Howard Herman | Designated Hitter: Former Eph Dethier chasing dream of being pro golfer
By the time the sun set on Friday, Brendan Hunter of Groton was the best amateur golfer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. But when the new Massachusetts Amateur champion and his 143 rivals showed up to play golf Monday morning, perhaps the most famous person at Taconic Golf Club was carrying a player's bag.
That's because Williamstown resident, Williams College graduate and best-selling author Dylan Dethier was asked if he could caddy and Dethier gladly obliged.
But for the native of the Purple Valley who turns 25 in October, his latest adventure is far more challenging than either playing in last week's tournament or writing another book. Dethier is trying to become a successful professional golfer.
"I don't know. I wanted to be a pro athlete since I was old enough to be playing sports," he said. "I thought I'd give it a shot.
"I thought I had enough talent at Williams to get it done, so I thought that maybe with a ton of practice, some time and more tournament experience, it would be a super, super small chance that I'd be able to do it for a career."
For those of you who don't recall Dylan Dethier as a local athlete, here's a quick primer. He was a multi-sport athlete at Mount Greylock, and took the mound for Mount Greylock in the 2009 state Division II baseball semifinal against Auburn. In that game, Dethier faced a freshman pitcher named Tyler Beede, who became a first-round draft pick and is a top prospect in the San Francisco Giants organization.
Dethier was captain of the Williams golf team in 2013-14, his senior season, and played for Taconic pro Josh Hillman. Dethier helped the Ephs clinch a Little Three championship, but they fell on stroke shy of winning a NESCAC title.
Before college, Dethier took a gap year as many students do. He spent the year traveling the country and playing golf in the lower 48 states. "18 in America: A Young Golfer's Epic Journey to Find the Essence of the Game" was an extremely well-received book.
"I loved '18 in America' and the connection I share with Dylan Dethier for both the game of golf and our country," is what PGA professional Jason Dufner wrote about the book.
If you haven't read it, you should most definitely pick up a copy. It is outstanding. But I digress.
Dethier isn't the first Williams graduate of recent memory to try his hand as a professional. Ethan Brooks walked off Weston Field and spent a number of years in the National Football League, Scott Farley was the last cut of the New England Patriots and played in NFL Europe, while Mike Mayer, Dan Wohl, Hayden Rooke-Ley and James Wang parlayed Eph hoop success into professional basketball contracts overseas.
"I turned pro the summer after I graduated, so it's been about two years now," said Dethier, a 2014 Williams graduate. "I've been playing on mini tours since then.
"I played in the Canadian Tour last summer. I'm just kind of working my game and traveling around a bunch. I'm playing some tournaments just for competitive practice to get more reps in tournament situations."
Dethier is seeking to become the first Berkshire County golfer to play professionally since Jim Salinetti of Lee spent seven years in Canada and on mini tours trying to crack the big time. Salinetti is now the pro at the Winchester Country Club in Eastern Massachusetts.
"There are a lot of guys doing it, and there are a lot of really good players," said Dethier, of trying to qualify, "which I don't know that I'm necessarily surprised by it. But seeing it in action is something.
"It's pretty wild, seeing how many guys can shoot under par. They can hit a 300-yard drive and roll in a 20-foot putt."
Last year, Dethier made a couple of cuts on the Canadian Tour, and is spending this year playing in qualifiers for PGA, Web.com, Canadian and other mini tours. But when I asked him for a signature round, he said it was his qualifying for the Canadian Tour last year. He didn't make money doing it, but he was happy with the result.
"It's really cool" playing in Canada, Dethier said. "It's not that different. It doesn't really feel like you're in a foreign country, but you get to see from Vancouver all the way to Nova Scotia. You get to see the entire country, cool cities. It's an incredible experience."
But when you get right down to it, it's all about playing golf and who can play best on the right days. Dylan Dethier is learning that lesson, which he hopes will serve him well.
"It's all about who can play well at the right time," he said, "and who can keep going back to it and back to it and can put together steady and under par rounds."
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.