"Despite being based in Sydney where many of the tournaments are held and being able to minimize a lot of my expenses through billeting with amazing host families in other states I still lost money in both seasons as my golf expenses (flights, hotels, hire cars, caddie fees, tournament fees etc) were around $6,000 for the 2 month periods."
Like a lot of aspiring female professional tour golfers, I have dreams of mixing it with the world’s best on the LPGA Tour and winning big tournaments along the way. I’m a self-confessed golf junkie, those who know me will testify that I literally live, breathe, eat and sleep golf and always need to ensure I keep things in balance.
I’m addicted to self-improvement and have a love of numbers and statistics, sometimes to my own detriment in tournaments, as I start focusing on scores and scenarios instead of staying in the present.
The excitement that comes with competing can be quite exhilarating and what I love about the game of golf is that for the most part, I’m the one in control of my success and failures. I really enjoy playing in front of crowds, it seems to help me sharpen my focus and there is no better pressure than having lots of eyes on you whilst you try to execute and pull off a difficult shot.
It’s often said that the career of a professional golfer is a marathon, not a sprint and in much the same way I view the journey of improving in this game similar to picking up a jagged, unshapely rock that over time is polished and sculpted into perfect form, function and appearance.
I turned professional in November 2014 at the age of 34. Whilst that is considered pretty late to be embarking on such an endeavour, I came to the realisation a couple years ago that life is too short to not chase your dreams because time is going to pass regardless, so I might as well get busy doing what I love.
As a player, I don’t have a stellar amateur career behind me but I do have a lot of life experience and belief in my ability to figure out the Rubix Cube that is professional golf.
To date I’ve played 2 seasons on the Australian Ladies Professional Golf (ALPG) circuit and the process of plying my trade for money been a real learning experience complete with lots of ups and downs.
The ALPG season typically spans a 2 month period with a mix of 6-8 Pro Ams and 4-5 major tournaments.
During my rookie season in 2014/2015, I finished 26th on the ALPG Order of Merit with earnings of $5,160 including a 2nd place finish at the Renault Ladies Pro am at Castle Hill Country Club. Having some experience under my belt led to higher expectations for the 2015/2016 season, but I performed poorly and finished 40th on the Order of Merit with earnings of $2,005 and a season best finish of 11th at the Anita Boon Pro Am in New Zealand.
Despite being based in Sydney where many of the tournaments are held and being able to minimise a lot of my expenses through billeting with amazing host families in other states I still lost money in both seasons as my golf expenses (flights, hotels, hire cars, caddie fees, tournament fees etc) were around $6,000 for the 2 month periods.
It’s important to note that other life costs such as rent, food, health and car insurance, gym fees etc aren’t included in those budgets and thus the total incurred loss is much greater. No one said professional golf was going to be cheap!
In assessing my performances, It became clear that there were 2 main reasons why I wasn’t competitive enough with the best players during our tournaments despite all the desire to be better:
It requires a full-time commitment to practice and playing because the talent pool is too deep and there are several hundred, if not thousands of girls around the world right now giving the game that level of commitment who are hungry and dedicated to reaching the top.
I did consider myself very lucky in that my employer at the time was very supportive and I had accrued enough paid leave to be able to actually have the whole 2 month period off to play both seasons.
There will always be a battle we face as professional golfers in that you require a lot of funds to chase your dreams and unless you have financial sponsors or other sources of income to assist with that, then you need to find the money to compete through working, often full-time, but just don’t expect to be overly competitive if you never get off this cyclic merry go round.
There has to come a point where you back yourself in with what you have in the bank or attain the funds some other way.
To give you an idea of what a top Australian female player looks like, I’ll reference Victoria’s Stacey Keating as she played in all of the tournaments on the ALPG 2015/2016 season. Stacey is a 7 time winner on the ALPG circuit, including winning 3 times this past season.
She has also won twice on the Ladies European Tour (LET) since turning professional in 2010. During the 2015/2016 season, in which she finished 2nd on our Order of Merit behind Karrie Webb, Stacey’s competitive score average was 71.68 against an average course par of 72.52, exactly 0.84 under par achieved over 25 rounds.
She finished par or better in 11 of her 12 tournaments and amassed $43,741 in prizemoney over the 2 month season.
Stacey plays full time across the ALPG and LET circuits and holds status on the American based LPGA and Symetra Tours. At the time of writing, she is currently the 7th leading Australian player on the Official Rolex World Rankings at 257th.
She is known for her work ethic and dedication to her craft.
Given the statistics I’ve just displayed, if you are serious about being a world class female professional, you can see why a fulltime commitment level is required to reach the top. Anything less than being “All In” and you might as well just enjoy the game for what it is, and lower your expectations.
If you’re thinking Stacey’s competitive score average is pretty good, you’d be right but what sort of score average does it take to be the number 1 player in the World? Undoubtedly the courses on the LPGA draw more difficult setups and thus the score average is even more impressive.
At the end of the 2015 calendar year, New Zealand’s Lydia Ko finished on top of the World Rankings, a position she still currently occupies. Her 2015 season saw her average 69.44 over 93 rounds which made her $2,800,802 in prize-money and resulted in 5 wins and 3 runner up finishes on the LPGA circuit alone.
It’s pretty clear that if your goal is to be the best player in the world, you are going to need to be able to average around 2.5 under par on tour course setups over the course of a year and almost a hundred rounds of golf.
"Anything less than being “All In” and you might as well just enjoy the game for what it is, and lower your expectations."
So knowing all this information and following my disappointing 2015/2016 season I made a decision that I needed to help create a better environment in order to be more competitive.
I relocated in March 2016 from Sydney to Perth which has great weather year round and much better practice facilities at most of the courses.
The move has allowed me to lower my expenses and invest more time in my game and work less in order to work on lowering my competitive score average and in turn earn more prize-money.
Whilst the move is only 3 months old, practicing full-time has proved an exceptionally good decision thus far as it has allowed me to work on the areas of my game that required the most work.
Comparing my statistics over those 2 seasons with the best players on the LPGA made the areas readily identifiable and I’ve been able to develop the right practice plans matched with far greater commitment to start attaining the required improvement.
Being able to practice full-time has also allowed me to fix some technical flaws in my swing that’s drastically improved my ball striking and come without the rushed feeling that sometimes comes with making changes between tournaments.
Whilst It is a relatively small sample size, since the relocation I’ve played 6 competitive rounds over 3 tournaments in Australia, China and Hong Kong for a competitive score average of 73.66 or 1.66 over par.
I also managed to cash my biggest cheque and have my best finish in a full field event of my professional career thus far – finishing Tied 19th and making $3,100 in Hong Kong which was a great experience played in adverse weather conditions all week.
Its been great to see the improvement take shape and with future goals to play on the LPGA circuit I know I’m finally heading in the right direction.
Whilst I can’t see what the future ultimately has in store for my golf career, I’m not going to be sitting on the sidelines half committed wondering what if any longer, I’m going to see this through to the end!
Breanna Gill - Instagram @breannagillgolf