Most PGA professionals are not golf course a lot unless they are teaching players who have time to burn.
Being a pro, means spending your time teaching, putting together club events, and catering to members while giving up dreams of major golf success.
Stacy Keisler isn’t like that. The director of golf at Pebble Creek Golf Club has kept the fires burning. He’s 52 and showed a lot of promise during his younger days, and is still trying to make it.
He has big dreams such as making it into the U.S. Senior Open, which is missed qualifying for by four shots last year and blames his short game. He’s out on the Pebble Creek course now from sunup to sundown, hitting it 159 yards, not aiming for the greens, gearing up for this year’s qualifying at the Dunedin Country Club. Can he make it? He has no doubt.
“This is my third try and I plan to make it this year,” Keisler said. “I’ve got the game and I can do it.”
Keisler has had the game since he was a kid and the most valuable player on his high school golf team, just outside of Columbia, S.C. That’s when his dreams took a detour. He didn’t have a lot of encouragement, so he joined the Navy.
“I didn’t have the support and I really didn’t have a lot of money,” Keisler said. “People don’t realize how expensive this game can be.”
But while he left behind his golf dreams, he took his clubs. When his ship would hit a port of call, he was the first one off, lugging his clubs to a course.
His commanding officer also played and Keisler did something regularly that no one should do to their commanding officer. Beat them.
“I never lost to him,” Keisler said. “You know, when you get on the golf course, it is never about beating someone, it is about beating the golf course. He respected me for it. I never looked for preferential treatment.”
Still, Keisler thought about playing with the big boys on the PGA Tour. He was never a long hitter, but he hit it straight and had the game figured out from the tee to the green – except for those pesky 150 yards to the hole.
“I could have been another Andy Bean or Corey Pavin,” said Keisler, referring to two PGA winners. “I just couldn’t hit the greens. I practiced all the time and could never stick my approach shots.”
But he keeps grinding away and teaches when he can. His philosophy is easy.
“Golf made simple,” Keisler describes it in three words. “It’s not an easy game. A perfect round is one that ends up at 18-under and no one in history has ever done that. Keep it simple and keep it fun.”