The Keys to happiness

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Every sentence he spoke was punctuated with laughter. Every intonation in his cadence, every syllable stressed was extended with glee. 

You couldn’t tell it, but Zack Sucher has missed his chance at earning Nationwide Tour status or a PGA Tour card for the 2012 season. Yet when we spoke, there was no hint of sorrow or regret in his voice.

Zack Sucher is a happy man.

Perhaps it’s because he recently spent time in the Florida Keys with his wife Courtney, a vacation he claims was the highlight of his year. Or perhaps it’s because Christmas came early for Zack – he and Courtney already exchanged gifts. Perhaps it’s because Zack is currently in Mobile, Ala. spending the week with his mom, dad, brother, sister and Courtney.

Or maybe, just maybe, Zack Sucher understands the key to happiness doesn’t come from sinking an 8-footer or blasting a drive 330 yards. Zack knows that whether he ever makes it onto the PGA Tour or not, his life will be defined by the moments he spends with the people he loves.

That’s not to say making an 8-footer for birdie on 18 to make the cut on the number goes unappreciated in Zack’s book. In fact, that’s exactly what he did at the Mexico Open earlier this year in June. That event – and the 8-footer – was a pivotal moment in Zack’s career and his 2011 season.

“If I hadn’t made the cut there I wouldn’t have gotten into the next six (Nationwide) tournaments. … I knew I had to make that cut, I knew that was going to be one of my last chances,” Sucher said.

As chance would have it, Sucher finished the Mexico Open T-54, which moved him up the ranks for the Nationwide Tour reshuffle, ultimately helping him get into more events later in the season. Sucher played in six Nationwide Tour events following Mexico and made the cut in four.

Zack’s best Nationwide Tour finish was a T-32 at the Price Cutter Charity Championship and his lowest Hooters Tour finish was T-2 at the Charter Childhood Cancer Awareness Classic.

While Sucher only secured $31,000 on the season across both tours, he says the lessons he learned on the road this year are invaluable.

“I definitely learned a lot going forward. I learned what to expect. Playing with the guys (on the Nationwide Tour) who’ve been out there for 10 years and knowing you can compete with them makes me know I belong out there,” Sucher said.

Zack’s never been afraid of a difficult shot or afraid of making a big number. He’s self-admittedly a tad bit too aggressive at times. Zack recalls many occasions trying to pull off a shot and coming up short. But the difference going forward isn’t that he won’t try those improbable shots. The difference is he’ll attack them with complete confidence. That is, after all, the thing he says separates him from the guys who are out on the Nationwide Tour and PGA Tour week in and week out.

“Play with confidence. The more confidence you play with, the better you’re going to end up playing. The guys I’ve seen play great this year are the ones who play with the most confidence.

“Don’t hit stupid shots but play aggressive. I need to be aggressive and go for it more. But at the same time you shouldn’t hit a shot you may only be able to pull of one in 20 times, but the key is to play smart, aggressive golf,” Sucher said.

A wise outlook for what will be another year packed with tournaments on the National Golf Association Pro Golf Tour – formerly the Hooters Tour – and Monday qualifiers for Nationwide events.

Off the course, 2012 may bring new additions to the Sucher family. Zack and Courtney say baby fever is becoming ever more present.

“We’re more and more ready for kids. They’re definitely not too far in the distant future. It’s not going to be too much longer I don’t think,” Zack said.

While not every week can be an excursion to the Keys or a trip home surrounded by family, Zack isn’t planning to spend the remainder of his winter in hibernation. He has plenty of fun-filled weeks ahead that include spending Christmas with his in-laws and after the new year, heading to Utah with his father, brother and wife to visit five national parks.

Zack is more aware now than ever before of his abilities on the golf course and what it’s going to take to succeed. A fortuitous career on the professional golf circuit is undoubtedly what he has his sights set on. But should he fall short, he knows the true key to happiness lies within himself, and the family and friends who give his life meaning.