Mini tour player donates first-place check to tornado relief

Mini tour player donates first-place check to tornado relief

Conrad_2008am_gettyWe interrupt our coverage of fragile, outsize egos and infantile feuds for this refreshing story of a young contender whose actions give us better things to talk about.

His name is Conrad Shindler. He is 24. And he played four years of golf at Texas A&M, where he starred on the 2009 national championship team. Since the fall of 2011, when he turned pro, Shindler has been competing on the developmental circuit,  carpooling with buddies, sleeping on couches, immersed in a Tour aspirant’s familiar grind.
On the face of it, he is like thousands of others: talented, driven, chasing a dream.

But here’s something that distances him from the field.
On May 20, when a tornado touched down in Moore, Oklahoma, Shindler had just completed a practice round for an Adams Tour event — the Gateway Buick GMC Classic — in Garland, Texas. He flipped on the TV to scenes of destruction.

“Seeing what had happened, it just broke my heart,” Shindler says.
Especially wrenching were images of Plaza Towers Elementary School, its roof and walls reduced to rubble. Seven children were reported dead.

“What I really wanted was to get up there and get my hands dirty helping,” Shindler says. “But I knew that wasn’t realistic. So I decided right then and there, anything I won, it would donate it.”

In his two years as a pro, Shindler has enjoyed moderate success. He has made a few cuts on the eGolf Professional Tour. He also Monday-qualified for this year’s Valero Texas Open, where he was mistakenly introduced on the first tee as Andrew Svoboda.
“It was pretty funny, a good ice-breaker,” Shindler says.

His winnings don’t come close to matching his expenses, but he’s gained a wealth of knowledge along the way.

“I know how lucky I am to be doing what I do,” he says.

At the Garland, Texas event, Shindler opened with a 7-under 65, followed by a 69 and two rounds of 66. He won by four, his first victory as a pro, and collected a $15,000 first-place check.

On the PGA Tour, $15,000 is private-jet fuel. On golf’s lower rungs, it is make-or-break money. True to his word, Shindler gave every cent away, signing over his check to a tornado-relief fund. In his pledge, Shindler says, he earmarked the money for Plaza Towers elementary.

“There are people who need that money a lot more than I do,” he says.
The way Shindler sees it, a long golf career awaits him. For now, what he has is conditional status on the Canadian Tour, where he’ll compete this summer, in the run-up to his third crack at Q-school in the fall.

“So many people have helped me get to where I am, in school, in golf, every step of the way,” he says. “But my plan is to keep moving up and to give back more as I do.”

On the course, Shindler says, he’s still learning. Already, though, he could teach golf’s biggest names a thing or two. Photo: Shindler at the 2008 U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst (Getty Images).