Tale from the Tour: Mason alum Josh Apple's road to professional golf

Josh Apple tees off in the second annual ODU/Outerbanks Collegiate (Photo courtesy of Mason Athletics)
Josh Apple tees off in the second annual ODU/Outerbanks Collegiate (Photo courtesy of Mason Athletics)

My name is Josh Apple, a recent graduate of George Mason University, where I served as the Sports and Recreation Editor of Connect2Mason for two years and was a four-year starter on the Division I golf team.

Now I am pursuing my dream and chasing a career as a professional golfer.

This may sound like easy life’s work, but that is far from the truth.

The life of a professional golfer takes countless hours of hard work every day, and that work can often be quite boring and lonely. As a pro just starting out, there is minimal money available to win and half of the time is spent in the car traveling from one event to the next.

However, once a pro golfer reaches a pinnacle of success, such as Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy, life is good.

During my time at Mason, I devoted half of my time outside of the classroom to journalism and the other half to golf, knowing I would be traveling down one of those paths post graduation. I worked for C2M for three years, taking over the Sports Editor position as a junior and senior. I am very passionate about writing and loved covering the Mason sporting events from the sidelines during school, but I knew I would only be truly happy if I were on the other side of the microphone. I would be truly happy if I chased my dream of playing golf.

My plan is to turn pro in mid-October following my last event as an amateur golfer. At that point, I will begin playing on the eGolf Professional Tour, which is headquartered in Charlotte, NC.

This winter, however, I will be living in Arizona and playing on the Gateway Professional Tour because the eGolf Tour does not have events during the winter. In March, I will resume play on the eGolf Tour and move to Charlotte.

I came to the decision that I wanted to turn pro post graduation midway through my senior year and began devoting myself immediately to the game. I had always spent hours and hours practicing daily, but training for life as a pro is much different.

First I sought help from a company called Simply Performance Group (SPG), where they have a personal trainer who helps with your exercise program and diet, and they have a sports psychologist who helps athletes mentally prepare for a life as a professional. They have helped me tremendously to become a better player both mentally and physically.

I also continued working with my swing coach. Together we came up with a list of things we needed to work on before and during my professional career, which has also been very helpful.

As a collegiate golfer, it was of course difficult to focus entirely on golf. We are student-athletes, not just athletes. Not only did I have to spend time on my classes, but on my work for student media as well, along with all of the social responsibilities that naturally transpire as a college student.

Since graduation, I have devoted my life to golf and have started living like a pro. Although I am still an amateur at this point, I feel like a pro.

And with this attitude, I have had my most successful summer on the amateur circuit.

In the Virginia Amateur championship, I reached the quarterfinals of match play, meaning I was one of just eight golfers left in the state. In the Virginia Open, which is for both pros and amateurs from Virginia, I placed 18th. In the Eastern Amateur, one of the top national amateur events in the country, I came in 13th, highlighted by a round of 63 in the third round.

My biggest achievement this summer was qualifying for the U.S. Amateur, which is the top amateur event in the world. Each year, 300 of the world’s top amateur players qualify for the event, and this was my first time in the field. I shot 71-66 in the qualifier to earn a spot. This year the event was played in Colorado at a course called Cherry Hills, the same course where Phil Mickelson won the U.S. Amateur in 1990.

I also played in an eGolf Professional event as an amateur in July and made the cut, which is a rare accomplishment for an amateur.

For my work this summer I am now one of the top-ranked golfers in Virginia and earned a spot on the Virginia state team for the Virginias-Carolinas matches, which pits Virginia and West Virginia against North and South Carolina. I am one of eight players selected from Virginia.

This event begins on October 11 in West Virginia and will be my final competition as an amateur golfer. Amateur golf is a lot of fun, but I am looking forward to making the next step.

Apple signs an autograph for a young golf fan (Photo courtesy of William Apple) (Josh Apple signs an autograph for a young golf fan (Photo courtesy of William Apple)

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