Memo To PGA Tour: No Thank You, I'll Stay Where I Am
This week the little boys (Nationwide Tour) make their annual stop at the Gila River Invitational. Ain’t no cooler name on the PGA Tour, let me tell you. Ranks right up there with other, mad tight sponsorships on the second tour, like Jacob’s Creek, Panama (think Van Halen), Chitimacha, Chattanooga and Chiti-Chiti-Bang-Bang (I think I made that last one up.) I get the chance each year to attend two of these barn-burners, and compare how modern (Peek’N Peak–Lake Erie Charity Classic) and traditional (Irondequoit CC–Xerox Classic) courses hold up against these boys … or is it, how they hold up against the courses?
Here’s a radical idea as we enter the antipenultimate (read: third last) week of regular Nationwide tour events: some guys don’t want to make the big tour. Huh? That’s every pro slapper’s dream, right? Not when they get there, it isn’t. Sure, some of the top 21 (Gore, Couch, Daley, Kraft) have been there before and know they can handle all the pressures of First Class. Currently number 22 is sitting on 163 grand, which means it will take about $175 K in earnings to miss a tour card. Before you render, ask yourself, what does that entail?
It means playing against the best in the world, on unfamiliar courses, with not a lot of status. Think you’re getting into those early-season, desert events with low scores and big paychecks? Not as many as you’d hoped. Think the courses are 6700 yards, and 68s will get it done? Try 7200, and 68s will get it done. Instead of playing with Jason Dufner, Scott Weatherly, or Ken Duke, you’re matched with the best the game has to offer, and they’re not budging.
Let’s face it, $175,000 isn’t bad money to play the second tour. If you watch expenses, have a bit of sponsor money and a good money manager, you can do pretty well. Tournaments hook you up with good hotel rates, you can get frequent flier mileage or drive a gas miser, and you don’t pay your caddie as much. Why risk those 175 bills to make 30 or 40 or 110 bills on the big tour, where stakes are higher, steaks are costlier, and space is limited? I guess it’s called a dream.
I don’t know. Can you look Tim Finchem in the eye and say “No Thank You. I don’t have space in my wallet for the PGA Tour card. The Nationwide one has the last lot.”
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