Practice.

Lots and lots of practice.

Shawn Warren, who will graduate this winter from Marshall University in West Virginia, is getting a quick lesson this summer on what it’s like to be a professional golfer. “Practice” is a word he finds himself using a lot.

“I probably put in an eight-hour day, two hours of that working out,” Warren said. “Then it’s just six hours a day at the course, whether it’s playing 18 holes, or chipping and putting. It used to be, as an amateur, it was for fun, and I’d go out and play and not really practice. Now, you have to put in the time, because if it’s something you want to do in the future, it’s something you have to treat as a job.”

After four years as a collegiate golfer, Warren officially turned pro this summer. His resume in Maine is already complete: Maine Junior Amateur champion (2000 and 2001), Maine high school champion (2002), Maine Amateur champion (2006), Maine Open champion (2005) – all as an amateur.

This year, Warren goes into the Maine Open looking to do what only the late Jim Veno has done – win the Maine Open as both an amateur and as a professional.

His first summer as a professional hasn’t exactly been an easy one. In his first event, the Portland Open, Warren expected to contend. The tournament was at Riverside Municipal Golf Course, where Warren had always played well, and it was on his home turf, so to speak.

But an injury – a cracked orbital bone three weeks before the tournament – changed that.

“It was probably the most traumatic thing I’ve been through in golf,” Warren said. “It made me appreciate a lot of the things I had, because it can be taken away that quick.”

He missed the cut after one week of practice.

“The only thing I’ve had a problem with, really, were the muscles around (my eye) being injured,” Warren said. “The eye doesn’t shut as much as it should in the sun, and it waters a lot and things get a bit blurry.”

But at three other tournaments, Warren has played well. He finished fifth in the New Hampshire Open, and ninth at the Greater Bangor Open. He also made the cut at the Rhode Island Open, but had a bad final round.

Still, Warren is optimistic about his chances this week.

“I feel like the course sets up well for me, and having last year’s experience and knowing a little bit more about the course, I feel a bit more comfortable,” Warren said.

This fall, Warren heads back to school to finish his undergraduate degree. In December, he plans to move to Florida, where he’ll – you guessed it – practice.

“I’ll play in a few tournaments down there, but practice a lot, and possibly go to Canadian Tour Q-School in the spring,” Warren said.

After the summer season in New England, it’s back to the South, and PGA qualifying school.

“Unless you go to Q-school every year, there’s no point in playing professional golf,” Warren said.

“To jump around to different mini-tours and just scrape by, that’s not really a good way to live.”


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