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What does a typical week look like for a tournament professional? From the PGA and European Tour's down to the smaller tours how do the professionals organize and prepare to perform at their best?
For most of the Pro's with a full tour card they can organize their playing schedule well in advance as they know which tournaments they have automatic entry into and also the courses that would suit their game or where they have had success in the past.
The next thing to consider is have they made the 36 hole cut and played the weekend the previous week. For those that have played the full four rounds, Monday is the travel day to arrive and settle in the accommodation that is close to the tournament course.
For the players who missed the cut the previous week they would have stayed and practiced on the Saturday and traveled on Sunday to the next venue which means they can get onto the course on Monday and have an extra day to familiarize themselves and do their course charting (mapping the course and putting greens) with their caddy.
Now almost all players on the main tour's will have employed a full time caddy that has been working on tour for a few years and has local knowledge and an insight of all courses that host tournaments every year.
A good caddy is worth his weight in gold especially when the player gets in contention to win and the caddy can help to make the correct decisions in the heat of battle. The caddy gets remunerated well for this service and on the PGA Tour weekly retainers for caddies start at US$1,500.00 with an added incentive bonus of 6% to 10% when the player makes the cut, finishing in the top ten or winning the tournament.
At every tournament there is some enterprising person (normally an ex caddy) who sells the course charting books for a fee of US $25.00 upwards.
On the PGA Tour most of these books are done in yards so either the caddy or player has to adjust it to meters and this can be time consuming.
The first thing to do when the player gets to the course is register with the tournament office which some "rookies" in the past have failed to do by Tuesday 5pm and that means they are not included in the draw which goes up after the 5 pm deadline.
So if players are playing in the Wednesday Pro-Am which is normally conducted in the afternoon they will plan to get on course in the morning on the Tuesday to get to experience how the course plays under different conditions.
One of the big advantages on the main tour's is that every equipment supplier turns up in their trucks and are in attendance to service the players golfing needs on site. From new model clubs, club adjustment and repair, to stocking the players up with golf balls, caps, gloves, shoes and clothing, the players are never short of anything.
The late Ramsay McMaster working with a golfer
For those players who are requiring body adjustments or maintenance for injury prevention their is always a section of the locker room that has Physiotherapist or Chiropractors in attendance to work with players.
Many top players they will have their personal trainers attend certain weeks of the year to maintain their peak physical conditioning throughout the year.
An interesting observation I have noticed at tournaments over the years is that the majority of players who are missing cuts spend most of the week working on their swing at the driving range, and those scoring well are working more on their green-side and putting skills and drills...
Some players will work with their coaches on an area of their game that is holding them back, and to get clarity and a plan that will get them back on track and lower their scoring average.
Eating well and healthy at tournaments is always a challenge as the food you normally eat is not always available and you have to compromise. Especially young professionals who have to save money by travelling with others to pool their resources and end up at fast food outlets. So my advice to young pro's is to be selective on who you travel with because it may cost you in the long run.
Stocking the bag up with supplies of food like fruit and health bars and drinks for hydration is the norm for the modern day player.
One last thing to do before Thursday is for the players and caddies to check the weather forecast for the remainder of the week. Being prepared especially for rain and delays is critical to having a successful week. Knowing the direction and change of winds through the day will aid in club selection out on the course.
All players will have an early start on Thursday or Friday so having an alarm clock and back up is what nearly every player has to have. I remember Jim Furyk's phone alarm didn't go off as the battery went flat, missed his tee time at the 1st FedEx tournament of 2010 and was disqualified. Mind you he went on to win the FedEx Cup that year and the bonus US $10,000,000.00 that goes with it!
The most successful players are the best prepared week in week out and it starts before they get to the tournament. All the preparation has been done and from Thursday onwards it's about playing golf with a clear mind and focus on the job of putting low scores on the board.
The last thing that all successful tour players do is to comprehensively track their practice and playing statistic's so no stone is left unturned to make sure the preperation for the following week and beyond is going to lead them to lower scores.
David Milne and Lawrie Montague - Pro Tour Golf College
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