Setting his sights on the PGA


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Scott Shingler doesn’t seem too impressed with his success on the links.

The former Potomac High School and George Mason University standout has trouble remembering which tournaments he has won, and the awards and trophies he has received as an amateur are all stuffed in a box in his attic.

Maybe it’s because, at age 30, he’s still trying to prove himself. Thanks to financial sponsorship from members of Robert Trent Jones Golf Club at Lake Manassas, Shingler is in his second season on the Golden Bear Tour, a mini-professional circuit created by Jack Nicklaus and held each summer in Florida. But the last two years have not been easy.

He’s fared no better than 18th in a tournament, didn’t make the cut in this week’s St. Andrews Products Classic and didn’t win enough money in 2001 to cover his tour costs for that year. Yet Shingler was able to ante up again in 2002 in hopes to make it through Q school, a series of qualifying rounds for the PGA and tours. Last year, he failed to get past the second round of Q school but thinks he’s on the verge of breaking through.

“It’s frustrating missing cuts but you look back and you think ‘I could be doing a number of other things,’ ” said Shingler, who finished in the top 10 at the Group AAA state meet as a senior. “I am just sticking with it, practicing hard and hopefully my turn will come. I am close but I’ve got to keep gutting it out and practicing hard. None of it would be possible if it wasn’t for those guys at Robert Trent Jones.”

Shingler’s golf journey is an interesting but a convoluted one. After graduating from Potomac in 1990, he attended Virginia Tech in hopes of playing for the Hokies’ golf team. However, Shingler said a misunderstanding between he and the coach prevented him from playing that season.

With help from his father, Shingler found out about Chowan (N.C.), a junior college at the time. He won a few tournaments there, got an associate’s degree and then transferred to Mason after talking with the Patriots’ coach.

Shingler kept improving, earning all-Colonial Athletic Association honors his junior season. After college, he worked in the pro shop at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, learning the ins and outs of club golf while working toward becoming a teaching professional. However, his desire to play competitively soon took hold. After receiving enough money to cover the $17,000 tournament and cart fees for one season on the Golden Bear Tour, Shingler took off for Florida late in 2000 to prepare for his first year as a professional golfer.

“Being a head pro, there’s a lot of hours that are involved in it,” Shingler said. “There’s a misconception that a head pro and assistant pro is the greatest job in the world but that’s not true. The higher you move up [in the club], the less you play.”

Shingler thinks the only thing holding him back from getting his PGA Tour card is his short game, specifically his chipping.

“My putting is pretty good and I drove well all last year,” Shingler said. “My strongest part of my game is my irons so it’s really just tightening up my short game. I hear a lot of people say that all the time, that it’s just getting up and down. … If you can improve three shots a tournament, then you move up the money list quite a bit.

“I have been keeping my putting stats. Comparing them to guys on the PGA Tour, they are right there, and I am hitting greens in regulation as well as the No. 1 guy on [the PGA] Tour.”

That’s not too bad for a multi-sport athlete who took up golf almost as a joke.

“A friend of mine had some clubs and I snuck on the golf course at Montclair [Country Club] just to goof around,” Shingler said. “The maintenance crew would chase people off. We did it just to get chased off by the maintenance crew.”

However, he soon realized that he had a knack for the sport of golf.

“I was able to hit the ball from the first time I played,” Shingler said. “I had no idea where it was going but I could at least hit it out there. I saw my improvement in my golf game and I just stuck with it.”

If he had to, Shingler would consider falling back on teaching golf. However, he’s having too much fun right now playing for a chance to make it big.

“The only time I ever considered not playing golf any more was my first year at Virginia Tech,” said Shingler, who is currently living in Stuart, Fla., about 15 miles north of West Palm Beach. “I started playing more and each year, I got better and better, so I’m not going to quit on the upswing.”

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