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Make or Break Monday: Our First Experience at a Monday Qualifier

Just hours after Jon Rahm donned the Green Jacket near the 18th at Augusta, we had the chance to walk the hallowed grounds...of Bridlewood Golf Club. This Par-71 public track located in Flower Mound, Texas was one of two sites hosting an open qualifier for the upcoming Veritex Bank Championship, a Korn Ferry Tour event just down the road at the Texas Rangers Golf Club.

We planned to go in order to support Leftee team member Jake Doggett. Our friend and fellow lefty, Brett White, was also set to compete. You may know of his incredible story, in which he Monday-qualified for his PGA Tour debut at the Waste Management Open, just six years after a brain infection nearly left him unable to walk or talk again. (It's a remarkable story of a remarkable human, take the time to read it.)

The qualifier had two sites with four players from each qualifying for the Veritex Bank Championship. Fortunately for us, Jake and Brett were both competing at the same site, with Jake teeing off at 8:12am while Brett was set to peg it at 12:52pm. For Sam and I wanting to follow both, this couldn't have worked out better. The Golf Gods were clearly smiling upon us, quite possibly for the first time ever on a golf course, seeing how we wouldn't hit a bad shot all day (pro tip: if you don't play at all, you won't play poorly).

Anyhow, we hopped in the car at 7:00pm Easter Sunday and made the four-hour trek north to Dallas. We cashed in some Marriott points, crashed at the Courtyard, and was up and at it early Monday.

Despite the long drive and lack of decent sleep, the excitement for our first Monday Qualifier worked better than the Starbucks in the lobby. We first took interest in Monday Qualifiers thanks to Ryan French, the brains behind Monday Q Info. It's a world full of incredible stories, both triumphs and tragedies. One we were finally about to see first-hand.

A man of the people, Ryan responded to a Twitter message we sent to let him know we'd be there with our camera in tow, and if he needed anything while on-site, we'd be happy to help. He graciously called us to catch up. Asked if we had ever attended a Monday Q and hearing that we had not, he told us that, although he was biased, we were in for an awesome fan experience.

We'd be right in on the action. No ropes meant we could walk the fairway. (Hell, a local was practically on the tee box pulling clubs with the first group we followed). We've been to some great events across the country, but we were unusually excited for this brand of golf.

We navigated through a classic Dallas neighborhood, lots of brick and manicured lawns, and pulled into the parking lot at Bridlewood around 7:50am. The scene looked like any early morning at your local club; guys spilling out of their trucks, shoes untied, sleep still in their eyes. One thing was different though; it was eerily quiet yet the silence was deafening. You could almost hear the nervous energy buzzing like a power line overhead.

We strolled through the pro shop out to the putting green and driving range, both of which were better than your average local public track. Titleist carry bags lined the scene, adorned with various club and collegiate logos. Guys took deliberate, focused reps almost mechanical in nature. Some had AirPods in, others locked in without the assist of audio.

Other than a few quick hellos (surely some familiar faces on the Monday Q circuit) the scene remained intensely quiet except for the steady pings of center-struck drives on the range. Some competitors had real-deal caddies, others had able-bodied bag-toters, while the rest carried or pushed on their own. Apparently at some Monday Qualifiers, players can take carts, but not here.

There were no hospitality tents, unless you count the starter popup shades sporting the North Texas PGA Section logo on #1 and #10. With that said, the spread of Cheez-Its and trail mix next to the PGA tees and divot tools was pretty cool. It wasn't a courtesy vehicle from Lexus, but hey it was something.

Speaking of starters, they worked with laser-like efficiency, quickly announcing the players about to tee off, and getting them moving down the fairway. We stepped up at 8:12 on the dot to see Jake absolutely stripe his drive, center cut in the fairway. Must be nice.

We were off. Jake's group was full of guys that anyone would be envious of for their skill-set, including Rodolfo Cazaubon, who was the last qualifier from the site with a seven-under 64. Yes, you read that right, a 64 was only good enough to sneak him in, but more on that later.

The course was beautiful as far as public loops go, and best of all, it was set up to attack. As one player told us, "these are the easiest pin locations I've seen". They still looked daunting to us. The amount of birdie opportunities was mildly infuriating for us mid-handicappers. Long straight drives followed by well-struck approaches set up countless 15-20 footers for circles on the card. Bogeys were rare in the groups we followed, doubles nearly non-existent.

Unlike the events on television, there were no flag-toting spotters or khaki-laden rules officials waiting to be summoned. One player in the group hit an errant tee shot that wound up behind a wood and rope barrier guarding a canal. He was unsure of the rules regarding removal of the rope, so after inquiring with the other players in his group, he pulled his cell phone out of his bag and made a call to the pro shop. Yep, we were definitely at a Monday Qualifier. Awesome.

Some 12,000 steps later we were finishing up with Jake (who, not to the bury the lede, carded a two-under 69 after some misfortune and did not qualify). Thanks again to the Golf Gods, we had a few minutes to catch up with him after scoring before stepping back up to the first tee to watch Brett White pipe a 3-wood longer and straighter than most of us can fathom.

The loop was on again. After another 6,000 or-so steps — for those counting, we bailed for a few holes and ate a wonderful lunch in the clubhouse — we witnessed Brett finish with a four-under 67, which left him tied for 28th. Despite not qualifying, it was a treat to watch him pick apart the golf course in ways we can only dream.

The level of play was flat out flabbergasting, except for one group who we swear had to have been a random foursome that accidentally scored a tee time during the qualifier. No sir, it was not the wind that affected your chunked hybrid.

To put it in perspective, 75 players shot 69 or better at the Bridlewood site while 27 shot 66 or better. The four to qualify were as follows:

And that doesn't even count the second site at Waterchase Golf Club, where the four qualifiers went 63, 64, 64, 64 respectively, including Spencer Levin, who went on to win the whole damn thing a few days later – his first ever win at a tour sanctioned event after 343 starts. If that doesn't get your fire going than your wood is wet.

Photo courtesy of the PGA Tour

We are self-admitted golf geeks who were fortunate enough to have a Monday off and the ability to attend the qualifier with some personal investment in a couple of the players.

No, it wasn't Augusta National but as Ryan French promised, it was heaven for a golf fan.

For more coverage of the Veritex Bank Championship Open Qualifier, check out our Instagram page @lefteegolfco.

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