Hundreds of talented junior golfers dream of one day turning professional, earning a sponsorship deal with a top brand and all the extra trimmings. The cold, harsh reality is that making a living from playing golf is not as straightforward as it appears on television. On top of competing every week, flying around the world staying in pokey hotel rooms and dedicating all your time to practice, there is the underlying, influential necessity to be remembered. Money.
If you come from a comfortable background and have sufficient funding from generous parents who are willing to throw money at you in your attempt to make it as a pro, then you stand more of a chance than most. I’m 18 years old, have a handicap of 3 and have recently finished my A-levels. I have made the decision to take a gap year to concentrate on my golf, in the hope of getting down to around +3 by October 2010.
This will obviously not be easy. I am fortunate enough to be able to spend six months of the year playing, and most importantly practicing in the Algarve, Portugal. This summer I will literally be playing golf all day, everyday. A summary of my standard practice day consists of going for a 2-mile run, getting to the range by 8am, practicing all areas of my game for three hours, lunch break, 18 holes on the course, finished with another two hours of short game practice.
You may be thinking this sounds intense and will be incredibly difficult to maintain throughout the following eight weeks of summer, but I’m dedicated and passionate enough to give it a go. I’m also lucky enough be able to play some of the best tracks in Europe in Portugal, including the stunning Jack Nicklaus-designed Monte Rei course, Quinta Do Lago’s North, South and their impressive new Laranjal. This can only help.
There are numerous junior golf academies and schools across the world that provide world-class coaching to people my age aspiring to be England’s new exciting talent, including Hank Haney’s International Academy, the David Leadbetter Academy, the JPGA, and the Dave Pelz golf school. American university is also a popular route. However you plan to get to where you want to be in a few years, you need complete dedication, financial support from others around you and a deep passion for improving as a golfer. I’m hoping for a productive summer.