- PGA Tour rookie Tom Whitney’s first event is in his home town of La Quinta
- Whitney, an Air Force veteran, last played in the PGA Tour back in 2018
- DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news
PGA Tour rookie Tom Whitney isn’t sweating the start of the 2024 season. As an Air Force veteran and former nuclear missile operator, the consequences of a misfire on the links is considerably less consequential than a mishap at his old job.
Besides, as a card-carrying member of the PGA Tour, Whitney has a bit more job security than when he first played The American Express in his hometown of La Quinta, California six years earlier.
‘There was more pressure coming here in 2018 on a sponsor’s invite,’ said Whitney, a graduate of La Quinta High School. ‘Now, I was chatting with my caddie earlier today, and it feels like I belong out here. I’ve earned my way to hold this card.’
The married father of four plays for the memory of his older brother and fellow Airman, Bob, who died by suicide four years ago. Tom Whitney uses his brother’s Air Force dog tag as a ball marker.
‘I think the timing is perfect,’ Whitney told reporters. ‘God’s got me right where I’m supposed to be. Yeah, just looking forward to entering my prime.’
Tom Whitney recently qualified for his first PGA Tour card after playing on the Korn Ferry Tour
Whitney, left, with his wife at the Air Force Academy and, right, with his late brother, Bob
Whitney is pictured with his wife and four children before returning to the PGA Tour this year
Whitney also uses an Air Force Flacons head cover when he plays, which serves as a reminder of just how far he’s come.
After playing collegiately for the Falcons, Whitney served in the Air Force for four years as a nuclear missile operator. According to DesertSun.com, Whitney was the person who the president could call when it was time to launch a major air strike on a foreign country.
‘Golf is just what I am currently doing, and I’m completely blessed to do it,’ he said Tuesday, as quoted by DesertSun.com. ‘But I could still be in the Air Force, at a place I don’t want to be.
‘I could be in harm’s way. I could be fighting enemies. I’ve lost friends and loved ones in the armed forces. I have friends that are deployed. And I’m here in Palm Springs with two miles per hour wind, 75 degrees, getting paid to play these fantastic golf courses. Absolutely, I have a different perspective.’
While Whitney considers himself lucky to be playing professional golf, he admittedly does miss the Air Force at times.
‘It’s not a sexy job while you’re doing it, and at times it can not even be very enjoyable,’ he said. ‘But I’ll tell you, it didn’t take very long after I separated and left that job and started golf full-time to where I missed it. I completely misgauged what I had, and you think the grass is literally greener as you’re entering the career of golf, and, man, I had it easy.’