Chris Paisley is good at golf. Like, really good.
The 36-year-old Brit played his college golf at the University of Tennessee, where he won twice. In 2009, he played on the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team alongside Tommy Fleetwood. Later that year, Paisley turned pro and began working his way up the European mini-tour ladder. By 2013, he had graduated to the DP World Tour and five years after that won his first DP title, beating Branden Grace by three strokes at the BMW SA Open. Paisley’s world ranking climbed into the top 80.
Of late, though, things haven’t been going so swimmingly for Paisley, because, well, yeah, golf is hard.
Paisley’s last top-10 finish on the DP tour came 16 months ago, at the 2021 Hero Open. His stat line since then: 36 starts, 33 missed-cuts, one withdrawal. In the two events in which he did advance to the weekend, he finished T71 and T72.
“Professionally it was the worst year of my life,” Paisley wrote of his 2022, in a lengthy reflection he posted on Twitter this week.
Pros have bad years all the time. That’s golf. But few players express their feelings about their struggles as candidly as Paisley did in his eight-paragraph message, which reads more like a diary entry than something a Tour pro would typically share with the world.
“I have lost my playing rights on the DP World tour for the first time since my rookie season in 2013,” Paisley wrote. “I couldn’t have imagined just how badly [my season] would go, and the dark places it would take me. I genuinely felt as though I was done as a golfer for a large part of the year.”
Later, he added: “Ultimately, I think this will prove to be the most important year of my career. It has been filled with harsh lessons that I suppose I need to learn. I have been lucky as a professional to have never really experienced that much adversity.”
The cause of Paisley’s woes: “really big” swing changes, he said. And in this admission, there is learnings for golfers of all levels. “I went too far away from my natural game,” Paisley wrote. “I lost my identity as a golfer, and became lost as a result. It’s so important to fully understand how YOU swing the club, play the game, and what processes work for you. The goal should be to become the best version of yourself. To stray too far from your natural disposition is career suicide, at least for me.”
Paisley’s tough 2022 landed him in DP World Q School, the final stage of which concluded Wednesday in Spain. He showed signs of life in the six-round grind, carding four rounds in the 60s. Still, with only the top 25 plus ties earning cards, Paisley’s T51 finish wasn’t good enough. Was he bitter? Far from it. And this is what’s most remarkable about his soul-baring: how much grace and optimism he exhibited.
“With the help of my incredible family and team I am starting to play some good golf,” he wrote, “and I can now see a path to what will hopefully be the best golf of my life.”
You can read Paisley’s entire reflection here: