Former Granger embarking on professional golf career

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 21, 2016

LAGRANGE – He knows the challenge he’s facing.

There are thousands of men across the country trying to stake their claim as a professional golfer, and it is an uphill climb for most of them.

For every golfer who is a regular on the PGA Tour, there are hundreds of others toiling away on one of the other so-called minor-league tours.

Charlie Martin, a former standout golfer at LaGrange High and Georgia Southern University, is one of those men looking to make his way as a pro.

Martin, who was a senior on the Georgia Southern golf team in the 2014-2015 season, is in McIntosh County this week to compete in a tournament on the Swing Thought Tour.

The tour is composed of players largely in the same position as Martin, young golfers trying to get their foot in the door in professional golf.

This week’s tournament is the NeSmith Chevrolet Classic, and the four-round event gets under way today and runs through Sunday.

Martin competed in a few tour events earlier this summer, and while he played well at times, he was unable to survive the cut and make it to the weekend.

“I shot 70-72 a few weeks ago and missed the cut, and I shot 75-69 and missed the cut,” he said. “It’s a whole different ballgame out there.”

Martin said he has also played some tournaments on other mini-tours, and he has attempted to qualify for some PGA and events as well.

Qualifying for for the PGA and tours takes place on Mondays, with a handful of spots available for events throughout the year.

“I do a lot of mini-tours,” Martin said. “I’ll do Mondays, and PGA Tour Mondays. I’m going to Connecticut Monday to play in the Travelers Championship.”

Martin, like every other young player, would love to achieve instant success and start winning tournaments and climbing the professional ladder as quickly as possible.

He is realistic, though, and even though the results might not there, he feels he is making strides.

“It’s just a matter of getting comfortable, and I feel like I’m getting more and more comfortable,” he said.

When he’s not on the road, Martin is living in Auburn, and he has a group of other players he’s been working with, and he feels that has helped him advance his game.

“There’s so much better competition there, and so many more guys pushing you to get better, and holding you accountable,” he said. “That’s kind of what we do out there. Everybody kind of looks after each other. Even though you compete against one another every day, we’re all friends, we’re all pulling for each other, we’re all wishing each other luck. It’s a lot of fun. It’s kind of like a brotherhood. Everybody’s looking out for each other.”

In September, Martin will participate in the qualifying tournament at Callaway Gardens, with the top finishers earning a full-time spot on that tour.

He played in the qualifying tournament last year, and despite shooting a stellar third-round score, he fell short of his goal of earning a spot on the tour.

“I’m looking forward to,” Martin said. “I didn’t make it to second-stage qualifying (last year). I posted a 64 in the third round at Callaway when I needed it. That was encouraging.”

Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports

By Kevin Eckleberry