At the beginning of 2022, Callum Tarren harboured the same dream as thousands of golfers: playing on the PGA TOUR.
Twelve months later, he’d realise that dream, qualifying from the Korn Ferry Tour to the PGA TOUR, though that dream was quickly turning into a nightmare.
Tarren earned his card around the same time as becoming a father for the first time, but found life on the PGA TOUR was a big step up.
“There were quite a lot of ups and downs,” said Tarren. “We had our first child in August 2021. I flew back from the regular season when my fiancée gave birth, I was home for two days then flew back out for the Korn Ferry Finals and got my card after two weeks.
“But I went from the ultimate high of getting my PGA TOUR card and having our first child to missing my first eight cuts on the PGA TOUR. I dug deep in the second half of the season to retain my card and now have a full card.
“I had a good start to this season, finishing second at the RSM which set me up for a great schedule for the rest of the year where I can hopefully get into the top 50 in the world.”
Tarren found himself in the uncomfortable position of potentially losing his card after just one season on tour, but after a solid showing at the US Open, the man from Darlington played nine straight events without a break to retain his card.
“I think I led the US Open for almost 30 holes which gave me a massive confidence boost for the rest of the season, particularly as I didn’t have many FedEx Cup points then,” said Tarren.
“But my good form continued to the rest of the year.
“It wasn’t always the plan [to play nine straight events] but the position I found myself in, I had to grind it out. I made peace with [potentially losing his PGA TOUR card].
“It worked out; I almost played my way into some good form and golf felt easy at that point, but you know what it’s like with golf, it’s ups and downs and I managed to do something not a lot of people manage to do. To miss the first eight cuts of the season and keep my card gave me a lot of confidence coming into this season.
“At the end of the day, no one wants to miss the first eight cuts of a season but it could only get better from there and it did.
“I knew where I was on the FedEx Cup standings throughout the year and if it meant I had to go back to the Korn Ferry, I made peace with it.
“But on the flip side, I know I’m good enough to play out here, so I had to keep grinding it out and the tide changed and I put some good results together.
As a second-year PGA TOUR player, Tarren’s first objective is to become a third-year player, but he’s got much bigger plans beyond that.
“The ultimate goal out here is to win," said Tarren. "I’ve proven that I can play out here and winning out here is the ultimate, and then on the back of that, finishing as high as possible in the FedEx Cup, and with the new changes coming in, you’ve got to be in the top 50. There’s a lot of pressure to get there but I’ve had a good start to the season.
“There’s some huge events coming up this year so I’ve got to plan my schedule, peak at the right time and take my opportunities when I play.
"I got to the FedEx Cup play-offs but didn’t get past the St. Jude, but the plan this year is to get as far as possible and hopefully all the way to East Lake.”
East Lake would be a far cry from Tarren’s beginnings as a pro playing in China before the Korn Ferry Tour, and he admitted at the time, an invite to Sawgrass felt a long way away.
“One of my friends from the north east, Michael Skelton, an ex-Walker Cup player, was playing a round of golf with me at Seaton Carew and I asked him what his plan was next year,” said Tarren.
“I’d just turned pro and he said he was going to China for Q-School. I knew nothing about it but did some research and ended up making a last-minute decision to sign up.
“I went to Q-School and finished third, managing to get myself a full card for that season. I ended up playing three years out there. I won the Money List in 2018 to get to the Korn Ferry Tour and then I had three years there.
“In between having our first child, I managed to get my PGA TOUR card through Finals in 2020.
“It did feel far away, but that was almost the fastest route from a feeder tour to get to the PGA TOUR because it was the PGA TOUR of China that had a pathway through to the Korn Ferry and then PGA TOUR, so it’s an unusual route for a European player to go down.
“There were probably two or three other English guys out there but it worked out. China was great for my golf game, four-round events, good competition. We all dream to play on the PGA TOUR and I managed to get here.”