|Life on Mini-Tours: The Grind|
|Written by Nicklausfan|
In the eastern sky the sun rises and songbirds chirp away as the mower blades cut the air with their mechanical whirs. The sweet smell of dew on the grass lingers in your nostrils as you gaze out towards the range before you. You’re on the practice green rolling putts as the dew trails off of the ball with other like-minded souls with the same goal doing the same thing. The unmistakeable sound of crisply hit irons send range balls hissing into the air. It’s rehearsed the sound almost entrancing like a symphony orchestra. One by one each golfer settles into a rhythm of their own. Early mornings of driving to a different course… a different city. The stench of mildew in rooms which are barely comfortable enough for you let alone the vermin that also reside there. Sounds glorious right? This is the grind of one of the toughest jobs in sports and entertainment. Golf’s Mini-Tours.
Life on golf’s “Mini” otherwise known as Developmental Tours is exactly as the title merely suggests. It’s a grind. All over the world there is Mini-Tours where aspiring professional golfers hone their skills and talents to get to the next level. Names of these tours include popular or well- known circuits like the eGolf Tour, Gateway Tour and NGA Hooters Tour. There are some lesser known circuits as well like the Moonlight Tour, Golfslinger.com Tour and Great Lakes Tour (Canada’s Premiere Mini-Tour) which all attract names like Tom Gillis and LPGA Superstar Lexi Thompson.
Everybody out there is there because they are good enough to be playing golf professionally but the roads have been easier for some than others. Many have played golf at a collegiate level where some never attended college but have had successful amateur careers at their different State or Provincial Association levels. Then there is the lowest of the totem pole. The professionals that haven’t played or had any success at any of the above-mentioned levels. They have the game and all of the talent of the world but just didn’t catch that lucky break somewhere along the line and have to do it themselves. Admittedly, there is where I enter the picture.
I am ten days from starting my second year as a professional golfer in Ontario, Canada. This past winter I managed two trips to Florida which included a stay in West Palm Beach for action on a Florida Mini-Tour. My first year was not successful for many reasons. No excuses, but through a total rebuilding of a swing and illness which included leaving one tournament by ambulance it was a tough year. So tough in fact that I felt like I didn’t belong on the range my first event (ask me about my first tee shot as a professional). I learned a lot about myself the person and professional golfer. But much like everything else in life golf is a process. By the time I played my last event in September I knew that I belonged, could compete and win.
There is a lot to being a Mini-Tour player. There is the time you have to put in to practice, time to spend at the gym (not all professional golfers do but most go), the commitment to the game itself, at times wondering how you’re going to be able to play the next event. When it comes to having a supportive family enough cannot be said. I am so fortunate when it comes to family. It is a grind in every sense of the word. Life on the Mini-Tours is a lot pressure, stress, heartache and it is the ultimate roller coaster ride. Simply stated… if you’re in it for the money you’re in the wrong profession and more importantly you’re in it for the wrong reason. I won’t even delve into the topic of expenses for now. At some time down the road I will though. You might even be surprised at what you hear.
Anyways, I do want to cut this introductory entry a little short. Playing on Mini-Tours is a grind and a tough job. But it’s a job with a great looking office and view. The grind is rewarding and fulfilling and at this stage of my life I cannot imagine doing anything else. I want to take the time to thank-you for taking the time to read this entry and please enjoy the accompanying video entry as well. This is the first in a series of entries involving life in professional golf at the Mini-Tour level. It is a journey and I am inviting each and every one of you on this little excursion.