He’s 27, so neither can you call him old. But there was a time, not long ago, when he felt like one famous definition of “over the hill.”
It goes like this, in a song called “Old Folks Boogie” by the rock band Little Feat: “… When your mind makes a promise that your body can’t fill.”
It was the fall of 2007, and the three-time All-America golfer at Saint Martin’s University was sick and tired when he wasn’t tired and sick.
He wanted to play golf. But he couldn’t.
The diagnosis, when it finally came, was coccidioidomycosis, better known as Valley Fever. Before it could be identified, and treated, it changed Prante’s life. It pushed his golf career to the back burner.
He has modest golf goals for this summer, with bigger ambitions down the road. Mainly, he’s playing golf again, which was no guarantee less than three years ago.
Prante paused to talk last week during his usual morning practice session at Tumwater Valley. He tries not to miss a day – putting, chipping, lots of bunker work, and if he has time he plays nine holes before work.
When he got sick, Prante’s life, which had been largely about golf, had a simpler context: survival.
He was living in Scottsdale, Ariz., and at first the symptoms – dry heaves, weakness, fatigue – seemed like a recurrence of a painful torn chest muscle.
The doctors thought so, too, and prescribed a painkiller. All that did was make him sick, and he wasn’t getting any better.
He was newly married, and his wife, Kristyn, thought he was going to die on her after two months of marriage
Prante finally met up with a seasoned specialist who was able to diagnose what other doctors hadn’t: Valley Fever, a potentially lethal fungal disease.
Even after the anti-fungal medicine started working, he felt weak and tired. It was not until the summer of 2008 that he could start playing tournaments again.
He did some caddying at Whisper Rock Golf Club in Scottsdale. Among his clients were former Vice President Dan Quayle, John Elway and the Manning brothers, Peyton and Eli.
He found, he said, that helping other people get around the golf course brought an unbiased perspective to his own approach to course management.
“It was a cool experience,” he said.
An encouraging step on the road back was his victory last October at the Budweiser Tri-City Invitational tournament at West Richland Golf Club. He shot a pair of bogey-free 63s to pocket $11,000, and earned another $2,000 in the pro-am.
He hadn’t played much golf in the months before the Tri-City tournament, so he put all his attention on the event.
“I was mentally focused,” he said. “It made up for a lack of a lot of rounds.”
The money helped seed the war chest he’s building with an eye toward returning next year to the full-time pursuit of a toehold in professional tournament golf.
He can call himself a professional golfer, but he’s got a couple of jobs that pay the bills. He’s a teller at TwinStar Credit Union, and he also works some nights at Brewery City Pizza.
Meanwhile, other guys that were his local contemporaries through junior golf and into college – Ryan Moore, a winner on the PGA Tour; and John Cassidy and Andres Gonzales, card-carrying members of the Canadian Tour – are out there chasing golf paydays.
“It’s a little frustrating,” he said, “not toward them, but it’s not always easy. I sort of look at it as it’s not my time yet.
“There’s guys everywhere I look that I know I can play with.”
The hot young thing has adult responsibilities … and a fresh appreciation for golf.
“I’ve rediscovered the kid-like fun of getting to play,” he said.
Yasue Alkins of Lacey, the defending champion at the WSGA Senior Amateur, finished in third place in this year’s edition at The Cedars at Dungeness in Sequim, last week.
Alkins had rounds of 73, 77 and 80 to finish at 230, 14 strokes behind winner Alison Murdoch of Victoria, B.C. Lisa Smego of Olympia finished alone in ninth with scores of 82-82-78–242.
Jared Bossio of Olympia finished alone in eighth place at the WSGA Men’s Amateur. Bossio sandwiched an opening-day 68 and final-day 70 around rounds of 76 and 80 to finish at 294, eight strokes behind champion Jeremy Wendelken of Sammammish.
In the same tournament, John Eisentrout of Olympia (79-76-79-77–311) finished tied for 16th, and Tom Lewis of Olympia (79-81-76-76–312) tied for 26th place.