'When play resumes...make no mistake, the guys who live in the USA will be at a distinct advantage'

Wayne Riley: Easier For American-Based Golfers During Covid-19 Lockdown

Hello everyone, and I hope you’re doing as well as can be expected in lockdown.

It’s certainly a strange time, but just think about how good that first round of golf back is going to be, and how great your first pint in the pub will taste!

I’m in Ascot at the moment and the other day I was going for my allocated walk when a car pulled up next to me.

It was Oliver Fisher.

I asked him what he was doing and he said he was on the way back from mowing his father-in-law’s lawn.

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I asked if he’d been able to practice and he said no, not one bit, so I said ‘fair enough, you’ve got to make some money somehow!”

It was a funny exchange, but it did get me thinking about the difference between most PGA and European Tour players within this enforced layoff from professional golf and the differing impacts it will have on different people.

Of course, Rory McIlroy isn’t concerned about being able to pay the mortgage, but some will be.

I’m thinking about the guys who played the Challenge Tour all last season, earning very little but securing their place on the European Tour for 2020.

The same goes for those who have earned the privilege to play on this great circuit via the Q-School in Spain.

With everything grinding to a halt, the finances must be strained for some of these youngsters, and maybe some of the older players who have been on the fringes of the tour for all of their careers.

Believe me, they exist.

As of right now, the tunnel is still dark.

It must be so tough for those pros who can’t do work with their coach or go to the range and beat balls.

And even those who have practice facilities at home must sometimes struggle for motivation when there’s currently no return in sight.

For me, the motivation should come from potentially gaining a competitive edge.

With so many good players on tour these days, the little things can make a huge difference.

When play on the professional circuits resumes, there will be a lot of rust on the better players’ clubs and swings.

It won’t take them long to get back, but there could be an opportunity for some members if they’re ready and prepared to hit the ground running.

Make no mistake, though – the guys who live in the USA will be at a distinct advantage.

I reckon 90% of those on the PGA Tour live on golf courses, and very private ones at that.

I’m thinking of resorts like Lake Nona, where the likes of Stenson, Poulter and McDowell make their home, and the Bears Club down in West Palm Beach where McIlroy has settled.

Practice won’t be an issue like it may be in the UK.

Another interesting side point is equipment.

Players are always tinkering with it, but what are they going to do now they can’t visit the tour truck or go to their manufacturers’ factories?

When I played, I had grips, putting mats, shafts and all sorts of tools in my garage.

As long as I was able to keep my eye off the box of white wine in the corner, I’d be forever tinkering in there.

I know the likes of Seve, Faldo and Langer were also big into this, but I think too many youngsters nowadays rely on these vans on tour.

Sometimes, I feel, it’s a good idea to be involved with your own equipment.

Something else that’s a huge part of modern golf is fitness.

Once again, the rich players have their own gyms at home, but the journeymen and those who yoyo between the top tier and second tier most likely don’t.

What do they do to keep fit?

As with all of us in these times, imagination is important.

It’s very easy to take your foot off the gas and let lethargy take hold, but those who are able to maintain their commitment, focus and desire will benefit in the long run.

As for when this all gets going again, who knows, but I’ll tell you what: it’ll be easier for the PGA Tour than the European Tour.

They’ve got so much money over there and if most of the players are in the States already, they could potentially drive around the country to compete.

The European Tour is so international, in terms of both the fields and the host countries, that it really relies on aeroplane transport.

There’s so much up in the air still and I wouldn’t like to speculate, but as with everything else, there will be knock-on effects.

I’m glad I’m not the one having to make tough decisions, that’s for sure.

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