How do professional golfers get to play on the USPGA Tour? For most they have to learn their trade on the smaller tours before they graduate to the "Big Show" as the USPGA Tour is known.
Last week I spent at the Riviera Country Club working with Michael Sim and observing the talented Aaron Baddeley win his third victory and ending a four year drought for the talented Aussie.
This week I am spending 3 days in Scottsdale with one of my young players Rance De Grussa who is just starting out his pro career on one of the numerous mini golf tours. This tour is called the Gateway Tour and is two levels down from the USPGA Tour. It is based in Arizona & California and it allows aspiring young professionals to compete and learn how to score under pressure.
It is based in Arizona & California and it allows aspiring young professionals to compete and learn how to score under pressure. The courses are not overly tough but the standard of play especially at the top end is very high. In todays field their were two ex USPGA Tour players and half a dozen Nationwide Tour (second tier tour that feeds the main tour). There are over a hundred players who put up US$1,400.00 each week which in effect is they are playing for their own money. The total purse is US$100,000.00 with the winner taking home over US$20,000.00 and the rest dividing up the rest on a sliding scale.
This was Rance's first tournament on the Gateway Tour and he played well today shooting a 4 under 68 which included 2 penalties. He signed his card and was surprised to find the leader had shot a 10 under 62. Second place is 63 and Rance's 68 did not even get him into the top 10. He is tied for 11th position. A very steep learning curve for a young pro but this is where you find out if you have the game and self belief to make it. Expenses including entry fees are between US$1500.00 to US$2,000.00 per week.
So over a ten week period if your game is off or not up to the mark you could be US$20,000.00 in debt. Rance does not have a sponser like most of these aspiring Pro's and has worked hard at two jobs in Perth (personal trainer & storeman) and with help from his parents to make this trip and "Live the Dream".
I caddied for him today and was impressed with his short game and his ability to stick to a game plan throughout the round.Yesterday I spent time on the range working with him on organising the mental side of his Pre Shot Routine so that he could freewheel it today out on the course under pressure.
I have got him committing to "Train like he Plays" so that he can "Play like he Trains".
Early start tomorrow and another good performance from the "Rookie" on tour is the plan.