Stefan Wears-Taylor was studying for a bachelors degree in education at North-West University in Potchefstroom 18 months ago when he had a light bulb moment.
“I’ve played golf my whole life, started when I was three years old, and I couldn’t sit in a classroom any more,” the South African told Golf Digest Middle East after spending a year focused on maths and biology. “I want to stay working in the game forever.”
Life sorted, Wears-Taylor asked a mate working in Dubai to keep an ear to the ground for golf opportunities across the UAE and soon found himself manning the pro shop at Al Zorah Golf Club six weeks after the Nicklaus Design course opened in Ajman.
The 20-year-old is now a year through his PGA apprenticeship and is playing some tidy golf to boot. On Tuesday Wears-Taylor won his third event of the 2016-2017 UAE PGA season, edging Gavin Sutherland (Jumeirah Golf Estates) in a playoff at Trump International Golf Club Dubai.
So is a career inside the ropes on the cards, or will it be teaching? Or maybe golf management?
“There’s always the dream of taking it [playing] further but as long as I stay in golf, I’ll be happy,” Wears-Taylor said.
“I’m not sure which will bite first, teaching or management. I got very lucky [landing the shop attendant role at Al Zorah] and I’m very happy out here, especially working for Troon International. That just widens your opportunities.
“Then again, being a player [touring pro] can also take you around the world but I’m just enjoying what I have at the moment. We’ll see how it goes.”
Wears-Taylor clearly has game. He negotiated the 7229-yard Trump Dubai in one-under 70 on Tuesday, mixing birdies on the 2nd, 7th and 9th with bogeys on the 5th and 11th.
Sutherland applied the blowtorch in the playoff with a tight approach to the first green but Wears-Taylor responded, sticking his second to 12 feet before holing the putt after Sutherland’s own birdie attempt slid by.
It comes after wins in October’s Patrons Pro Am at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club and at The Track, Meydan Golf the following month and has seen Wears-Taylor creep up to fourth place on the order of merit.
He’ll miss Monday’s penultimate strokeplay event in Al Ain but will have home club advantage on his side for the season-ending UAE PGA Tour Championship at Al Zorah on May 1-2.
Dubai Creek teaching professional Cennydd Mills, a five-time winner this season, finished solo third at Trump to remain atop the overall OOM standings ahead of Sutherland while UAE PGA chief executive Steven Munro is third.
Munro will defend his Tour Championship title and also remains in the hunt for the UAE PGA Matchplay title. He meets either David Gray (DG Golf) or Tom Henderson (JGE) on April 25 for a place in the final later that day. Defending champion Callum Nicoll (Abu Dhabi GC) plays Rory Young (Al Ghazal) in Tuesday’s other semifinal.