To the outside observer, it may seem the only course a professional golfer has to plot is the one with green grass and eighteen white holes. Despite spending most of our days on the pristine soil of a golf course, there is another course we chart before arriving at each site. For most players, this planning happens before we hit our first shots of the season. This yardage book mirrors the map of the U.S. and the tee boxes are determined by the schedule we are given months before.
When the schedule comes out, we begin booking travel arrangements. That is time when we take off our golf caps and replace them with sailor hats. We become captains of our own ship. And like many sailors, we set an open course into the unknown.
If you’re a rookie, you are headed into uncharted waters. I can attest to that. But even the seasoned veterans don’t know what lies ahead. As I choose the events to play and the ones to miss for a little rest, I only wish I had a Magic Eight Ball to tell me the answers only time will tell.
Without a fortune teller, I’ve done my best to put the pieces together. First, if you don’t have full status, it’s a guessing game figuring out which tournaments you will get into. If you have your choice of all events, the planning gets a little easier. Then comes the picking and choosing. Some players may pack their schedule with all 21 and ride the current until it ends. Others may take time to rest and focus on peaking at certain times. It takes experience to know what works for you. Throw in a few other tournaments, Monday qualifiers and USGA events, just stir the pot even more.
Once the tournaments are selected the booking begins. To fly or to drive? Rental car or shuttle? Air BnB or hotel? To pack warm- or cold-weather clothes? Well, what if one week is warm and the other is cold? How many boxes of balls can I fit in my carry-on? Caddy or pushcart? If I push, how do I lug my pushcart, suitcase, and golf bag through the airport (yep, I’ve been there)? Morning or afternoon practice round? If I miss the cut, do I stay or leave?
These are just a few of the questions that go into scheduling a year on the Epson Tour. The hardest part is that we have no one there telling us the recipe for success. The fact is that no one can tell you the recipe. It’s individualized and something we can only learn ourselves. The only ingredient others could share is to lean into the unknown. While you create a plan, things could change, and all your answers won’t be given while you sit at your computer and book each trip.
So, make your best plans and set sail. There will be times when the winds change, and the waves rock your boat. Don’t worry. Just haul the sheet in and lift the rutter. Eventually the seas will settle, and it will be smooth sailing yet again. When our hearts are steady and we can look back on the changing tides, I can imagine we will be grateful for the moments we did not plan. When things changed for the worse, but we came out better. Or when things changed for the better and we can’t even explain how.
Last year I charted my course while fearing the unknown. This year I am creating my course with a curious mind, wondering what’s in store for this journey. Will I sail the ocean blue and arrive just where I planned to be? Or will the winds take me somewhere else where I’m meant to be? I guess all the fun is in figuring it out.
You can join the ship and follow my schedule here as I continually update it throughout the season.