News & Opinion

Agent plays Western for talent close-up

NORTHFIELD, Ill. – If you don’t play golf for a living, it can be difficult to relate to what a professional golfer goes through inside the ropes.

The pulled tee shots, missed greens and three-putts are easier to comprehend if you play the game at a higher level versus a casual match with friends, when those missteps occur often and usually with comparatively little riding on a double bogey or worse.

Putting a pencil in someone’s hands to write down the true score – not the one you think you should’ve had – is a maturing and humbling experience.

Sports agent Jay Danzi, a partner at William Morris Endeavor, experienced that sort of competition during the past two days in the 116th Western Amateur at Sunset Ridge Country Club in Chicago’s northern suburbs. Although his competitors aren’t professionals just yet, Danzi found the experience against the world’s top amateurs to be humbling.

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Jay Danzi makes a quick exit from the Western Amateur but not before he gains some insight about golf’s next generation of talent.

MORNING READ/ALEX MICELI
Jay Danzi makes a quick exit from the Western Amateur but not before he gains some insight about golf’s next generation of talent.

Danzi, 43, who played college golf at Dartmouth, knew that he would not make the professional grade. A combination of a broken right wrist from playing college basketball as a sophomore and, in a self-appraisal of his golf potential, “a lack of talent” pushed him in a different direction.

“I knew how good they had to be because I competed at those levels, so I knew my game,” Danzi said. “I wanted to work on the business side of professional golf rather than trying to do it, because it is a hard road.”

Yet, his ability to continue to play golf at a high level helps make Danzi one of golf’s top agents. He can relate on a somewhat comparable level to his client Jordan Spieth as well as potential clients coming out of college.

“Whether it's caddieing for a player – I caddied for Jordan [in 2016 in Singapore] – or to be inside the ropes and compete, I see what they see and I feel what they feel,” Danzi said. “I feel the nerves more than they do, and I feel the stress more than they do. So, it definitely gives me a perspective, and it also gives me a chance to be out here and see the kids in a different way.”

When he was starting as an agent, Danzi played amateur golf as a recruiting tool. The tournaments also provided a close-up ability to evaluate a potential client’s intangibles in the game.

Now, the competition helps Danzi to relate to elite golfers, to feel what they're feeling, and provide a reference point for him.

Traveling from the British Open to Chicago was not the best way to prepare for his two days at the Western Amateur. He shot 76-80 and, at 14 over par, missed the cut for the low 44 to advance to today’s third round of stroke play in the medal/match event (scores).

What part of his game does Danzi need to work on?

“A lot,” he said. “Some short game, figuring out when to put the pedal down, when to be smart.”

Danzi still can drive the ball far enough to compete with the elite amateurs. The challenge rests in getting the other parts of the game working in concert.

“It's an honor to be here,” Danzi said. “I still love to compete, and I wasn't able to do a lot of practicing, certainly, but it's just a dream to come out here and still try to compete and see all the young players and to do it.”

Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email: alex@morningread.com; Twitter: @AlexMiceli