Life beyond golf for former PGA and LPGA players
by: Martha Kruk Twitter @1Misstennis
Commitment, passion, focus, perseverance and talent are the key qualities one needs to become a successful professional athlete in any sport.
However, there comes a point in every career when the athlete realizes that playing professional sports isn’t going to last forever and they are forced to ask themselves – what’s next?
Athletes have been consumed by their sport and for most; the aging process catches up with them.
But there are a rare few that have a plan for what’s ahead.
Former LPGA golfer Jane Geddes, winner of 11 tournaments, including two major championships, took a leap of faith while still in the prime of her golf career.
At 43, Geddes stepped away from a profitable living that officially earned her over $4 million dollars to go back to school.
“I left Florida State without graduating and I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to go back to school, so when I stopped playing that was when I at the very least wanted to finish my undergraduate degree,” Geddes said.
Geddes retired on her terms, but initially she wasn’t confident about her future after professional golf.
“It’s scary, I’m 42 years old, and you contemplate putting together a resume and you think – what am I going to put on it? There’s clearly nothing to put,” Geddes said.
In a recent phone interview, Geddes mentioned that she quickly pursued law to help enhance her credibility.
The New York native explained that the back-to-school experience was positive, “I probably learned more in a year, than I did in four years my first time around,” she said.
“Everything was logical, you know – I wanted to be there. It wasn’t like I was just checking a box and saying this is what I should be doing right now.”
Similar to Geddes, PGA tour veteran Joe Ogilvie retired from golf at the age of 41 after feeling he had accomplished all he could in the sport.
Ogilvie’s lone victory on the PGA Tour came at the 2007 U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, but he also won four Web.com Tour events.
He was still in a position to make money on the tour but felt he wasn’t going to get any better, “I wanted to get into a business that had growth and that I could get better at as I aged, as opposed to the athlete’s dilemma of knowing that as you age, you’re probably going to get worse,” Ogilvie said.
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When he was 28, Ogilvie had the foresight to start making a plan for the future and got involved with investments and the business side of golf.
He eventually crossed paths with Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world.
Much of Buffett’s advice rubbed off on Ogilvie and made his transition into the business world relatively smooth.
Ogilvie believes that unlike most of his fellow professionals on the PGA Tour, he was able to make a clean break from golf and advises that proper preparation and planning is vital.
“Most athletes are faced with a cliff and in that as soon as their last contract is over, they go from making millions of dollars to zero,” he said.
“When you go from an income of millions to an income of zero – you really have to prepare and what your lifestyle is and everything else,” he said.
Very few athletes don’t love what they are doing. Their dilemma eventually is to find the next great career passion in their lives.