One of the great truisms about golf is that it can be a frustrating game at all levels – from high-handicappers to the most seasoned professionals.

Many of us dream of one day breaking 80. Others simply would be happy scoring in double figures. Some have scorecards that always end in the 70s but they can’t go low enough to match par.

These are reasons why people who aren’t named Jon Rahm also occasionally toss golf clubs.

I’ll never know this from personal experience, but I’m guessing one of the most frustrating postures in the golf world is being able to play really well but not quite well enough to turn that play into money. There are too many golfers to count who can reliably shoot between 70 and 75 and occasionally dip into the 60s, but they don’t have the little extra golden touch that would earn them a place in the line that pays money.

This would drive me nuts. Perhaps fortunately, I will never be in this position. Not even close.

I’ve known people who have been in that position, however. Some of them played college golf and did quite well, top performers whose teams won conference tournaments and invitationals. Some tried to transfer that magic to the professional level and disappeared into the mists of one mini-tour or another. 

Friends back home kept waiting to hear big news, that Joe or Jim or Bill had won some out-of-the-way tournament in Florida and soon would begin the march to the Korn Ferry Tour and then the big time.

For one reason or another, it never happened. For every Dustin Johnson, there are thousands of players who had high hopes but didn’t earn a dime, didn’t play in the Masters and didn’t marry Paulina Gretzky.

They’re back home, playing in their county tournaments and working real jobs like the rest of us. They didn’t fail, and they can’t be criticized for chasing a dream. They just didn’t have the one thing – putting or a short game or a reliable driver – that could carry them to the next level. Perhaps most of all, most of them didn’t have consistency. They might shoot 66 one day and 79 the next. Generally, this is not how you make money in professional golf.

The reasonable thing is to set goals. If you’re averaging 92, aim for 89. If you consistently shoot 80-85, keep pounding until that 79 appears.

If you regularly shoot par, shut up. I don’t want to talk about your troubles.

Mike Hembree

Mike Hembree is a veteran journalist who has covered a variety of sports for numerous publications and websites, including USA Today, Fox Sports, TV Guide and The Greenville (S.C.) News. He has written 14 books and has won numerous writing awards at the national, regional and state levels. He is a seven-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.