Many golfers have the dream of playing golf professionally. While a tiny number of golfers succeed others don’t quite “make the cut”. In a massive understatement you could say that I fall into the latter category. I’ve made a few decisions lately with some counsel from my coach but more on that later. What’s life like chasing the dream while playing Mini-Tours?
There are several ways that golfers approach this dream. For many, the chase begins at a very young age where most often a golf club is much larger than the little golfer themself. As they get older, the parents put their children into golf lessons under the watchful eyes of a coach. From there the “cookie-cutter” process begins and eventually the child is introduced to competition through the likes of U.S. Kids Golf or associations like the AJGA or CJGA. No matter what the development has begun much like a 7 year-old hockey player playing Novice hockey at a Triple-A level. They have a goal of playing in the NHL. Most of these young golfers do as well with their eyes focused on the PGA or LPGA Tour. A little further down the road they play high school golf and if all goes well coaches from different college and university golf programs have taken notice. Inevitably, they graduate high school and pursue post-secondary education while playing golf at a college level. With collegiate play under their belts they focus to life as an adult and maybe just maybe they make it to the professional tours. Through playing golf at their club the membership base supports their endeavors by raising tournament fees or sponsors enabling them to enter tournaments. Perhaps a star is born and they turn into the next Jordan, Rickie, Justin, Lexi, Lydia or Brooke. In some cases it’s not quite as glamorous and I can tell you first hand that it isn’t.
In my case, my approach was as unorthodox and off of the grid as you can get. Regardless, I played and all of this was done while battling a swing change. Playing through a swing change is tough enough. You have doubts if something doesn’t feel right and then you revert back to what you were doing before. Playing in competition while doing so is sadistic. Playing through health issues while all of that is going on is even worse. When compared to the pressure of playing while spending grocery money on entry fees knowing that you’re taking food out of your family’s mouth is by far the worst kind of pressure that you can face. This was the kind of pressure that I placed onto myself every time that I teed it up and I’m sure that didn’t help matters. Nobody made me do it as I simply did it to myself. I’ve always been private about finances and I’ll continue to be but I will say that without some sort of financial backing chasing the dream is damn near impossible. In a case like the GLT in order to have any hope of getting your money back you had to finish Top 5 (roughly) otherwise you were simply a donor. I only teed it up as a professional because I wanted to get my money back. The payouts in a word suck at this level. For a one day event in 2012 on the Great Lakes Tour here is a rundown of the costs….
Tour Registration Fee – $300 (whether you play in 1 or 10 events… nothing massive)
Tournament Entry Fee – $230 (low-end of the scale)
Practice Round – $100 (more with cart)
Hotel Accommodations – $100 (low-end… most events were about 2 hrs away with 7:30 tee times)
Fuel and Food – $75
So if you were to add up each event it’s easy to see that per event it roughly costs $500/event. In the grand scheme of things it’s nothing when compared to other Mini-Tour’s like the Florida Pro Golf Tour. Their entry fee alone is $575 USD for a Non-Member. A Mini-Tour like the SwingThought Tour is $1400+ USD for registration and another $700 USD per event. Unlike the Great Lakes Tour (when I played) these other tournaments at least offer a two or more day tournament. Basically, if you’re paying out of your own pocket you need those pockets to be very deep. Supporting yourself to play is high stakes gambling in a nutshell. To play in these Mini-Tour’s not only do you need game, experience and decent health. You need the money!!
My decision under the advice and counsel of my coach. Over the last couple of years I haven’t played much golf and none of it was competitive. Between being a Director Of Golf in 2016 (50-60 hour weeks led to a total of 53 holes played that year… not rounds) and of course many health issues in 2017 all led to a lack of play. Although, I did get out a fair amount in 2017 my game simply declined and it wasn’t until November/December when I finally felt things start to click again. With my lack of play and age being a factor (wrong side of 45) I’ve decided to take a step back from playing against the kids out there. These kids coming out of college and university pipelines are long and good. As a soon to be 46 year-old looking at a kid 20 years younger you know when “the time” comes. It’s something that I experienced when I was playing hockey and baseball. While you can’t worry about what they’re doing and you aren’t playing directly against them it does get into your head when they blow by you by 50 yards and have a wedge left to the green and you have a 5-iron left into the same green. It also doesn’t help when your caddy is stammering on about their drive.
What I’m not saying is that I’m finished pursuing competitive golf. In fact, I’m now turning my focus onto bettering myself and my game. It’s the reason why I’ve been a diehard about getting into the gym and working out. I have a checklist of goals and I am proud to have reached some already…
- Lose weight √
- Get stronger √
- Identify and correct where my struggles on the course are √
- Play more golf (I need much more though) √
- Quit tinkering with my swing
- Play competitive golf again
- Get back to enjoying the game more
My plan over the next 4 years is what the plan was all along. It’s always been about when I received my golf vasectomy and turned 50. Anything between then and now was a very expensive learning experience. I’m going to play tournament golf as an amateur and develop a playing resume over the next 4 years through a couple of avenues. Perhaps focus on the Mid-Am and/or Mid-Master Divisions. But if there is one thing that I do know it’s that I’m not finished yet. #golfvasectomy
Until The Next Tee!!