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Don’t Freak Out, But Paige Spiranac’s Road to The LPGA Begins This Week

Pro golf is hard. Like really hard. A lot of people seem to think that it’s pretty simple, in that, if you’re really good, you simply go play pro golf, make a billion dollars, and ride off into the Jupiter, Florida sunset. It most certainly doesn’t work that way. There are players that make a career playing pro golf on the Web.com tour or international tours who will never successfully make it to the PGA tour. A lot of those people are just as good as tour players, and on any given day, could beat the likes of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, or Dustin Johnson, but their intersection of skill, timing, and a little luck just never come to fruition. That’s not hyperbole either. A few months ago, the Monday qualifying scores to make it into the Web.com’s Suncoast Classic Open were 63 and 64. Granted, the course was playing at 6,500 yards, but the point is that these pros that you’ve never heard of are really fucking good. 

To be able to compete on the professional tours, you have to not only have the game, but the will and drive to actually do it, as well as a shit ton of mental fortitude. A week for a low level pro tour might look something like this.

Sunday: Show up to the city where the tournament is being held. Sometimes you’ll stay in a hotel, but a full week at the Holiday Inn could eat up over $700, and if you’re barely making the cut and placing 65th, you’re making $1600 for the week on the Web tour, after paying your caddy, food, and entry fees, you’re already in the red. So it’s more likely that you’ll crash in the spare bedroom of a connection you or someone you know has. 

Monday: Practice round/ Monday Pro-am. Golf tournaments are corporate cash grabs. They pay for the purses, so they want their money’s worth. Pro-ams give sponsors a chance to get their employees and clients on the course to play in foursomes with a tour pro. It’s good practice, but it’s a lot of ass-kissing. Some pros hate it, some love it. 

Tuesday: Real practice round. This is the day when you get out and really get everything dialed. Yardages, club selections, shot possibilities, everything. Money matches happen on these days, too, but it’s definitely still work. These days, a lot of players will also get in workouts and range sessions with swing coaches or hit the tour trucks to get adjustments made to their clubs. 

Wednesday: Pro-am/ more practice. This is the big pro-am. It’s usually a lot of hungover, upper-level management types from the sponsor companies. It’s a cool experience for them, and most pros are obligated to play. Tiger Woods even plays, but he gets it out of the way early and always takes the first tee time. On these days, he’ll show up to the range at 5:30AM and hit balls under rented stadium lights. 

Thursday: Tournament day.

Friday: Tournament day

Saturday: Live under par/live at the bar. If you make the cut, you can sigh in relief if you’re living paycheck to paycheck. You’re getting something for the week, even if you’re netting barely enough to get home after the tournament is done. If you miss the cut, have a nice trip home after a few vodka sodas while wondering when you should give up pro golf aspirations and go back to selling CutCo knives door to door. 

Sunday: Final round and gtfo. More often than not, guys who win a tournament will take the next week or few weeks off to celebrate and recover since they’ve probably earned some form of exemption and earned enough money to finally renovate that spare bedroom in their house so their mother in law can finally move in. However, for middle of the pack guys, it’s a final tournament day, then traveling to the next event to hopefully collect another paycheck. 

A lot of folks who like to say that golf is easy don’t take this schedule into account. And it’s not just one week. It’s week after week chasing something that no one can really understand. You win a Web.com event? Cool, now the next challenge is getting to the big boy tour. You win the Sanderson Farms open on the PGA tour? Great, now you’ve gotta chase a major. Finally got your green jacket? Wonderful, now you have to try to get to world number one and try to win other majors. Win 14 majors, become arguably the greatest golfer of all time, go through some seriously dark lows with cheating on your wife, spinal fusion surgery, a DWI, then make the greatest comeback golf has ever seen by winning the Tour Championship and the Masters within seven months of each other? Can’t stop now! Time to try to beat Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors so that no one can ever argue that you’re the great of all time. 

It’s insanity, really. You’re never done. To play professional golf, you have to have a screw loose. Even Jordan Spieth who accomplished more from 2014-2017 than many golfers will in a 25 year career is being dragged across golf media for not keeping up with his former winning pace. So that’s enough laying the foundation. This is a blog about Paige, though, right? How does this apply to her? 

Well, Paige was a top-20 junior player in the world. She won a conference championship in college. She made money on the Cactus Tour and the Ladies European Tour. So it would seem obvious that she would want to take her game to the LPGA. The point of laying everything out earlier in this blog should let you know that it’s just not that simple. She tried it, but she had enough common sense to realize that if you don’t completely love the grind and the shitty parts of pro golf more than you love anything else in the entire world, you’ll never reach your game’s potential. It’s such a mental profession, and it takes a very self-aware person, as Paige is, to know when to shift your focus. 

By switching to social media, ambassadorship, and golf lifestyle commentary, Paige didn’t ‘give up.’ She has taken it upon herself to make a bigger impact and a better career for herself with her work instead of grinding it out on the women’s golf tours. 

That’s not to say Paige has lost her competitive streak. Paige has petitioned to regain her amateur status to the USGA. However, the USGA, an organization with strikingly similar competence to the NCAA, has denied her requests to get it back, seemingly because she makes a living in the golf industry. Big eye roll on that one. I would assume that the purpose of that rule is to prevent amateur players from getting a distinct advantage over their competition, but my question is how? I know amateurs that practice with better equipment, swing coaches, and facilities than professional players. But because Paige takes videos of her practice sessions and puts them on Youtube, somehow, I guess they think she would have a leg up on the field. 

Paige getting her amateur status back is important because it could get her into events like the US and British Opens, the ANWA, and other competitive tournaments. And considering that the USGA’s self-proclaimed goal is to grow the game, it would seem obvious that you would want Paige’s star power as a hallmark player in your events, but the powers that be can’t seem to get that through their heads. 

Enter the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf tournament. To be perfectly honest, I really can’t even begin to understand exactly what the format is. At its core, it’s a Champions Tour (senior PGA) event, but there’s a televised pro-am and celebrity skins shootout. Despite the confusing format, the tournament gets a lot of things right. Justin Timberlake, Mark Wahlberg, Kid Rock, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, John Daly, and Vijay Singh will all be in the field in one way or another. There’s really something for everybody. I love that the tournament is held in Branson, Missouri and the title sponsor is Bass Pro Shops because it’s really a nod to the event’s approachability. The event isn’t held at some stuffy country club. It’s at a beautiful Coore- Crenshaw course in the same town made famous for being a hillbilly Las Vegas, with Dolly Parton impersonators and all you can eat catfish buffets. It’s not that is doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s a highly entertaining tournament, but it sticks out almost in spite of the countless tournaments sponsored by investment banks, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance firms. 

Paige announced on Monday that she will be playing in the tournament and I could not be more excited. The tournament will be cool and all, but what I’m hoping/ predicting, is that it will re-ignite some fire in Paige that will perhaps make her want to take another run at pro golf. Perhaps Paige’s last foray into pro golf just wasn’t the right path. Maybe she’ll feel inspired to build confidence in her professional game and play the Symetra Tour to earn her LPGA card. 

I doubt it, especially because even if she did feel the urge to go on tour again, she would probably have to deal with breaking out of a ton of contracts she already has, but I think I can certainly dream. Either way, check out this event that starts Wednesday, goes to Sunday, and will be on TV, but I don’t know when and am too lazy to look it up. 

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