I’ve nearly played them all before working my way up through the Challenge Tour to the DP World Tour, and since – Europro Tour, Mena Tour, Clutch Tour, Jamega Tour, Tamsel Tour, 2020protour, 1836 Tour, North West Pro Tour, PGA events, Eagle Tour – the only ones I haven’t played would be TP Tour, Alps Tour, Nordic League and Pro Golf Tour.
I’d say I’m an experienced Mini Tour player over the years and was certainly fortunate enough to keep going over such a long period of time with the level of expense involved – I’d have classed myself as a Mini Tour Journeyman that’s for sure!
So, what’s my take on it all?
You’re forever getting told you’re living the dream by friends and members at the club…but you’re not really, as you’re constantly chasing your tail trying to make a few quid to keep going week to week!!
There are not many jobs where you’re not making money but keep chasing it – guess that’s the pull of sport and the potential highs that lie ahead!
I guess the real dream is once you get to the main tour and start making money at something you love doing – but how do you get to that point and is it as much fun at the top as the journey to get there?
So here are some of my takes on Mini Tour golf.
Embrace travelling with mates, sharing houses, practising together and hiring cars, as you’ll have a great laugh if you do!
It all gets very serious once you climb the ladder, as there are then so many smaller groups of players, nationalities, categories of players, financial divides etc, the list goes on!
Travel with people you like to spend time with, players who work hard, players with the same drive as yourself, but whatever you do, my main advice would be to not travel with players who sulk, spit their dummy out and are confidence/energy drainers!!!!!!
You’re better on your own then!
Yes, everyone is entitled to a sulk, but there are ways to do it and ways to respect other players around you!
I’ve certainly experienced the above and as a pretty positive person myself, it eventually takes it out of you listening to a roommate complain all night about the greens, slow play or how unlucky they got!
You get to choose how you think, so if you decide to accept a bad break on the greens, then someone is banging on at dinner about how unlucky they are, then it starts to get annoying!!!
Take the rough with the smooth!!!!!
Looking back, the memories of four players in a small car with four sets of clubs and luggage heading off to play a tournament are fantastic – music blaring, loads of banter, McDonalds on route – followed by a practice round where the loser gets to sleep on the sofa bed or has to wash up for the whole week – it’s great!!
I’ve also pulled up at some rented accommodation where I’ve simply wanted to turn around and leave, but when you’d only paid £50 for the week on Air B&B and you’re saving every penny you can to try and make the week profitable, you feel it’s already a win!
The more I think about the memories made and the people I’ve met, the more fun I realise I’ve had playing Mini Tour golf.
So, as I mentioned, embrace the ups and downs, laugh at the adversity and enjoy every minute on the golf course, as you’ll never know when it may end!
When I posted on social media that I was writing this blog, a few people raised some good topics in relation to Mini Tour Golf.
I’d like to say I always tried my best and if I didn’t know the course well I’d be the first there for a practice round!
Even for a one-day event, if you can find the time to see the course and know where and where not to hit it…it could save you at least one shot!
And when money is tight and only the top few (approx 20%) get paid, you have to make sure you make it count!
Remember it’s your job and if you had a boss judging your preparation and performance they’d mark you down for not doing your homework!!
Is there a better pathway or are there better routes to take?
This is such an individual answer…there are lots of logistics involved from location, expenses, course knowledge, event incentives, prize money – all come into the decision making process.
You probably wouldn’t travel 200 miles to play for a £5K prize fund if the event on your doorstep had a £4K prize fund.
It’s a business and you have to make cost-effective decisions at times (depending on your circumstances).
If you had endless funds you may travel everywhere!!!!! But that’s not 99% of players.
Getting sponsorship is difficult, it’s not a given and it shouldn’t be!
I think about this a lot; there are soooo many players I can’t believe didn’t make it to the top – but money must have held them back. At some point you can’t afford it, or maybe you buy a house and have kids!
I could list a handful of players who, if they’d been given a wage for ten years plus their expenses covered, would be in the world’s top 50 now, or have certainly made huge progression.
It’s a key factor – there are not many Rory’s who burst onto the scene straight to the top and stay there!
As I mentioned, it’s difficult to come by, it’s not a given and shouldn’t be!
Some players are lucky, right place right time, playing in a pro am and meeting someone in business who simply loves golf.
I’ve had this situation and been very fortunate a few times over the years and I’m very thankful!
Or maybe a friend of their parents with a successful business – maybe successful parents fund it.
But if you don’t fit into the above then it’s something you have to work hard for and be smart about!
I’d say £15k at even mini tour level is what’s needed to make a go of it with less pressure.
How? Network, meet people, sell shares, give up your time, coach people, play golf with people – time is the best thing you can offer back to people!
Create relationships and work hard!
Players selling the sponsorship dream that their company is going to be on Sky Sports always makes me laugh…. I won four times on Europro and reckon they probably showed ten close up shots of me wearing a sponsor’s logo in all that footage!
I certainly recommend forming a relationship with your local newspaper and county newspaper. They always needs sport covering, so do the hard work for them, write a blog, send them your results and photos – they will use it!
Maybe write a golf column for your local paper or golf magazine – “life on tour”.
This is a topic we could chat about forever…but there is a little food for thought there.
Someone asked if there is a mental battle with yourself – are you good enough? Do you try to impress friends/peers/sponsors?
Do you judge yourself against others?
I always looked at some players and thought wow, they hit it good, they’ve won loads, can’t believe I’m playing with them…but then I also thought about some players the other way. Wow, they don’t hit it good…how have they won!?
But a lot of the time you’re just judging someone off one round or time that you’ve played with them!
I remember in the Mauritius event being next to Haotong Li on the range, he was slapping it everywhere; me and my caddy were looking at each other thinking how’s this guy got here!!!!!
He then went on to be China’s highest ranked player, win multiple times and play in the Masters!!!
Poulter…he didn’t impress in the slightest in ball striking ability, but his attitude and the confidence he oozed were exactly what you’d expect from a multiple winner and Ryder Cup legend!
So, I guess myself and many others do/did judge ourselves against others, I guess it’s only natural!
But we all develop at different speeds, we all get dealt different hands and we all have different circumstances – so maybe setting your own goals and judging yourself against you may be the better way to do things!
So why did I continue through those ‘Journey Years? I always felt each year I was improving and stepping forward, even if the rankings didn’t say so!
My game and stats were changing and the areas that weren’t improving I tried to change!!!
And thankfully, through sponsorship and winning a few pennies, I could afford to live the life I required at that time. Small apartment, no kids etc etc!
I think as a summary to Mini Tour Golf, embrace what lies ahead, travel with good people, create good relationships and be thankful that you’ve got this opportunity to ‘Live your dream’ at whatever level you’re at!!
Have fun – Good luck!
So flash back photos from Mini Tour life between 2006-2012