Each semester, the Golf Academy offers students the opportunity to pass a Playing Ability Test (PAT) like the one they will take in order to earn their PGA Certifications. While the PAT is usually played over 36 holes at the same course on the same day, the Golf Academy’s version takes places over two days at two different courses – on Mondays when we’re already playing our weekly tournament rounds.
Passing the test isn’t mandatory, but it’s a real feather in your cap if you can. Upon graduation, you will get a Player’s Credential Ribbon. To qualify, a student must pass the PAT in one of the four semesters while enrolled as well as have a cumulative GPA of 3.33 in Tournament Golf and Golf Performance Enhancement (which I’m taking this semester).
I’ve wanted to pass the PAT ever since I arrived at the Academy. Last semester, I missed passing by just two strokes after one of our rounds was marred by the wettest weather I’ve ever played through. This semester, I got off to a much better start, shooting a one-over par 73 in Round 1 at Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix last week. The target score this semester is 156 (2x the course rating + 15 strokes).
This week, the scene shifted to Ocotillo Golf Resort in Chandler. I played a practice round on Sunday morning to map out my round in advance and felt very confident heading into Round 2 Monday knowing I had 11 strokes to play with in order to pass the PAT. And then it happened – the nerves. I was so nervous, I could hardly stand it. I bogeyed my first five holes, hit two balls in the water, and even threw in a double just for good measure. I was seven-over par through six holes and taking on water – fast. Suddenly, I only had four shots left to play with… and still had 12 holes left to play!
If you’ve ever played tournament golf, you know what I mean. You feel helpless. All of the different scenarios started playing in my head – how would I deal with the embarrassment? What would I tell my classmates? Would I ever pass the PAT while at the Academy? Will I ever make another par? Granted, this was all self-induced, but still felt very real while I was experiencing it.
That’s all part of the process. If you want to get to the top of the mountain, you have to make the climb. In reality, I just needed to see the ball go into the hole for par or better to get my confidence back. That’s exactly what happened. I parred the very next hole, and all the nerves seemed to melt away. I played the rest of the round two-over par and finished with a two-day total of 154 to pass the PAT by two strokes. Embarrassment – and disaster – averted.