Australia used in this note
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After Oklahoma State’s dominant performance last week at the Royal Oaks Collegiate – and Matthew Wolff’s third individual stroke-play title of the fall season, Golf World
research revealed that Wolff had pulled off something that no Cowboy had ever done in the history of a very storied program. Wolff became the first Oklahoma State golfer to go undefeated in stroke play in the fall season when playing at least two stroke-play events. (We have to give props to Golf World’s Ryan Herrington
for tackling a thick Oklahoma State record book to dig up that stat.)
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TWEET OF THE WEEK: NEW RULES ARE COMING
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FIVE QUESTIONS WITH…
Oregon State women's golf head coach Dawn Shockley, who guided the Beavers to victory Oct. 23 at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown. Oregon State went 26 under to win its first title since the 2016 Rose City Collegiate. Shockley, who played college golf at Denver before competing as a professional and working as a professional LPGA caddie, is in her third year as head coach at Oregon State.
1. Your team won with a 26-under total this week. Oregon State hadn’t broken par in a 54-hole tournament in its first 41 years of existence, and the team has done it three times since you’ve been head coach. What’s behind that scoring dive?
I think it’s a belief when you come into a program. There’s a certain culture before – not good or bad, but indifferent to what that is. At Denver, we came in four of us as freshman and kind of turned the program around. Not ourselves, but as we saw that program get better, I remember seeing that and thinking, man this doesn’t take a lot but belief in each other and belief that we belong and we can actually do it. I think that’s what we try to say to these guys day in and day out is that they need to believe it, first off. And then just accepting the challenges that we put them in. We make practices really hard, we push them, and I think that’s kind of been where we’ve really seen them succeed. Shooting under par any time is hard, and especially this week we were talking about patience. That patience comes from realizing that when it’s a scoreable course, or the options to score are out there, you sometimes force it, push it and you feel like you haven’t made a birdie but you’ve had all these opportunities. They’re doing a really good job of buying into that culture and I respect this team a ton for accepting the challenges that we give them. We really have good communication as far as how we do things.
2. How do you describe the dynamic of this team?
We work hard and we play hard, and I mean that in the sense of, we have a lot of fun. My assistant and I, we just have a lot of fun. I respect them for knowing when it’s time to work and when it’s time to play. We have a good balance of that on and off the golf course. It’s keeping it light and keeping it fun and realizing at the same time, hey now it’s time to work but when we’re done here we’re going to play, we’re going to go have some fun. I think that’s really just been our motto – we have to keep it light and keep laughing because we’re starting to realize they’re hard enough on themselves so we don’t need to do that. We need to push them and try to make them as uncomfortable as possible in practice so they can get to a tournament and realize, this is easy. We have fun, we’re goofy. We dress up in fun suits and make them laugh and embarrass them constantly to keep that camaraderie and that laughter.
3. You’re still fairly new at this. What’s the best piece of coaching advice you’ve been given?
I think not knowing everything, and not even close. The best advice I got from Sammie (Chergo, the former longtime Denver women’s coach who also did a stint at Oregon State) is continue learning, find a mentor and have someone who can help you along the way. I’m always wanting to learn something. . . . I try to educate and help myself grow and reach out to others to learn and see what other people are doing. I do a lot of reading and really just continue to learn.
4. This team really fought for a spot in the NCAA Championship last spring, and you were one of the best stories out of regionals that week. How did that set up your returning players for success this season?
Well, last two years really. We finished seventh two years ago and then just missed out again this year and it really put the fire in them. I think they start to realize that wasn’t a fluke, this is really who we are. And that starts to come back to that belief. Regionals isn’t what our goal is, we want to get to nationals. I think they’re able to see it, and it motivates them.
5. Competing in the Pac 12: Pros and cons?
I don’t know that there are many cons, other than that you could be ranked No. 25 in the country (as Oregon State is) and still be seventh in the Pac-12, which is kind of funny. The better the competition, the better it is. The Pac-12 championship is one of our hardest events of the year and I think that’s pretty cool. I don’t see a lot of cons there, honestly. I think we have one of the coolest conferences. I respect all the coaches that are in it. I think we all really try to look after each other and help each other out. It’s a great conference to be a part of. . . . I think it’s motivating because it’s been our goal to get in the top 25 – last year our goal was top 50 – so conference, if you’re in the top 5, you’re doing well. Shoot, if you’re in the top 7 you’re doing well, top 10 – it’s crazy. It’s a great conference to be a part of with a lot of amazing coaches. You talk about learning and growing? I’m a part of a conference that I can learn so much from and that’s pretty cool.