For the past 14 years, Woodstock resident Bob Rossa has worked as a charter fishing captain on Lake Michigan. Between 1972 and 1980, though, he made his life as a professional golfer. He played on mini tours before leaving the game at the age of 29. Rossa still holds the course record at Turnberry Country Club in Lakewood (64) and once shot a 73 playing on one foot at Four Winds in Mundelein. His new season with Migrator Charters begins Friday.
It’s very tough [trying to make the PGA Tour]. It’s just one of those deals where you’re eating at McDonald’s on Thanksgiving. For every person people see on Sundays, there’s thousands and thousands of guys they don’t see who are trying to get enough money for the next tournament. They’re just seeing the best of the best of the best. I’ve shot 62, 63, 64, but it’s just a whole different world out there.
I’ve played with [Fuzzy] Zoeller and [Bruce] Lietzke, Bill Rogers and guys that have won British Opens and Masters. They’re spectacular. When you play with a guy and he makes every 10-footer, it’s just physically impossible [to keep up]. It’s one thing to shoot 67 or 68 at your home course, but you go to some of these places where the greens are like tile and you’re playing with the best of the best or we wouldn’t be there. Unless you played tournament golf when you were 6 or 7 like they do now, nothing could compare you for that type of caliber of play from everybody.
A lot of times, I regret bailing out when I was 29. A lot of guys don’t peak until they’re 30 and I got tired of traveling. I had a roommate in Florida once and he was the Florida Junior state champion and he went out on tour and it just physically grinded him out in a year and he became a salesman. If you can play, it’s one thing, but there’s that X factor that you just can’t put your finger on because if you could, you would and you would correct it. But being a good player is just one part of being a good tour player.
We got to be friends with a local club champion and we were having a few cocktails one night and he was saying how good he could play. I told him I could beat him on one foot. I ended up shooting 73. I had it at 1-under after four holes and he tried to play harder than he could. He must have shot 85. After you play long enough, you try and do some goofy stuff like that – Oh, I could hit it on one foot – and you try that.
[Fishing for a living] is just like golf. You shoot 66 one day and you have to go out the next day and do it again. Every day is a different day and you have to try to find the fish. Finding the fish [is more challenging] because my golf game is all about me. The buck stops here with me with golf, but with the fish, it’s different. The fish could be uncooperative, the weather, whereas with golf, it’s a constant, it’s just your own ability.
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