MOORE — Taylor Artman and J.R. Hurley, a couple of Norman North products, remain two of the best golfers this town’s produced over the last 10 or 15 years.
A couple of things make them particularly interesting.
One, they’re chasing the dream and, unless you’re living yours, just admit it; no matter how much money you make or have, you’re envious.
Two, though it feels like they’ve been around forever, they’re still very much rookies, on the ground floor of their professional golfing lives.
One more thing makes them particularly interesting this week.
In the midst of the Heartland Baseball Classic’s annual Norman run, and up against the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, taking place this week at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club, the OK Kids Korral Championship, an Adams Pro Golf Tour Series event, is going on at Belmar Golf Club.
It’s pretty much Artman’s and Hurley’s home course.
“I’ve hit every tee shot here a hundred thousand times,” Hurley said.
Over at the OU course, the USGA is hosting a national championship. The future of the women’s game is on display.
On the diamonds of Norman High, Norman North and Southmoore, future top collegians and, undoubtedly, a few future major leaguers, are showcasing their talents in a terrific event.
Over at Belmar, beginning today, a field of 100 or so pros and a few amateurs will be grinding for, among other things, meal money.
Each pro has ponied up $895 or $995, depending upon how early their entry arrived, for the opportunity to play for a prize pool in the neighborhood of $90,000.
The winner should collect around $14,000, the runner-up maybe $8,000 and next in line maybe $6,000. Many will miss the cut and make nothing.
Nobody’s at Belmar trying to get rich. Instead, it’s about treading water, staying afloat and keeping the dream alive on the way to Q-school or a PGA Tour or Web.com Tour Monday qualifier, anywhere a golfer might catch lightning in a bottle long enough for his life to change.
Artman and Hurley are hopeful.
“I finally feel like I have my game going,” Hurley said.
“I have very high expectations this week,” Artman said.
Hurley’s the older one, graduating in 2004. Injury slowed him, but he eventually found his way to Sam Houston State, graduating in 2009.
Since, knee surgery has taken him off the course and into the workforce for portions of the last two years.
He’s worked as a land man and he’s worked on his game and, right now, he’s got nothing but golf in front of him for the first time in a long time.
“I liked (working),” Hurley said, “but this is what I really want to do.”
He’s coming off making the cut and finishing 3-under par at last week’s tour stop at Peoria Ridge in Miami, the — get ready, it’s a mouthful — Buffalo Run Prairie Moon Casinos Classic.
His 34th place finish was worth $948, or about $150 less than it cost him to enter.
Artman finished up at North in 2007 before spending a year at Northeastern in Tonkowa. From there, he transferred to Oklahoma City University, where he sat out a year before playing three more years of varsity golf. Last year, finishing up his degree, he moonlighted as an assistant coach to OCU’s golf team.
He also dabbled in the Adams Tour, making four of six cuts despite having his attention spread in many directions.
“Finally golf is the only thing in my life for maybe the first time in my life,” he said. “I’m looking forward to not having anything else on my plate.”
Listening to Artman talk about hit, it’s clear he’s not just talking about it. He’s feeling it.
“I want it so bad,” he said. “I’m working harder than I ever have before.”
Both plan to be tour regulars the rest of the season — six more tournaments — before going on to Q-school, where some dreams come true, others are crushed and many more are put on hold.
Almost everybody on the Adams Tour has benefactors, though Artman is at least a momentary rare exception. Right now his backing is coming from his family. His plan is one often considered, but rarely executed.
“I plan on making some money here pretty soon and paying my own way,” he said. “I’m kind of counting on letting my game do the talking.”
If Artman feels the pressure to produce, he’s not alone. A few are playing with their own money, others are playing with others’ money. Everybody’s on the clock.
Nobody wants to be a mini-tour veteran.
Artman and Hurley may know the course better than everybody. Also, they might be feeling more than the usual cut-throat pressure that can’t be escaped living a mini-tour life.
“You try to go one shot at at time,” Hurley said. “There’s a little more pressure because you’re playing at home, so you really have to try to stay in the moment.”
It begins today and ends Saturday. The cut’s Thursday.
Hurley’s moment begins at 8:40 a.m. on the 10th tee. Artman’s begins at 12:40 p.m. on the 10th tee.
It’s a busy week.
There’s a national championship at the OU course and great baseball at area diamonds. Over at Belmar, they’re playing for their lives.
A couple of locals, who’ll take all the support they can get, hope to lead the way.
Follow me @clayhorning