A PGA professional who turned down a professional football contract to pursue his dream career as a golfer is facing the biggest test of his fledgling career.
Paul Nessling, 24, used to get a lift to training at Sunderland FC with fellow academy player Jordan Henderson in a battered old Fiat Punto belonging to the now Liverpool and England star’s mother.
Yet when his desire to train faded, he soon realised that football was no longer the game for him and turned down a full-time contract at 18 to switch his attentions to reaching the pinnacle of golf.
This year Nessling faces the biggest playing test of his career so far, the Glenmuir PGA Professional Championship.
The tournament, which is the flagship event for club professionals in Great Britain and Ireland, will take place at Blairgowrie from August 5-8.
As well as taking home the lion’s share of the £78,700 prize fund, the winners will secure the use of a car from support sponsors Peugeot for 12 months and claim a place in the Titleist PGA Play-Offs at Antalya Golf Club in Turkey later this year.
The tournament also marks the start of the qualification period for the PGA Cup, a biennial matchplay event competed for between the leading club professionals of Great Britain and Ireland and the United States.
“I’ve had a really good two weeks in the region leading up to the Glenmuir, so I am going in feeling good and quietly confident,” Nessling explained.
“Ideally I’d like to get into the top 10 I think. It’s an event everyone wants to do well in, although I have to admit this will be my first time at Blairgowrie.
“Last year, four or five of the PGA Cup team came from the south region. These are guys that you play with regularly and you want to be doing the same as them and playing in big events like the PGA Cup. Obviously in years to come I’d love to be playing on tour and things like that.
“I’m working hard on my game – I was probably better at football than I am at golf! But football was never the sport for me. I was going into training and I just wasn’t interested. I just wanted a career in golf.”
Hastings-based Nessling is an assistant professional at Cooden Beach Golf Club and has a coaching attachment to Beauport Park Golf Club.