2020 has been a crazy year. For me, it started in Lakeland, was driven back to Connecticut by COVID, and landed me in Philadelphia. For those that aren't aware, I spent June through October working as an assistant golf professional at Sunnybrook Golf Club in Plymouth Meeting, PA. My experience was, for lack of a better term, life changing.
My life has been all about golf for as long as I can remember. Practice, play, workout, eat, sleep, repeat. That's about it. My role at Sunnybrook gave me a new perspective on life, and showed me what I am capable of.
For starters, this was my first job. Sure, I worked as a caddy previously, but that didn't come with the kind of responsibility and expectation that becoming an assistant professional did. I went from carrying bags and cracking jokes to planning and executing 100 player events.
Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade a day at Sunnybrook for anything. It's simply amazing to me how much things changed in such a short period of time. When I left Lakeland in the middle of March, I was a very one dimensional person. I had no experience with creating connections with anyone other than the other athletes at my school. When I arrived at Sunnybrook my very first day, my job was simple; stand in front of the Pro Shop and introduce myself to anyone and everyone who came walking up. That was a long (but great) day.
Through the next 4 months, I learned new skills in communication. I was forced to re-evaluate the way that I interact with people. I learned to face problems head on and never shy away from a challenge. Much of this I already had some experience with, but this new lifestyle I was living took it to a whole new level.
I was thrust into a world I didn't feel comfortable in. And I learned to get comfortable. I was taught to be responsible, proactive, and inquisitive in a way that I had quite honestly forgotten. These values have already changed my life and made me feel more ready to face the next chapter, and I am so excited to continue to grow in my new home in Atlantic Beach, FL.
And of course, I can't forget about the friendships I made while at Sunnybrook. They started with just the professional staff, but before long I developed connections with other people at the club. From the kitchen staff to the membership, Sunnybrook felt more like a family than a job to me.
So this post is a thank you to all of the people that made my first year at Sunnybrook a great experience. Thank you for challenging me, for showing me there's more to life than just hitting a little white ball. Thank you for supporting me, and reminding me that life is a team sport. You all made me realize just how close I am to having everything I have ever wanted, and I am so grateful to each and every one of you. While this is my goodbye, it is only for now. I will be back, one way or another. A piece of me will always be loyal to Sunnybrook, the place where I finally grew up.
Welcome to the new and improved official website of Michael VanDerLaan. During the last few weeks, I have been hard at work, revamping and updating all of the information you find here and creating a place that is all things Michael the professional golfer.
For those of you that have been following me for years, welcome back. For those of you who are new to the community and to the team, thanks for coming on board! I am at the beginning of a very exciting chapter in my life that I am so excited to share with everyone. Now that the sports world is starting to come out of its COVID hibernation, I am getting ready to restart my chase for a PGA Tour card.
Since it’s been a while, let me fill everyone in on what’s been happening in my life. Following my victory at the NCAA Division 2 National Championship in 2019, I turned pro. My early days as a professional golfer were met with some success, and I immediately realized that I was doing exactly what I was always meant to do. That was a little over a year ago. In that span, I moved to Florida, began playing a heavier tournament schedule, and knocking on the door to earn my first start on the Korn Ferry Tour. And then COVID swept the globe.
In March I moved back home with my parents. I spent 3 months at home, practicing a bit but more often resting and letting my body heal. During my time in Florida, when I was doubling as both a player and a caddy at Streamsong Resort, I developed a number of minor injuries that required some time and attention. By the time I left home again in June, I was healed up and ready to go.
On June 13th, I began working as an assistant golf professional at Sunnybrook Golf Club in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. I am still at Sunnybrook now, wrapping up my last few weeks before I head back down to Florida for the winter. At Sunnybrook, I have had the chance to work alongside some wonderful people. I have made new friends, and learned a lot about the golf industry and myself. The whole experience has really helped me to grow.
At the end of October, I will be moving to Jacksonville to work on my game throughout the winter. I will be living with my best friend, Hannah Berman, and basing out of Sawgrass Country Club. It is a 27 hole championship golf facility that hosted the Players before TPC Sawgrass was built.
Moving forward, I will be providing periodic updates to keep you all informed about my life and what I am doing to move toward my goals. If you are interested in becoming a more active member of my team, I am always looking for partners to share my journey. You can find my GoFundMe page through the “Fundraising” tab in the menu, or send me a message via the “Contact” section.
Thanks for following along and supporting my journey, it’s going to be a wild ride!
Michael VanDerLaan is a professional golfer from Southbury, Connecticut. He is currently competing on mini tours throughout the United States and chasing his goal of being the world's number 1 ranked golfer. Michael currently resides in Jacksonville, Florida.