Most professional golfers begin honing their skills from a very young age, benefitting from years of experience and coaching.
However, there are a few exceptional individuals who defied the odds and started on their golfing journey later in life. These late bloomers serve as a testament to the power of passion, hard work, and determination.
In the article below, we will explore the inspiring stories of professional golfers who started their golfing careers later than their peers. We have a lot to cover so let’s jump in!
8 Golfers That Turned Professional Late
Below are 8 impressive professional golfers who started their career later than most of their peers. They come from all over the world with diverse backgrounds. Let’s take a look at these inspiring individuals.
Miguel Ángel Jiménez
Perhaps the most famous name on the list, Miguel Ángel Jiménez, is affectionately known as the “Mechanic.” Jiménez didn’t start playing golf until he was 15 years old.
While most professional golfers have already logged countless hours on the course by that age, Jiménez’s natural talent and love for the game propelled him to success.
Tom Lehman didn’t seriously pursue golf until his mid-20s, a significantly later start compared to many of his peers.
Prior to his golfing career, Lehman was a high school teacher and coach. His late start didn’t deter him, though. He worked relentlessly on his game, eventually becoming a major champion by winning the 1996 Open Championship.
His success highlighted that a true passion for the sport and an unwavering work ethic can overcome the constraints of a late start.
While not as late a bloomer as some of the others mentioned, Steve Stricker began to find his stride in professional golf later in his career.
Stricker was a successful amateur and had a brief stint on the PGA Tour in his younger days. However, he struggled to maintain his card.
After taking some time off and reevaluating his approach to the game, he returned to professional golf with renewed determination in his late 30s.
He achieved significant success in his 40s, including a strong Ryder Cup presence and multiple PGA Tour wins.
On the LPGA Tour, Paula Creamer started playing golf around the age of 10, which might not seem “late” in a general sense.
However, considering the trend of golfers starting from a very young age, Creamer’s relatively later entry into the game is notable.
She turned professional at 18 and quickly rose to prominence, winning the U.S. Women’s Open in 2010 and solidifying her place as a top player on the tour.
Ken Tanigawa, a former investment banker, was in his mid-40s when he decided to pursue a career in professional golf.
Tanigawa had always been an avid golfer, but his demanding career had left him with little time to devote to the sport.
Despite the odds stacked against him, he turned pro at the age of 50. He successfully navigated the ranks of amateur golf before earning his place on the PGA Tour Champions circuit.
Kirk Triplett took an unconventional path to professional golf. He was a college basketball player and only began playing golf in his mid-20s.
Despite his lack of experience, he turned pro and found success on the PGA Tour Champions circuit. Triplett’s journey underscores that transferable skills from other sports, combined with dedication, can lead to impressive achievements even when the start is delayed.
The world of professional golf is not limited to the men’s game alone. Esther Woodward, an inspirational figure. She didn’t begin her golfing journey until her early 20s due to family commitments and a lack of resources.
She started as a caddie, which allowed her to immerse herself in the sport. Through sheer determination and hard work, she earned a scholarship to college, joined the LPGA Tour, and became an advocate for diversity and inclusion in golf.
Mildred “Babe” Zaharias is one of the most versatile athletes in history. She initially gained fame as a track and field athlete. She won two gold medals and a silver medal at the 1932 Summer Olympics.
Later in life she transitioned to golf and started playing seriously in her mid-20s. Despite her relatively late start, Zaharias became one of the greatest female golfers of all time, winning 10 major championships and paving the way for women in golf.
These golfers, along with those previously mentioned, prove that a late start in golf doesn’t necessarily equate to missed opportunities. Instead, it can be the beginning of an inspiring journey driven by passion, dedication, and a desire to excel in the sport.
These remarkable individuals stand as living proof that the clock doesn’t dictate success.
While most golfers begin their careers when they are young, these late bloomers show that dedication, perseverance, and passion can help you achieve greatness at any age.
From Miguel Ángel Jiménez, with his unique charm and late start at 15, to Paula Creamer, who made her mark on the LPGA Tour starting at 10, and Ken Tanigawa, who left a successful career behind to turn pro at 50, each story exemplifies the power of unwavering dedication.
Even unconventional paths, like Kirk Triplett’s transition from college basketball to professional golf, and Esther Woodward’s inspiring journey from caddie to advocate for diversity and inclusion, show us that with perseverance, dreams can come true.
And let’s not forget the incredible Babe Zaharias, who conquered not just golf, but multiple sports, proving that it’s never too late to become a legend.
In the end, these golfers teach us that a late start can be the beginning of an extraordinary journey, driven by passion, tenacity, and a burning desire to excel in the sport they love.
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