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The Reality of Turning Pro: Morgan Egloff racks up miles, followers while chasing dream

Egloff
Rollins Athletics

Morgan Egloff has owned his black Cadillac XT5 for less than seven months, but he’s already made a noticeable dent in the odometer since receiving the brand-new SUV as a graduation present from his parents last May.

“Just over 23,000 miles,” Egloff said as he sat in the driver’s seat, where there’s also quite the impression.

Neither is surprising considering the 24-year-old Egloff’s travels this past summer. After graduating from Rollins College, a Division-II school in Winter Park, Florida, Egloff hit the road to begin his professional-golf journey, which has already taken him up the East Coast, as far north as the resort town of York, Maine, and through the backwaters of North Carolina.

And from the beginning, Egloff has documented it all – his first paycheck, a string of missed cuts, the guest bedroom from hell – via social media, taking his nearly 14,000 followers along for the ride during his first half-year as a pro.

“It was hectic,” Egloff said, “but it was good to get my feet wet and get an idea of what I’m going to be doing the next few years.”

Not that Egloff was diving in completely blind. His uncle, Eric Egloff, has played professionally for 35 years, including for almost two decades in Australia. Now 56, he caddies at The Dye Preserve Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, and has qualified for a pair of U.S. Senior Opens while taking a few cracks at PGA Tour Champions Q-School.

“Being a professional golfer is like being a musician,” Eric Egloff explained. “You’re just trying to find gigs to play and get better, and then hopefully you hit the big-time one day.”

If Eric Egloff’s career is Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere,” then young Morgan’s is more The Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun.”

So many roads to choose.

We'll start out walkin’ and learn to run.


Egloff
Courtesy photo

MORGAN EGLOFF’S CHASE OF the PGA Tour originated, fittingly, in Chevy Chase, Maryland, specifically Chevy Chase Club, to which Egloff’s family belonged. Though undersized and having swung his entire bag cross-handed until the sixth grade, Egloff established himself as one of the top high-school players in his area, making up for his lack of elite speed with a wicked short game and relentless ability to make birdies.

“He was really athletic, high golf IQ,” recalled John Scott Rattan, a teaching pro at Congressional Country Club who has coached Egloff for about five years and also works with PGA Tour players Joseph Bramlett and David Skinns. “He knew how to score and knew how to find the middle of the clubface.”

Still, Egloff, who as a prep sophomore was getting outdriven by some 80 yards, had no interest from bigger schools. So, he remained in-state for college, accepting a scholarship to play for Loyola University in Baltimore. In his freshman debut at Duke’s event in 2015, Egloff, playing under his given first name, Walter, shared a spot in the top five with Wake Forest standout Will Zalatoris with nine holes to play before closing in 8 over and tying for 26th, 14 shots back of Zalatoris, the medalist.

Egloff’s time at Loyola would follow a similar trajectory. Despite making every lineup during that first semester, Egloff had failed out of school by the next February. He spent the next year at a local community college before transferring to Rollins in Fall 2017.

“It was a great fit for us and him,” said Tars head coach Kyle Frakes.

Egloff
Courtesy photo

Under Frakes’ tutelage, Egloff excelled on and off the golf course. He won three times in four seasons, showing an extra gear and knack for going low (when his driver cooperated), and was named a third-team All-American and semifinalist for the Jack Nicklaus Award as a sophomore. This while transforming from a misunderstood college kid who didn’t particularly enjoy his schoolwork into a person with the maturity to handle the responsibilities of playing golf for a career.

“Morgan’s got a lot of upside,” said Frakes, who also coached PGA Tour player Rob Oppenheim, another of Egloff’s mentors. “Of the players I’ve had, he’s one of the four or five guys that, I think, with the right funding, the right attitude and enough time, definitely has a chance to play at the highest level. When he’s on, he’s one of those 80-20 guys where he’ll make 80% of his money 20% of the time. He’s a streaker, and when he gets it going, he can really play.”

ON MAY 26, EGLOFF fired up his TikTok account and hit the record button.

OK, what’s up? So, my name is Morgan Egloff. I’m from the Washington, D.C., area. I’m 24 years old. I just graduated from Rolling College in Winter Park, Florida. And I am a professional golfer… I’m just going to document how the budgeting works, how the tournaments work, where I’m staying, what places I’m going to, and just the general life of a low-level professional golfer trying to make his way to the PGA Tour. So, yeah, hope you enjoy.

Less than 24 hours later, Egloff had struck his first tee shot as a pro, in a GPro event in Hertford, North Carolina, about 60 miles south of Norfolk, Virginia. It wasn’t the ideal start – he shot 5 over in 36 holes and missed the cut by nine – but his new journey had officially begun. And so, Egloff was off!

He played his next event a few weeks later in York, Maine, some 1,500 miles from his new base in Riviera Beach, Florida, where he moved into a home with his mother. He split the lengthy drive between a few major cities – Charleston, D.C. and Boston – before shooting 80, 11 shots from advancing.

“That was discouraging,” said Egloff, who then turned south toward Hartford, Connecticut, for a two-day mini-tour event.

To save money, Egloff stayed with a friend near Boston … an hour-and-a-half away from the course and requiring a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call. That lasted just one night, as Egloff moved into the spare room of a friend-of-a-friend’s house near Trinity College. Not the best neighborhood, evidenced by the sound of gunshots and ambulance sirens, but a bed is a bed, right? Well, not exactly.

The room was, um, minimalist: four walls and a mattress.

“There were no sheets, I slept with my backpack as a pillow, and when I showered in the morning there were no towels,” Egloff recalled, “so I airdried, ran to the car and got out of there. Maybe the $80 for the hotel might’ve been a good move.”

Making matters worse, Egloff tied for eighth, just out of the money. After three events, he was down about $2,320 plus gas – a lot of gas. But a few weeks later, he turned the tide at a familiar spot, Baltimore Country Club, site of his 2018 Maryland State Amateur win.

“Made my first check as a professional, so that’s awesome,” Egloff told his TikTok followers after tying for ninth and cashing $3,100.

With $540 in expenses for the week, though, Egloff still was, as he puts it, “negative-something.” Then it started to snowball. He played four straight events in August, spending about $3,738 and his only profit, a mere $100, coming by way of a pro-am. He lost his opening tee ball and had four three-putts to miss by seven at the Wyndham Championship pre-qualifier, and he then fell four shots shy of the cut in three straight GPro events, in South Carolina, Virginia and North Carolina.

As his struggles mounted, Egloff opened up TikTok: “All right, I’m getting pretty sick and tired of getting on here and saying I missed the cut, but I missed the cut.”

The negative comments were also wearing on him:

Dude so close. If you just hit 4 hole in ones you would’ve made the cut.

With action like that u need a job.

Time to sell insurance.

“You see all these positive comments and those fly by,” Egloff said, “and then you see the negative comments of people telling me to quit and that I suck.”

So, in mid-August, Egloff pledged to go on a social-media detox. He didn’t post a video for a few weeks. During that time, he trekked down to Prattville, Alabama, for the pre-qualifying stage of KFT Q-School – and he made it through by two shots. He shared the good news with his followers, but then later had to break some not-so-good news: he had received his 11th choice for first stage. Two weeks later, he flew out to Las Vegas, drove two hours through Valley of Fire State Park to St. George, Utah, played 72 holes in even par and was eliminated by 16 shots.

“Before I went out there, I said I believe that everything happens for a reason,” Egloff told his followers after arriving back home. “I still believe that.”

But Q-School had taken its toll – physically, mentally and financially (about $8,000 for both stages).

“I needed a mental reset,” said Egloff, who this time committed to an indefinite break from social media after first stage. “It was just a lot, a lot of driving and I’m missing all these cuts, and it’s hard to motivate yourself to keep going because you know in the back of your mind that it can all flip in one week, but you also have to convince yourself that this is going to be a really long process. The attitude I’ve held is I just have to keep getting better every day.”


Egloff
TikTok

PGA TOUR DRIVING RANGES are lined with TrackMans and other brands of launch monitors. Egloff has one, too – sort of – and his only cost $32.

“The poor man’s TrackMan,” Egloff affectionately calls it. Also known as some alignment sticks and bath towels from The Home Depot.

Egloff usually sets up his makeshift targets on the left side of the driving range at The Florida Club in Stuart, Florida, a public course about a half-hour from home. That way he can dial in his wedge distances without breaking the bank. Sure, it takes some time to set up and tear down, but it’s an integral part of Egloff’s routine.

When Egloff was a teenager, Rattan would continually stress the importance of cadence. But like many kids, Egloff would often get off track and venture down rabbit holes, wanting to try out new things with his swing. Rattan, meanwhile, would be there to pull him right back out, with a few constant reminders: focus on the basics, stay disciplined and stick to what works.

“Getting better doesn’t mean getting different,” Rattan explained. “A lot of players, when they turn pro, think that they have to do something different, that they need to be somebody they’re not, instead of working on their strengths and saying, ‘This is what I do well, I’m going to do more of that.’”

Egloff knows he’ll never be a bomber, so he’s focused more on keeping it in play in order for his scoring clubs shine. Not that he hasn’t gotten longer – he gained 4 mph in swing speed this summer, up to 115 (good for about a 285-yard carry), thanks in part to his mobile gym. For $120, he’s got everything he needs – a yoga mat, two 30-pound dumbbells, a 10-pound medicine ball and some resistance bands – and it all fits in the back of his Cadillac.

Mentally, he’s also building strength. Right before Thanksgiving, Egloff ended what was nearly two months away from TikTok, a span that included just one Florida Elite Golf Tour event. Despite missing another cut, Egloff felt more positive. He had started meditating and reading a book called, “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment,” by Eckhart Tolle.

The takeaway: be more present.

Dragged down less by negativity, Egloff now looks back fondly on his summer. Sure, he missed a lot of cuts, but he also got to travel with a buddy for a couple of weeks and spend time in some neat cities, most notably Columbia and Athens, Georgia. Good food, good company (his TikTok fam included) and good memories.

“Every week is your greatest week, whether it’s travel or play,” Eric Egloff said. “You might have a week where you play lousy, but you found a real interesting place. Other weeks you might be traveling and you’re in a nothing spot, but you played great, so it’s a memorable week.”

Sometimes it’s both. Egloff spent the past few days in cozy surrounds, Central Florida, as he teed it up in a three-day Florida Elite event at The Golden Bear Club at Keene’s Pointe. He stayed with Frakes and his wife, Catherine, in Winter Park, about a half-hour away, so all he was on the hook for was food, gas and the $1,000 entry fee. Akshay Bhatia won the $50,000 first-place prize at 16 under, but just seven shots back in T-12 was Egloff, who earned his second career check, this one worth $2,376. That will help offset some of the $2,999 entry fee for the Big Money Golf Classic later this month. The event, also in Orlando, will award $100,000 to the winner.

“That’d be like my major championship,” Egloff said. “That’d be a big one.”

It’s the kind of big money that would fund an entire year’s worth of expenses, from Q-Schools (Egloff is planning on Canada’s this spring and will take another stab at KFT in the fall) to Monday qualifiers. Egloff, though, can keep the dream going regardless of how that week pans out. His parents set aside some money for their son’s pro career after selling their house in Maryland. Egloff is fortunate, but he also knows that funding won’t last forever, which is why he’s continued to travel frugally and has even picked up a part-time sales job for some extra cash.

Egloff also has crowdfunded for a few hundred dollars – just not for himself.

Some may call it charity. Egloff calls it “Morgan’s Dream Team.” The idea sparked after he gave away an old set of Titleist irons to a follower. He then raised over $900 to buy a high-school golfer named Ethan Kollen, who was using his uncle’s old set, his first new set of clubs.

“I’m so proud of him,” Frakes said. “He can be a prankster, but he’s also a sweet, deep kid. Everybody knows what a great heart Morgan has.”

Added Rattan: “How many pro golfers his age, and in his position, are doing that?”

Egloff hopes Kollen, who got his Callaway irons and wedges two weeks ago, is the first of many kids he can help.

“Obviously, I have a lot of on-course goals, but off the course, one of my goals is to start a foundation that helps grow the game of golf and helps kids who are less fortunate get into the game,” Egloff said. “I grew up in a good situation and I’m very thankful for that, but some people just don’t get the exposure to golf that maybe they should, and if I can do anything to help with that, that’d be great. I wouldn’t put a limit on it.”

Should Egloff fulfill his dream of making it to the PGA Tour, he’ll have no issue. 

But that, of course, is down the road.

For now, Egloff will keep driving on and enjoying the ride.