Jeff Warden is fulfilling a dream by moonlighting as a golfer.
The assistant football and baseball coach at Prairie Grove, Ark., did a good job of it Thursday, shooting a 3-under par 69 during the first round of the Buffalo Run Casino Classic.
That left him in a 15-way tie for 36th, and more importantly, left him in a position to make the cut in the NGA Hooters Tour event at Peoria Ridge Golf Course.
“It’s a dream to come out here and play golf for a living,” Warden said.
Six birdies, including five on the back nine, countered three bogeys during his round on Thursday.
“I think I missed two fairways all day,” Warden said. “When you are hitting it long and finding fairways, you know you are going to be OK. I missed a couple short putts and it could have been a low number. I am tickled with that. It’s my low round of the year.”
But then, his “year” has consisted of only three rounds.
He missed the cut at last week’s Bentonville (Ark.) Classic after posting rounds of 82 and 79.
“I could have gone lower today,” he said. “I missed four greens from inside 120 yards. I saved par on a couple of them. I hit the driver great all day.
There was no missing the 6-5, 265-pound Warden during Thursday’s round: he was wearing a bright yellow shirt and black and yellow pants.
But that might be expected — one of his sponsors is LoudMouth Golf, a California-based clothing retailer whose products live up to its name.
He’s also lined up Miami-based MoRodz and Piranha Golf as sponsors.
“They are all taking chances on someone who hasn’t ever proven himself,” Warden said.
Warden said he usually would practice every day before school and during lunch.
“We finished school on Friday (June 7) and was playing a practice round at Bentonville on Tuesday with really no practice time,” Warden said. “I played terrible … missed the cut, badly. Then I came over here with not much more practice, just a little better attitude.”
He will be starting his fifth year at Prairie Grove.
The football team finished 5-7 last fall.
“We’ve got a great underclass coming up,” he said. “In a couple of years, we will be state contenders in 4A.”
The Tiger baseball team, which started five freshmen, lost in the state semifinals to Shiloh Christian of Springdale.