CHASKA, Minn. (WCCO) -- Eric Chiles, the director of instruction at the Chaska Town Course, couldn't believe it when he qualified for this week's senior PGA Championship.
"I was baffled because I've had a lot of bad things happen," he said.
His wife had a similar sentiment.
"Of course she was waiting for bad news, probably. And I just looked at her and I was like, I pulled it off," he said.
Chiles graduated from Minnetonka High School. He currently lives in Excelsior. For years after playing Division II golf at Ferris State, he held on to the PGA Tour dream. But got a rude awakening at a nationwide tour event, when he saw tour regulars' drives hadn't peaked where his were stopping.
"So it was about '06 when I decided, hey maybe this playing thing isn't gonna work out. So I got way more into instruction. Which is a lot easier," Chiles said with a laugh.
Chiles has been the head of instruction at the Chaska Town Course since 2008. He has developed his own teaching tool named the "Chiliwhacker."
When he turned 50 last year, Chiles became senior tour eligible. Arriving at Harbor Shores in Michigan this week, he's getting a taste of the life he dreamed of.
"We go into the locker room and my locker is next to K.J. Choi and Darren Clarke. It's like wow. that's pretty cool," Chiles said.
From teaching to playing for a major. Chiles is the only club pro from Minnesota in the field at the Senior PGA Championship.
"Realistically it's probably a once-in-a-lifetime deal, as much as I'd like to get back for the next five years. So yeah, everybody's just kind of saying, enjoy it," he said.
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