Taylor Lowe walked on to his college golf team at Sonoma State in California, but never played a competitive round. He sold wine, took a five-year break from competing and worked in the cart barn at El Macero Country Club outside of Sacramento. And on that same course on Monday, Lowe, rather improbably, qualified to play in his first PGA Tour event.
The 30-year-old teaching pro made seven birdies and an eagle in shooting eight-under-par 64 in the Monday qualifier for this week’s PGA Tour season-opening Fortinet Championship in Napa, Calif. Three others made the field on the day, including four-time tour winner Aaron Baddeley.
Lowe, who teaches at the public Wildhorse Golf Club in Davis, told PGATour.com that he was scrambling to reschedule the 15 to 20 lessons he planned to teach this week. He also works in the pro shop and writes up the schedule.
“If you’re playing well, you know you can do it,” Lowe said. “You definitely visualize and all that stuff… but I’m still in shock. It’s definitely surreal for sure.”
Lowe was a competitive junior golfer, but said injuries derailed him. He walked on at Sonoma, but couldn’t break into the starting lineup.
“If you look it up online, you won’t see my picture on the roster or anything,” Lowe said. “I was hacking it up, but I got to practice with the team. I was on the team; I could’ve qualified to play in the events, but I never played well enough to do that.”
He was working at El Macero fetching carts and picking the range when a high school friend’s family purchased Wildhorse. He moved there and became an instructor.
As for getting his own coaching, Lowe has got a pretty decent teacher in George Gankas…sort of. He’s never actually met Gankas, who has more than 100,000 Instagram followers and a list of students that includes Will Zalatoris and Matthew Wolff.
“I just watched George Gankas on Instagram; I’m not kidding,” Lowe said. “Growing up, taking some golf lessons here and there, I was swinging a certain way. And then I watched some videos of George Gankas on Instagram like five years ago and started playing a lot better.”
Lowe’s odds of making the cut are as long as they were for him to qualify in the first place, but he sure looks like a guy we’ve gotta root for.