Brownlow medallist Jason Akermanis will take the first step in his dream of becoming a golf professional on Wednesday.
But the 41-year-old faces one of the game’s most brutal tests – Qualifying School.
Aspiring players will contest three-round events in WA, NSW, Queensland and Victoria.
The top 25 per cent from each tournament wins through to the second stage at Victoria’s challenging Moonah Links course with a small percentage then gaining their Australasian Tour card.
“When I retired (from football) I was off (a) 17.3 (handicap) when I was 33 eight years ago,” Akermanis said.
“I was actually hoping to turn pro at 50, thinking if you come down a shot per year, I’d be off scratch by that age.
“I couldn’t land a coaching job in the AFL, even though I was qualified, so you get the hint that maybe I should focus on something else.”
But just like his football, the three-time Brisbane Lions’ premiership player has devoted himself to improving, often playing 36 holes on a Saturday at two different courses.
“That’s more about trying to develop enough endurance to really just keep firing pretty good scores even though you’re pretty tired,” he said.
Akermanis is eyeing a scratch handicap and boasts a best round of four-under par 66 at the difficult Commercial Golf Resort Albury.
He’s a golf fanatic, but Q School is renowned for its pressure with a player’s livelihood on the line, particularly when it’s a two-metre (just over six-foot) putt.
“I think the secret is not saying it’s more important than anything else, that’s when you start to lose focus,” he said.
Akermanis, who recently averaged an extremely respectable driving length of 267m, says his background in elite sport can be helpful.
“The only thing that really helps me from my footy and coaching days is that I know how to get better, I know what’s going wrong and I can fix it,” he said.
“In footy it’s more the instant gratification, whereas in golf it tends to be delayed gratification.
“You tend to work and work and work and, all of a sudden, you get on a roll and everything comes together.”
Whatever the outcome of the next three days at Noosa Springs Golf Course, Akermanis will have no regrets.
“If I was 90 years old and sitting in a nursing home I would rather have said, ‘oh mate, I had a crack’.”
- Receive our daily newsletter straight to your inbox each morning from The Border Mail. Sign up here