Max Greyserman’s American dream: Achieving PGA TOUR stardom amid adversity
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Written by Adam Stanley @adam_stanley
Max Greyserman’s journey to the PGA TOUR is nothing compared to what his parents endured coming from war-torn Soviet Union.
“The story of the American dream,” Greyserman said, “is my family.”
Greyserman stands at No. 11 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List with just two events remaining in the 2023 season, his top-30 position now secure. A PGA TOUR card for Greyserman is his own dream achieved.
Greyserman’s parents grew up in what is modern-day Ukraine. When they lived there, it was part of Russia’s Soviet Union, and they grew up under Russian heritage. His parents, although not together at the time, both moved to New Jersey when they were teenagers and met while in college.
“It was a dark time in their lives,” said Greyserman, who played collegiately at Duke University. “They left everything they had.”
Greyserman’s parents were both only children, so around the holidays the family get-togethers are usually relatively small. However, there’s a group of about 50 fellow immigrants from eastern Europe, all Russian speakers, who have been like family to the Greyserman group. He went back to Kiev once and saw the little apartment his mom grew up in. They didn’t have much.
After getting to America, his parents thrived. Greyserman’s father holds four university-level degrees, including a PhD, while his mom played tennis at Rutgers University. Greyserman’s wife, Alyssa, also played college-level tennis (“Dad married a college tennis player; so did I,” Greyserman said with a laugh) and now works for a major music-streaming service.
Growing up, Greyserman’s parents instilled the value of hard work. He played a bunch of sports as a youngster, with the athletic bone in his body coming from his mother. He tried out so many sports, he admitted, because his parents’ long-term goal was for him to be able to get into college on the back of his athletic ability.
“They had no idea if their child was going to be a pro golfer; it was more if I was just good enough to get into college,” Greyserman said.
He, perhaps, is underselling his success as a youngster. The first time he broke par was when he was 9 years old at PGA National in West Palm Beach, Florida. He shot 71. Greyserman would often tee it up against older kids – playing on the high school team when he was in middle school, and playing against senior-level golfers when he was a freshman.
Golf became part of Greyserman’s life after a family trip to Florida from New Jersey one winter. His parents saw flyers for free golf lessons from an instructor; Max watched and was hooked.
After a solid collegiate career at Duke, Greyserman turned professional, although he admits now he wasn’t quite ready for that pro-golf grind in his first year on PGA TOUR Canada.
“I had the work ethic, but did I have the skill set coming from college? Did I have the mentality to be a professional? I don’t think I did,” Greyserman said. “I think I learned that from myself, from practicing with my coach, and from having that PGA TOUR Canada schedule.”
Greyserman earned Korn Ferry Tour status for the first time in 2019 and regained his card through the COVID-impacted, 2020-21 combined season. In 2022, however, he played only seven events before being sidelined with a wrist injury.
Greyserman had often battled his wrist since high school, and the constant stress put on it finally forced him to get surgery. He put it off for as long as he could, but he couldn’t bear the pain any longer.
“(The injury) was probably something that wouldn’t bother a regular weekend golfer. You pop an Advil and go play. But as a professional golfer those small differences can be huge,” Greyserman said. “(Surgery) was definitely frightening. Just knowing that this is your job and your goal in life and ... potentially you won’t play again.
“That was definitely something that crept into my mind. Will I never play golf again?”
Through his recovery effort, Greyserman even went so far as to go into his brother-in-law’s office to look at a few things in real estate. He didn’t think that he was done with golf, but taking an office job was certainly in the back of his mind. He’s friends with Ben Griffin – Griffin went to the University of North Carolina while Greyserman was at Duke – who famously worked as a mortgage loan officer for half a year before returning to pro golf and earning a PGA TOUR card.
“I was trying to think of things outside of golf to broaden my horizons,” Greyserman said. “Fortunately, we’re back playing golf.”
And he’s playing better golf than he ever has.
Max Greyserman holes out for eagle at Simmons Bank Open
Greyserman finished inside the top 15 on the Korn Ferry Tour in three of his first five events in 2023. He also has two runner-up results this season – at The Ascendant presented by Blue and the Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Aetna – and will play a PGA TOUR schedule for the first time. In fact, his only PGA TOUR start came at the U.S. Open in 2017.
This year’s U.S. Open champion, Wyndham Clark, was Greyserman’s roommate in Las Vegas at one point. Greyserman saw Clark work hard at the mental side of the game to unlock his full potential, and it was inspiring.
“(Earning a PGA TOUR card) is something I’ve worked towards my whole life. But it’s something I thought I wouldn’t do at times,” Greyserman said. “Belief and self-doubt is something I’ve struggled with in my career because I put in … so much time and effort but I was always good, wasn’t always ‘great.’ Good in high school but I wasn’t the best. I was good in college, but I wasn’t the best. It was always about believing in myself and as I continue to compete and realize that I can compete with anyone out there is what is going to help me get over the edge here.
“I’ve had people around me tell me how good I was, but I don’t know if I truly believed how good I was. I believe I was close.”
Greyserman needn’t wonder or question his belief anymore. He’s #TOURBound, and his own American dream is real.