The transition from amateur golf to the professional ranks is full of questions and unknowns. A longtime member of AmateurGolf.com named Amol Mahal is in the process of making the leap into the professional ranks.
Amol Mahal (Credit: Michael Frazier)
Over the next year, we are looking forward to bringing Amol’s experience to Amateurgolf.com through a series of articles and interviews. We hope to pull back the curtain and provide some answers to the questions many golfers have about the logistical process of turning pro while sharing interesting stories that Amol collects along the way while he chases a dream.
In our second installment of "Amol's Journey," Amol shares his experiences and challenges presented by traveling and the grind to improve and work his way up into bigger and bigger events.
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After nearly two months away from his California home playing mini-tour events and trying to Monday qualify, Amol Mahal
returned home with experiences to learn from and a wealth of gratitude.
Stories of roadside motels and vending machine dinners seem like the rule rather than the exception these days as tour pros chase status on the Korn Ferry and PGA Tours while trying to also earn some cash in other mini-tour events in the weeks between. It’s tough out on the road, it’s lonely, and any slight hiccup in a plan: a flat tire, a lost reservation, a ball in a divot can send a player on a tailspin that they might never recover from.
This was not Amol’s experience.
“The benefit of being home is I have the familiarity of my workout schedule. And I'm not eating fast food every single day. So it's the aspects of home that I really needed on the road that were available to me which just made the trip so much easier for me, you know, and so much more comfortable.”
Related: Amol's Journey: The Decision
Over the course of his time on the road, Amol was met with incredible kindness and hospitality. Friends offered their homes to him. He stayed in host housing with other golfers and he even spent two weeks with a friend’s grandmother in the West Palm Beach area; she was affectionately known as “Mima.”
“She was this little Italian woman who had this thick Brooklyn accent and moved down to Florida. She was like the sweetest woman in the world,” Amol said.
What was supposed to be a two night stay with Mima turned into two weeks.
“Mima had one rule, you never argue with Mima,” Amol said with a laugh. “I took her out for dinner once, and that was about all she allowed me to do during my stay.”
One aspect of competing on the road that gets lost in the shuffle is finding good places to practice.
“You just have to go into a club and speak to the head pro and tell him your situation. Usually, they understand the grind and the need for a place to practice and play. I know sometimes guys might get turned away, but for the most part head pros are willing to help out.”
Amol understands that his experience will not always be as smooth as his six weeks in the southwest went this winter. But he’s grateful for all the support he received.
This Instagram post says it all:
Even with things falling into place off the course, the grind to improve and work his way up into bigger and bigger events wore him out.
“I don’t know if I was just running on adrenaline, but when I got home my body decided to let all the viruses I had come in contact with take over,” Amol joked. “I didn’t realize how tired I was until I got home.”
The weeks away from home were Amol’s first playing golf on different courses. He had never played golf in Florida before he arrived in February. Learning how to navigate Bermuda grass on and around the greens was eye-opening.
"But I'd never played in Florida. I've never played in Texas. I always heard people talk about the grain. And I always thought it was an inside joke," Amol said. "And then I finally got there and experienced it. So it's understanding and trusting what you're seeing with the grain reading the cup and seeing how it's growing, and how they're cut in the cup."
Chipping has it's challenges, too.
"Bermuda grain exposes things real quick when you have a chip into the grain. So practicing all these different techniques and release styles at the bottom, utilizing the bounce. And it got a lot better. Got a lot better."
Then there's the wind.
"You know, it gets windy in California. So it's not like I never played in the wind before. But was fun playing on the dormant grass and having a lot more rollout and understanding how to chip there as well."
Amol also learned a bit about himself out on the road.
“I always thought I was an introvert, but I might be more of an extrovert than I thought. I loved the experience of talking to new people,” Amol said. “Don’t get me wrong, I still like to recharge on my own. But I didn’t expect to enjoy that aspect of the trip as much as I did.”
His six weeks really did feel like a business trip. His family and girlfriend were unable to travel and support him in person, but they were certainly a huge help in processing his days and his rounds of golf.
“My dad was a great person to talk to while I was away,” Amol said. “He really helped me process my rounds and continue to help me have that self-belief that you need out here.”
As he reflected on his time on the road, a lot of things started to make sense for him. He realized the self-belief he needed to have to reach his dreams. He realized that he has more to give to himself and his golf game. He realized he’s in a great place to continue chasing his dream.
Most importantly, he realized that he belonged and can compete outside the bubble of Northern California.
In part three we’ll dive into Amol’s competitive mindset, the events he played in, and what’s in store this spring and summer season.