How Donald Trump helped Jim Herman become a PGA Tour winner

Jim Herman may be in Washington D.C. on Jan. 20 to see President Donald Trump sworn into office.

How Donald Trump helped Jim Herman become a PGA Tour winner

PGA Tour

How Donald Trump helped Jim Herman become a PGA Tour winner

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Ok, all you closet political pundits, gather around. Still wondering if your new U.S. president-elect is a smart guy? Well, PGA Tour player Jim Herman believes he is.

After all, it took only one round with Herman, then a club assistant, in New Jersey a decade ago for Trump to make a presidential-level decision: He would make Herman his frequent personal golf partner. And he also would convince him that he had the talent to be something special.

Herman, 39, has authored one of those feel-good stories that golf has a penchant to produce. He banged around unsuccessfully on the mini-tours and reached a tipping point that told him it was time to do something else, something with a steadier paycheck, all but leaving behind his lifetime dream.

Suddenly, though, you look up and Jim Herman, the guy who used to ring the register back in the shop at Trump Bedminster in New Jersey, is a PGA Tour winner competing in his sixth season on golf’s biggest stage, having banked more than $5 million in combined earnings on the Web.com and varsity tours.

Trump, soon to be the 45th president of the United States, played a significant role in Herman’s story, and Herman is proud to call him a friend. Trump was there with encouragement that bolstered Herman’s confidence and with his checkbook, too, helping to bankroll Herman when Herman finally got through Q-School having earned some Web.com Tour status in 2008.

“You’re looking for ways to survive out there, more and more, the cost of everything goes up,” Herman said. “He (Trump) was there. He definitely helped me out financially with some members down in Florida, and members up in (New) Jersey, as well. You never know.

“I can’t thank him enough for that support he gave me.”

Herman hasn’t been able to speak with Trump just yet (he’s been a little busy), but hopes to run into him this week at the manicured Mar-a-Lago Club, Trump’s tony Palm Beach playground, should the president-elect travel to Florida for Thanksgiving.

Herman has played plenty of golf with Trump, and when he does, the pressure and the adrenaline produce some sort of cocktail that somehow allows Herman to always summon his ‘A’ game. Presumably it must resemble something like the game he had on display at the RSM Classic on Sea Island, where he played solidly (69-66-66-69) and tied for 13th.

Herman says that rounds with Trump make for enjoyable days on the golf course. Trump frequently likes to insert a playful needle into his opponents (go figure). Herman is the quiet type, so he just keeps his head down and plays hard. The combination works, and usually makes for a winning tandem.

“It’s just a fun atmosphere,” Herman said, “usually not a lot of stakes other than pride. There’s not thousands of dollars or anything like that. No, it’s just bragging rights with him.”

How does Herman rate the President-elect’s game? Drives it well, hits his irons pretty well, and has “a great putting stroke.” Herman: “If there’s ever a putt to be made for the match, he usually made it.” Good ol’ Uncle Sam could use a guy with good golf nerves in the Oval Office.

Trump has been listed as having a U.S. Golf Association stroke index of 3.0. Asked if he would rate Trump’s game as that of a mid-single-digit handicap, Herman said, “When he plays the right tees. He’s older than I think he is. I keep thinking he’s younger, but he’s 70 years old. When he plays the right tees, he can get it around. He makes plenty of mistakes, like we all do, but he can hold his own and make some birdies.”

After four years on south Florida’s Golden Bear Tour more than a decade ago, Herman needed a change of pace. He took an assistant pro position at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and kept his game sharp by playing various events in the South Florida PGA section. When his college roommate decided to opt for a job with Titleist over an assistant’s job being held for him at Trump Bedminster, the roommate told Bedminter’s head professional, Mickie Gallagher III, about his friend in Florida, Jim Herman.

Gallagher had played golf with Herman, and phoned him to gauge his interest in the post. It was 2006.

“It was a good thing that he called,” Herman said.

Even while working as an assistant, Herman would plunk down a few thousand dollars each fall to try his hand at the PGA Tour Qualifying School. It took him seven tries just to get Web.com Tour status for 2008 (he advanced through second stage in Houston). He played 2008-10 on the Web.com and was a rookie on the PGA Tour in 2011, failing to keep his card. Not until his fourth PGA Tour season would Herman perform well enough to stay fully exempt, finishing 74th in the FedEx Cup in 2015. In April, in his 106th PGA Tour start, Herman broke through to win the Shell Houston Open. He was 42nd in the FedEx Cup race.

Trump was campaigning in Wisconsin when he learned his friend was in contention in Houston, and asked that the channel be changed so he could watch the finish.

When Herman won, Trump said, “I’m not surprised.”

Herman gets his updates on Trump these days through Gallagher, his friend and former boss at Trump Bedminster. He hopes soon that he will have some personal contact with Trump to congratulate him on what he views as an amazing accomplishment.

“He’s president-elect, and I’m very proud of him,” said Herman, who last spring, knowing the country was braced for an intense election, wisely switched out his “Trump” logo for one that simply displays the Trump club crest.

“He’s going to be good for the country,” Herman said. “I know there’s a lot going on right now. He’s got a big job ahead of him, but he’ll do a good job. … Let’s all give him a chance.”

What’s next for Herman? Well, the first week of January he’ll be on Maui, at Kapalua, to participate in his first Tournament of Champions. And if all goes well, a few weeks later, on Jan. 20, he hopes to be in Washington, D.C., for the Presidential Inauguration.

It’s what you do when your good friend is about to take office as U.S. president.

 

Trump, soon to be the 45th president of the United States, played a significant role in Herman’s story, and Herman is proud to call him a friend. Trump was there with encouragement that bolstered Herman’s confidence and with his checkbook, too, helping to bankroll Herman when Herman finally got through Q-School having earned some Web.com Tour status in 2008.

“You’re looking for ways to survive out there, more and more, the cost of everything goes up,” Herman said. “He (Trump) was there. He definitely helped me out financially with some members down in Florida, and members up in (New) Jersey, as well. You never know.

“I can’t thank him enough for that support he gave me.”

Herman hasn’t been able to speak with Trump just yet (he’s been a little busy), but hopes to run into him this week at the manicured Mar-a-Lago Club, Trump’s tony Palm Beach playground, should the president-elect travel to Florida for Thanksgiving.

Herman has played plenty of golf with Trump, and when he does, the pressure and the adrenaline produce some sort of cocktail that somehow allows Herman to always summon his ‘A’ game. Presumably it must resemble something like the game he had on display at the RSM Classic on Sea Island, where he played solidly (69-66-66-69) and tied for 13th.

Herman says that rounds with Trump make for enjoyable days on the golf course. Trump frequently likes to insert a playful needle into his opponents (go figure). Herman is the quiet type, so he just keeps his head down and plays hard. The combination works, and usually makes for a winning tandem.

“It’s just a fun atmosphere,” Herman said, “usually not a lot of stakes other than pride. There’s not thousands of dollars or anything like that. No, it’s just bragging rights with him.”

How does Herman rate the President-elect’s game? Drives it well, hits his irons pretty well, and has “a great putting stroke.”

Herman: “If there’s ever a putt to be made for the match, he usually made it.” Good ol’ Uncle Sam could use a guy with good golf nerves in the Oval Office.

Trump has been listed as having a U.S. Golf Association stroke index of 3.0. Asked if he would rate Trump’s game as that of a mid-single-digit handicap, Herman said, “When he plays the right tees. He’s older than I think he is. I keep thinking he’s younger, but he’s 70 years old. When he plays the right tees, he can get it around. He makes plenty of mistakes, like we all do, but he can hold his own and make some birdies.”

After four years on south Florida’s Golden Bear Tour more than a decade ago, Herman needed a change of pace. He took an assistant pro position at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and kept his game sharp by playing various events in the South Florida PGA section. When his college roommate decided to opt for a job with Titleist over an assistant’s job being held for him at Trump Bedminster, the roommate told Bedminter’s head professional, Mickie Gallagher III, about his friend in Florida, Jim Herman.

Gallagher had played golf with Herman, and phoned him to gauge his interest in the post. It was 2006.

“It was a good thing that he called,” Herman said.

Even while working as an assistant, Herman would plunk down a few thousand dollars each fall to try his hand at the PGA Tour Qualifying School. It took him seven tries just to get Web.com Tour status for 2008 (he advanced through second stage in Houston). He played 2008-10 on the Web.com and was a rookie on the PGA Tour in 2011, failing to keep his card. Not until his fourth PGA Tour season would Herman perform well enough to stay fully exempt, finishing 74th in the FedEx Cup in 2015. In April, in his 106th PGA Tour start, Herman broke through to win the Shell Houston Open. He was 42nd in the FedEx Cup race.

Trump was campaigning in Wisconsin when he learned his friend was in contention in Houston, and asked that the channel be changed so he could watch the finish.

When Herman won, Trump said, “I’m not surprised.”

Herman gets his updates on Trump these days through Gallagher, his friend and former boss at Trump Bedminster. He hopes soon that he will have some personal contact with Trump to congratulate him on what he views as an amazing accomplishment.

“He’s president-elect, and I’m very proud of him,” said Herman, who last spring, knowing the country was braced for an intense election, wisely switched out his “Trump” logo for one that simply displays the Trump club crest.

“He’s going to be good for the country,” Herman said. “I know there’s a lot going on right now. He’s got a big job ahead of him, but he’ll do a good job. … Let’s all give him a chance.”

What’s next for Herman? Well, the first week of January he’ll be on Maui, at Kapalua, to participate in his first Tournament of Champions. And if all goes well, a few weeks later, on Jan. 20, he hopes to be in Washington, D.C., for the Presidential Inauguration.

It’s what you do when your good friend is about to take office as U.S. president.

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