September 12th, 2013

The road less travelled


It will continue to do so in the years to come and a major reason being that despite the continuation of the global economic crisis, the PGA Tour have managed to lock in sponsors to 7 million USD on a weekly basis.PGA Japan 2-3 million USD every week and Asian Development Tour 500,000 USD every week which is a professional tour for young aspiring golf players. The US PGA Tour is ‘The Big Show’ is the “Broadway Show”

The financial gains, along with the long-term benefits continue to be of more significance in the United States. The European Tour is gradually closing in and there’s no question that the hierarchy of their Tour have done a magnificent job of promoting their tour over the past decade. It continues to expand into more unfamiliar regions thus growing and promoting the game globally.

For the up and coming player dreaming of a life succeeding on the world stage in professional golf, the United States still stands head and shoulders above the pack though. But what happens when one turns professional and all those years spent dreaming of their ‘ticket to ride’ in America quickly becomes more of a ‘pipe dream’?
For various reasons, the player realises that reaching the pinnacle of our game is a much more difficult process than they ever imagined. In recent years, the majority of our younger golfers have chosen the ‘safety’ options.

What do I mean by ‘safety’?

In one phrase – comfort zone! This safety zone could mean remaining in Europe where they’ll attempt to carve out a living playing the odd pro-am in towns where the standard breakfast is 5 euro. Another part of the safety zone is the relatively new, emerging Challange Tour. Players get to compete for decent prize money but with the schedule still developing, earning a profitable living can be a difficult task.

The last part of this equation is that the player will choose to fly to the United States and attempt to grind out a living competing on the various ‘mini tours’ across the country my personal experience and example the "Golden State Tour" and “Tear Drop Tour” in California.

The mini tours allow the golfer to remain in one place for the span of a few months whilst never having to commute more than an hour to each venue. The Tear Drop Tour in Arizona which I played as well in conjuction with Golden State Tour sees golf professionals playing in golf carts, wearing shorts, using range finders and some even listen to their radio's in between shots. It leaves some asking if it’s this really professional golf?

A lot of the younger players from Europe(UK,Scotland,Ireland) or Australia choose to go to America because it is an easy place to be. The language is the same, the exchange rate is almost identical, driving around is relatively simple and American women don’t mind an European or Australian accent. You may laugh but it’s all based on fact.

Back in the 80’s and 90’s when I played, it was common practice for Australian players to play a relatively full schedule in Asia my example Johny Walker Cup 500,000 USD purse.Example; Thailand to be in those years a Full PGA member and playing rights for 300 USD.FUNNY TIMES
For players who manage to gain status on a particular ‘feeder’ circuit for a season – the Web.Com Tour, European Challenge Tour and Japanese Challenge Tour, by all means I recommend playing that tour and obviously the rewards are there should the form warrant it. Each one of the aforementioned tours is a true indicator of what life in the ‘big show’ is like.

But anyone beginning the season without status to play any major tour, and believe me this is the majority, I suggest you attempt to learn the ropes as a professional golfer in Asia or America.
Even The Alps Tour which winds its way through some more remote regions of Europe, is a great opportunity to find out how well suited you are to dealing with the daily rigours of life on the road and it also affords the player the opportunity to leapfrog his way on to the European Challenge Tour.
One characteristic of successful individuals in business or golf that I have noticed over the years is that they aren’t afraid of adapting to change. They are always up for the challenge of something new and exciting and if nothing else, toughing it out for a season in countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, Morocco, Swaziland and Kenya not only provide great life experiences but also bring out the best in one’s character.

In addition, the golfer will learn how to become more independent and deal with adversity in a more composed manner.
Us professional golfers are very fortunate that we have so many options as to where we play our trade and of course circumstances can dictate our approach to travel schedules.