It has been more than six years since Jamie Broce came to the realization that he wasn’t going to make a living as a touring professional. And it has taken all that time, during which he spent four years as an assistant coach at Indiana and two as the head coach of the men’s team at Toledo, for him to accept golf for what it is: a game.
Last summer, on the long trip home to Ohio after missing the cut at the PGA Professional National Championship in Oregon, Broce (pronounced BROHSS), now 37, had a chance to do a lot of thinking and made a commitment to change his game by first dealing with his attitude.
“When I missed the cut at the Club Pro, that really stung,” Broce said. “I wanted to play well, and I played hard, but I just had a miserable attitude, a rotten attitude. I knew my attitude had to change and I needed to be different. I have two kids, 11 and 14, and I want to instill in them that this is a game you can have fun at.”
Otto Black, a Toledo junior, credits his coach for “always looking at the positive things.”
“On the golf course, he’s always trying to keep us calm, keep us relaxed, make sure we have the right kind of attitude. He always says, ‘Don’t stress over one shot. Focus on the next one.’ ”
It has taken Broce this long to completely put behind him the cutthroat world of life as a tour professional. He was a full-time player on the Web.com Tour in 2005 and ’06, and though he was inside the top 100 in earnings both years, his two-year earnings total was less than $150,000 and he missed more cuts than he made.
In late June, Broce and his newfound outlook hardly could have fared any better in his second Professional National Championship.
After getting into the field in Myrtle Beach, S.C., as an alternate, Broce took the lead with a birdie at his 36th hole. He kept it through 54 holes and through Round 4 – until the final hole. There, he stroked a 5-foot par putt that would have given him a one-stroke victory over California’s Michael Block.
Broce, Block and likely the 500 other witnesses at the 18th green of the Dunes Golf & Beach Club thought the putt was in. It lipped out.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Michael,” Broce said. “He made all the plays he had to, especially over the last nine holes.”
At the second hole of a sudden-death playoff, Block made birdie to win.
“Our No. 1 player, Chris Selfridge, said to me, ‘You’d take a 19th-place finish and not even tee it up,’ ” Broce said, “and I said, ‘That would be hard to turn down.’ But I really want to win it. And I felt like if I was playing well, I’d have a chance. So to be able to have a chance the last nine holes was pretty special, and it was an experience I’ll probably never forget.”
Broce earned one of those coveted starting berths in the PGA Championship that are awarded to the top 20 finishers in the PNC. And though no one has to tell Broce how difficult the competition will be at Valhalla, he’s trying to keep everything in perspective.
“I know it might be hard to get to sleep that week, but I’m just going to try to be as relaxed and have as much fun as I possibly can,” Broce said.
Say this for Broce: He also has become a much faster learner.