Life is good when you are a card-carrying member of the PGA Tour. But for those trying to get there that’s not always the case. James Hahn was once between those two worlds. How so? First, some background.
Hahn has two career PGA Tour victories and won over $11 million in his career, but his route to the big tour wasn’t an easy one. Hahn, now 39 and a Tour veteran, once had jobs as a shoe salesman and at an advertising agency, among others, as he tried to subsidize a career in golf.
When he was still struggling on the Canadian Tour in 2008, he decided it was time to start taking his journey seriously or to get out. Hahn was this week’s guest on GOLF’s Subpar Podcast, and he told co-hosts Drew Stoltz and Colt Knost that it was at the 2008 Edmonton Open, sitting in his rental for the week, when he checked his credit card and bank account and had less than $200. He said he spent too much time goofing off, missing cuts, partying on the weekend and not practicing the right way.
So he decided to change. He finished eighth that week and made enough money to help with travel for the next event. Recommitted, he turned his year around and kept his card for the next season. A year later he was back at the same house for the Edmonton Open, hoping he made good on the promise he made to himself.
“It was something I thought about every single day and it pushed me and pushed me,” he said. “Almost to the breaking point of like, I don’t know if I can do this, but I just kept making the sacrifices to be able to afford a season on the Canadian Tour.”
And then … he won. A year after he decided to recommit, Hahn won the 2009 Edmonton Open and took home the $24,000 check. It gave him the confidence (and funds) he needed to chase Q-School and earn his Nationwide Tour card the next year.
But, before he did all that, he needed to celebrate that big Edmonton win (which is the whole point of this story, remember?). The next stop on the schedule was the Saskatchewan Open in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, so Hahn and his friends hit the road. Once in town, he was feeling generous.
“I’m like, ‘Guys, look, I had a really good tournament last week,” Hahn told them. “I won, let’s just celebrate. Dinner is on me; I’m picking up the tab.”
According to Hahn, the waiter at the restaurant stopped at their table and they exchanged pleasantries. The waiter commented that they looked like golfers. Hahn asked for a bottle of tequila for the table.
“I’m not sure how much a bottle cost,” Hahn said. “I didn’t even ask. Probably like a couple hundred dollars. He brings out a bottle of tequila, and then the next round he brings out another bottle of tequila and says, ‘Fellas, it looks like you are having a good time, thank you for coming to my restaurant, this one is on me.’”
Hahn, however, was still riding high from his victory. (Perhaps too high.)
“And I’m a little slurry at this point, and I’m like, ‘Nah, don’t worry about it! I can afford a bottle of tequila, man. I’m so rich I can buy this whole bar. I can buy this whole restaurant! And he was caddying for [Canadian Tour player] Andres Gonzales at the time, and he goes, ‘Umm, actually, sir, I know exactly who you are. I know what Tour you play on, and yes, you cannot buy this bar. Please take this bottle of tequila.’” [Laughs]
The waiter correctly called Hahn’s bluff. But at least Hahn got a good story out of it. You can check out the rest of the interview below.