For Noah Horstman, it always has been about playing the game.
Even as an active career in the golf industry has taken him down a myriad of roads — assistant pro, head pro, director of instruction, college coach — the former South Medford player hasn't lost the desire to play and compete at the highest level.
Now, at age 29, that ambition, for the most part dormant since he left behind an all-star career at Pacific University, has been resuscitated.
"That's always been the plan, that's always been the dream," says Horstman. "We'll see how it works out."
Horstman moved to Cleveland three weeks ago to become director of instruction at Beechmont Country Club. He'll work there five months out of the year, then he and his wife of two years, Kimberly, will move for seven months to a house they bought in Mesa, Ariz., where he'll continue to teach and play the All-American Gateway Tour, the top mini loop for those aspiring to make the PGA Tour.
He'd been working in the Salem area since the fall of 2007, mostly at Illahe Hills Country Club.
At Beechmont, he's an independent contractor, so he'll be able to practice and play whenever he's not teaching.
He'll also play PGA section events — there are weekly, one-day tournaments in the area — open tournaments and plans to try to Monday qualify for Web.com tournaments.
Horstman is well aware of the quality of play it'll take to realize his dream. It often requires a score in the mid-60s to qualify on the Web.com Tour.
"Isn't it ridiculous how competitive it is now," he says. "It's great. It's so good for the sport. If you're not out there working on your game eight hours a day, you're behind the curve. If you don't have a swing coach and a fitness trainer, you're behind."
With as much instruction as Horstman has done, he's as in tune as ever with his own swing, he says. He's also fit, having become certified as a Nike Golf 360 trainer.
Horstman will play his first professional section event on Monday.
Horstman wasn't looking to make a move. He occasionally checked out a professional website to see what jobs were out there. Rarely did instructional positions pop up. But when he saw the Beechmont listing, he became intrigued.
He interviewed over the phone, then flew out to see the area and play the course. It was built in 1923 and hosted the Cleveland Open, which debuted in 1963 with a victory by Arnold Palmer.
"Right away, that little bit of history caught my attention," says Horstman.
"It's a great facility," he adds. "The membership is very active. They take a lot of lessons and want to get better. It's the right move at the right time at this point."
And really not so far-fetched.
Horstman has more than a dozen relatives on his father's side within 20 miles, and Kimberly is from Michigan, just five hours away, and attended Michigan State.
There is a bit of a Big Ten rivalry there.
Horstman has been a lifelong fan of Cleveland pro teams — the Browns, Cavaliers and Indians — and says he was "born with a Buckeyes shirt on my back," referring to Ohio State.
The day he arrived in Ohio, he watched the Indians beat the Oakland A's. Later, he saw them earn a walk-off victory over the Seattle Mariners.
Working two jobs in two parts of the country seems about right for Horstman, who has been a go-getter since he was picking balls at the Bear Creek driving range at age 12 and washing carts at Stewart Meadows before he could drive.
After graduating in 2006 from Pacific, where he was all-Northwest Conference, he took a job coaching South Medford's golf team for one season and worked as an assistant at Centennial.
It was then on to Salem, where he was an assistant at Illahe, took over as the Willamette University men's coach for four years, became the head pro at Oak Knoll, then returned to Illahe, where he was interim head pro, then director of instruction again.
"It's hard to leave Oregon and all our friends," says Horstman.
He'll see them again, he says, but for now, this was an opportunity he couldn't pass up.
JASON ALLRED HAD quite a week-plus leading up to securing a spot in the Web.com Tour's Mid-Atlantic Championship in Potomac, Md., this week.
He put together four quality rounds and tied for second place in an All-American Gateway Tour event — the Arizona-based mini tour that attracts high-level talent — then he emerged from a large field to Monday qualify for the Mid-Atlantic.
Of the five rounds in the tournament and in qualifying, two were 66s and one was a 67.
In the Gateway event at McCormick Ranch in Scottsdale, Ariz., Allred, who has conditional status on the Web.com Tour, had rounds of 71, 69, 66 and 67.
The 15-under score left him two behind winner J.J. Spaun. In the final round, Allred carded six birdies and a bogey. He closed with birdies on two of his last three holes.
After the tournament, Allred headed to Maryland for Monday qualifying. At Northwest Golf Club, he shot another 66, and all that got him was a nine-way tie for first. There were only six spots available from the field of 156, so they went to a playoff. Allred made a 12-foot birdie putt on the first hole to earn his way in.
Just getting into the playoff necessitated some heroics. He went eagle-birdie on his last two holes.
Have a local golf story idea? Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email email@example.com