Catching up with Max Buckley By Hank Gola

The 2013 MGA Jerry Courville Sr. Player of the Year, Max Buckley, is chasing the dream on the Minor League Golf Tour in Florida.

Buckley, who hopes to regain his card at PGA Tour Canada Q-School this month, has been up and down I-95, playing in the Tour’s one-day events, often three in a week. He shot 7-under to pick up a win at TPC Eagle Trace in early March.

Buckley won the 2013 NYC Amateur.

“We’re constantly driving to and from courses, but it’s never where I have to stay in a hotel. Everything is within an hour’s drive from my place in Palm Beach Gardens,” Buckley said. “It’s nice to get competition on a weekly basis, but it’s also nice to sleep in your own bed because life as a professional golfer, you go through stretches where you’re on the road for four or five weeks. But if you can play in a tournament and play for money and stay at home, there’s a little bit of normalcy in your life.”

This is Buckley’s third year on the Minor League Golf Tour and he’ll probably play close to 28 events by the end of the season.

“I like the Tour because it’s most of us who are playing Canadian Tour, PGA Latin America,,” said Buckley, 27. “So you’re going up against good competition and you’re playing some courses that are pretty good and you’ve got to shoot low numbers. I think that really helps all of us prepare for when we do Monday qualifiers and you’ve got to shoot really low numbers. Even when we go back to our tours, you’re playing against similar competition and the only difference is it’s four days in a row on the same course instead of one day on one course. It’s sort of, how low a score can I shoot? It kind of puts you in a different mindset, but it’s always good to have a scorecard in your hand because it’s hard to replicate competition unless you’re in it.”

Buckley’s typical week starts with a one-day tournament on Monday. He’ll use Tuesday to figure out what he did poorly or well and then work that out in tournaments Wednesday and Thursday. Then it’s out to the range and short game area until the next week.

“I use the tournaments as really good practice tools for the long stretch I’ll have from spring to fall and then, for me, it’s all about Q-School coming up,” he said. “The hardest part about Q-School is you’ve got about 120 guys and you’re playing for about 14 cards, and if you don’t make it you’ve got to wait another year to give it another shot. It’s about trying to peak for that week.”

Buckley’s game picked up after a visit from his coach, Gary Weir, the Director of Instruction at Westchester Country Club. Buckley was stuck between his old and new moves until it clicked at TPC Eagle Trace. He pocketed $950 for his victory. Entry fees are around $200 a tournament.

“The whole goal is to try to double whatever my entry fee is, so I’ve been able to do that the last two years,” he said. “I made about $7,500 a year and my entry fees are right around $3,000 to $3,500.

“If you’re playing the minor league tour to make a living, you’re in the wrong industry,” he laughs.

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