It is called the Alps Tour and it is the European equivalent of the U.S.'s Nationwide Tour, a competitive but minor professional tour. The Alps Tour actually does not just play in the mountains and this week it came to Belgium, specifically to a course just north of Antwerp called
Sam had to play a qualifier to get into the main draw. He shot an excellent 73, tying for the second highest qualifying score.
In the main tournament, Sam was paired with two touring pros, an Austrian and a Belgian. The Austrian had earned less than 10,000 euros for the entire year. When the group reached the fifth hole, Sam was discouraged to hear the pros complain about how tired the were. "They didn't seem to be having fun," he said afterward.
The upside of this dispiriting revelation was how it convinced Sam that studies, not golf, should come first.
Another factor complicated Sam's play: my own illness. I drove him to play in the first round. I felt fine when we left Brussels. But by the time we reached the course in Antwerp, only a 45 minute drive away, I felt a terrible pain in my side. I had to be taken away in an ambulance to a nearby hospital. I thought I had kidney stones. But it turned out to be a tumor in my right kidney. When Sam came to see me after his round, we didn't talk much about golf.
Not surprisingly, he didn't make the cut.