There was a time when Randy Leen thought he would spend the rest of his life playing professional golf.
He had good reason to believe it.
It was not just because he was a three-time Big Ten Conference player of the year at Indiana University. It was not just because he reached the final 16 in the 1996 U.S. Amateur or because he reached the semifinals in 1997 U.S. Am.
It was not just because he was low amateur in the 1996 U.S. Open, beating, among others, Tiger Woods. And it was not just because he played on the 1997 U.S. Walker Cup team that trounced Great Britain, 18-6.
It was all of the above.
Leen, a graduate of Alter High School, looked like a sure bet to make the PGA Tour in 1998 when he turned pro. Unfortunately, it never happened. He played in the tour qualifying tournament 10 times without success.
Meanwhile he played on mini-tours where the purses are relatively small. At the age of 32, he did qualify for the 2008 Nationwide Tour and earned $33,356 in 16 events but was 128th on the money list.
Leen isn’t certain why he didn’t get to the PGA Tour. “I had the ability,” he said. “I was a great putter.” He can only conclude that it just wasn’t to be.
In 2010, with a wife, one child and another on the way, Leen decided it was time to make a change when his sponsorship ran out. “Jen was pregnant with Jack, and traveling was starting to get to me,” he said. “It’s a tough road. Money gets tight, and it becomes very stressful.”
He would like to have been a golf instructor near his home in Port St. Lucie, Fla. but couldn’t find a place to teach. His agent asked Leen if he thought about medical sales. He suggested that Randy talk to a former football player who was working for a company that supplied artificial hips, knees and other such appliances.
That’s how Leen became a sales representative for Zimmer Edge in Deerfield Beach, Fla. Nowadays, when he isn’t calling on doctors to recommend his Zimmer products, he is often in hospital operating rooms supplying orthopedic surgeons with the sizes of the pieces they need.
“We’re all part of a team,” he said. “Everybody’s anatomy is so different.”
His sales area is from Stuart, Fla., north to Melbourne. He and three other reps work with 12-15 different hospitals.
Leen says he’s enjoying the job and enjoying spending more time with his wife and two children – a 6-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son.
“My days as a professional golfer are behind me,” he said. “I can’t imagine going back. You’re a part of your kids’ lives on a different basis. It’s kind of a blessing in disguise that my sponsorship ended in 2010.”
Speaking of his son, Leen said, “He’s into golf. Can you believe that? He’s got a great swing. He does things I haven’t shown him how to do.”
The only time Randy plays golf these days is when he plays customer golf with a handful of surgeons.
“Everyone asks me: ‘Why don’t you get your amateur status back?’” he said. “I called the USGA. It’s a two-year wait since your last check. I’m leaning toward doing it.
“The Mid-Amateur (Championship) next year is at John’s Island near Vero Beach. I got invited to play up there last Saturday. I liked the course, and I’d like to play in that tournament.”