'Good' chain propels Josh Teater to emotional PGA TOUR return
5 Min Read
Back-to-back top-seven finishes to conclude Korn Ferry Tour Finals and crack top 30 on Points List
Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin
If professional golfers were asked to name their peers whom they’d call for help in a pinch, Josh Teater would be a popular selection.
Teater, 44, lends his support no matter the situation, whether it’s to congratulate a fellow pro on a dramatic victory at his own expense – he has undergone narrow losses in recent years to both Viktor Hovland and Adrien Dumont de Chassart – or to offer encouragement to the first player out on a Sunday, like he did for Chris Naegel at last month’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, meeting Naegel off the 18th green as he readied to begin his own round.
Teater doesn’t shy away from his emotions either, a point of differentiation in a golf world often comprised of clichés. Case in point: following the third round of the season-ending Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance, Teater met the media after a third-round 64 that moved him into a share of the 54-hole lead and meant he would have a strong chance to earn back his PGA TOUR card on Sunday. Midway through the interview, Teater took a moment to compose himself, his eyes welling with tears, as he thought to good friend Nick Mingione – University of Kentucky baseball coach – and Mingione’s impact on his mind frame in recent weeks.
Prior to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, the season’s penultimate event, Teater and Mingione devised a “Good” chain – a literal chain with corresponding lettering – that would be earned “if you compete and you commit to your shots and do what you’re supposed to do,” Teater explained. It provided an intangible incentive to put in the work – a natural deterrent to complacency.
The “Good” chain facilitated intentional preparation, and the results were immediate. Teater finished seventh at the Nationwide to move to 34th on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List, on the precipice of earning back his TOUR card via the top 30 after the Korn Ferry Tour Championship.
Teater finished the job with a final-round 74 at Victoria National in the most pressure-packed of circumstances, good for a fifth-place finish and a jump to No. 26 on the final Korn Ferry Tour Points List.
It means Teater is #TOURBound once again.
“You get in some positions out there and you can get down real quick, and I just told myself, ‘Hey, I’m not gonna do it,’” Teater said afterward. “I haven’t been the best at that at times through my career, and sometimes it makes a huge difference, and I was enjoying whatever was going to happen. I think I looked at the board when I was teeing off on 12, and I think I saw I was projected 31st (on the Points List) and I said, ‘Good, let’s go earn it.’
“This is the goal at the beginning of the year. Obviously didn’t want it to come down to the last day, but it made me stronger in the end, so it was a good fight … It feels great; so happy. So thankful for all the support from everybody.”
Teater has made 220 career PGA TOUR starts, highlighted by runner-up finishes at the 2013 Farmers Insurance Open (to Tiger Woods) and at the 2020 Puerto Rico Open (to Hovland). The Kentucky native has made an impact on countless around the professional game – including Jamie Frazier, a Hooters Tour peer from the mid-2000s, who made the trip to southern Indiana to support Teater over the weekend. It’s why when the 30 Korn Ferry Tour graduates were announced in a ceremony on the 18th green Sunday afternoon at Victoria National, the roar for Teater was unquestionably one of the loudest.
“Going to those (Hooters Tour) events, at that time I didn’t know a whole lot of people, and he would reach out to me and take me under his wing,” Frazier recalled Sunday. “You won’t find a better person, someone to be an uplifting person and encourager, the kind of guy everybody wants to be around.”
The professional game has meant a lot to Teater, but at times it has been unclear whether the game has loved him back. There were times missing at Q-School in the mid-2000s when he wondered whether this was definitively the career for him. As recently as 2021, after falling short of a TOUR card via the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, he expressed uncertainty regarding whether he’d give it another crack on the Korn Ferry Tour.
The game was continually getting younger, Teater knew, and he was approaching his mid-40s, a married father of two. The travel and grind of the professional game – as fun as it is – can take a toll. But the thing that kept him coming back, both as a young mini-tour pro and now as a wily veteran? He still believes he has better golf in him. With that being the case, he couldn’t live with himself if he threw in the towel.
“They’re all so good physically on the golf course, so you have to find something that can separate you from other people, and I think he found that in the last couple weeks and really pulled from that,” said Teater’s wife Ashley. “To be his age and the grind that he has always had … you try not to make it your life, but it is your life, and we’re thankful that he gets to do that because he loves it, it’s his passion and he is so good."
The love and emotion in Ashley’s voice were palpable, as she readied to watch her husband take the stage and receive his PGA TOUR card once again.
“I’m just happy that all of his hard work and his determination, and his never giving up, has paid off again,” she continued, “and we get to give it one more try.”
Teater is a family guy through and through. After clinching his card Sunday afternoon, he was just as happy to discuss his son Brooks’ flag football team’s victory that afternoon, happily sharing pictures of Brooks in full uniform. (Brooks’ team, the Bills, fared better than the squad’s NFL namesake that day.)
The Teater family is headed back to the PGA TOUR, with another opportunity to pursue that elusive TOUR title. If he gets it done, the congratulatory messages will overflow.
If not? Life, like the chain, will remain good.
Kevin Prise is an associate editor for the PGA TOUR. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.