Mike McFeely column: It's easy to root for Doeden

You root for Andy Doeden not because he's a helluva golfer, which he is, but because of things like this: It is an hour or so after the conclusion of the Forum Communications Co. pro-am at Fargo Country Club on Monday and Doeden is relaxing o...

You root for Andy Doeden not because he's a helluva golfer, which he is, but because of things like this:

It is an hour or so after the conclusion of the Forum Communications Co. pro-am at Fargo Country Club on Monday and Doeden is relaxing on the patio in front of the clubhouse.

A female member of the club approaches Doeden and asks him how he is doing, what he is doing, what shape his game is in, and so on. Then she gets to the nitty-gritty.

There is a ladies' day event coming up soon and she was just wondering if, well, if Andy could show up and maybe talk a little bit and hit some drives and ...

"I'll be around, yes," Doeden says.


"So I can call you later and set something up and plan on you doing this?" she asks.

"I promise," Doeden says.

And the female member walks away happy, knowing she has Andy Doeden -- with all his skills and all his charm -- to make her ladies' day event something special.

That is why you root for Doeden to take his game to the next level this fall when he tries to qualify for the PGA Tour.

Not just because he's got game, which he does, but because he understands what his role is as Andy Doeden, Fargo's favorite golfer.

He is a young man people seek, and he smiles and accommodates them.

Doeden shot a two-under par 70 to win the amateur portion of the pro-am, which included a 31 on the front nine. That is good.

He shot 39 on the back nine. That is bad.


If Doeden hopes to make it through the grueling three stages of the Tour Q-school, where many try and very few succeed, he's going to need to shoot 31 more often than 39.

"I've been to a few Tour events this semester and I think I'm getting a feel for it," said Doeden, who recently completed his college career at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. "I'm gaining confidence. I've talked to some of the players about what I'll need to do and I think I've got what it takes. If I commit myself to it, hopefully I'll be out there."

Here is the plan: Doeden will play in a couple more prestigious national amateur events this summer, then play the Pine to Palm in Detroit Lakes, Minn., then attempt to qualify for the U.S. Amateur.

If he makes the U.S. Amateur and wins it or finishes runner-up, his plans to turn pro will be put on hold. That's because the U.S. Amateur champ and second-place finisher get exemptions to next year's Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. They are exemptions that are yanked if the golfer turns professional.

If Doeden doesn't make the U.S. Amateur or doesn't finish first or second, he will turn pro and make the North Dakota Open at Fargo Country Club on Labor Day weekend his first play-for-pay event. Then he will try the qualifying school later in the fall.

"Golf is the easiest sport in the world to become a pro," Doeden said. "You wake up one day, send in some paperwork stating your intention to be a pro, and you're a pro."

If he beats the odds -- and, frankly, they are extremely long odds -- and makes it through Q-school and finishes in the top 15, the rest is easy. He has a year's exemption on the PGA Tour.

If he simply makes it to the third stage of qualifying school he'll at least gain some status on the Tour, the Triple-A of minor-league golf.


And if Doeden doesn't make it that far? Then things get a little more dicey. It's the world of mini-tours and scraping for $500 paydays.

"If I don't make it I'll go back to school and finish the first semester and explore my options," Doeden said. "There are so many places to play, a lot of good mini-tours. I'll probably play the Gateway Tour in Arizona, just because all the tournaments are around Phoenix and that really cuts down on the amount you have to travel. Everything is right there."

The question is, does Doeden have what it takes to make it as a professional? He believes so. The big-time college and amateur schedules Doeden played have given him the confidence that his game is good enough to cut it against the best in the world. He's talked with former college teammates and gained knowledge from them.

"The thing when you're a professional is to take it day to day, tournament to tournament. Anything can happen. There are so many opportunities out there that you have to keep at it. One day, one tournament, can change your life," Doeden said.

And if he can't quite do what needs to be done?

"People are always talking about the pressure of qualifying school and the pressure of professional golf. I don't look at it that way. I have other things in my life. It's not the end of the world if I don't make it on the PGA Tour," Doeden said. "I have a great family, great friends, a great girlfriend. I have the support I need. If I don't make it as a professional golfer, it's not the end of my life.

"Pressure just isn't an issue for me. You look at all the things going on in the world right now and you just have to be happy we live where we live and we have the opportunities we have."

A potential pro athlete with a sense of what's happening around him and how little his sport means in the grand scheme of things?


That's why you have to root for Andy Doeden.

Readers can reach Mike McFeely at(701) 241-5580 or

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