Jay Williamson, 45, graduate of John Burroughs School and Trinity College, Hartford, CT has just concluded a successful professional golf career and is transitioning to the business world. He feels strongly he lived in the fantasy world of the PGA.
He has been hired as vice president of business development for the prestigious company, BryanMark Financial Group. Williamson reflects on life on the road and life in a shirt and tie, going 1 on 1 with Patch.
Ladue-Frontenac Patch: What kind of opportunity does BryanMark present to you.
Jay Williamson: They present an opportunity in a way to re-create myself. I am 45 and laying awake at night, wondering what was next, the slate was pretty blank as a professional golfer.
I am sure what it (pro golf) prepares you for other than the Champions Tour (golfers 50 and older) and I didn’t think that was a viable opportunity for my family.
Golf is a great way to make a living, but not necessarily a career as far as I’m concerned. It can be a gamble, and if you can take advantage of the opportunity, then on a weekly basis, it can be very fruitful. Also, it can be very expensive, and there are no guarantees.
Patch: How many years were you a professional golfer.
Williamson: I jumped into my career after graduation and drove to Orlando when I was 21 and played in mini tour events right away. I pursued golf for 24 years and I was on tour probably 15 of those years.
I felt like I accomplished a lot, especially where I came from as a hockey and baseball player with limited golf experience. I had a fantastic career but it wasn’t good enough to retire.
I really don’t have golf in my blood. It’s not something I did all my life. It was a great experience for me, and will serve me well as I go on to the next 20 years of professional life.
I was able to create great relationships and I think golf allowed me to get into doors which I am doing now: I am hoping to use those relationships in my new endeavor.
I have a chance to make a living and pay for my kids education and provide for my family and that’s why I put a suit on every morning.
Patch: In a sense, your were a career journeyman on the tour.
Williamson: I hate the word journeyman but that’s what I was and ultimately why I decided to retire. I was tired of that whole journeyman status. Where I was finding myself was as a journeyman and especially at my age. Ultimately, that’s what drove me out of the game. That’s where the tour was trying to push me on to the web.com tour and I was not comfortable with that. The business model on the PGA tour was changing quite a lot.
It used to be where a 45 year old guy could compete out there, but there’s so much young talent and international talent that it’s all different today.
Patch: And you did it the hard way, gaining status through the qualifying school at the end of the season.
Williamson: Unfortunately it was that way many years. I am a grinder I guess. I persevered a lot in my golf. I had a knack for playing well six days in a row. The last time I was successful at it (“Q”School,) I said to myself, this is the last time I will be able to do that.”
It’s one thing when you are just playing for yourself, but a lot more difficult when you are playing for your family.
Tomorrow, what's it like playing alongside Tiger Woods, David Duval, Ernie Els and other greats in the game of golf.