Even should the
mini-tour business expand, it's going to be increasingly tough for a kid coming
out of college to make a living playing golf. Stan Wood, the longtime golf
coach at USC and former president of the College Golf Coaches of America, says,
"The players start younger, get better coaching in high school and in
college. Ten years ago golf was a minor sport; now it's a major sport in
college, and scholarships are plentiful.
"They play on
better courses than most of the tour stops and often year round. Everyone in
college golf probably wants to play on the pro tour. There are 500 schools in
our program, so that adds up to 2,500 players and approximately 1,000 graduates
each year. Of these, about 100 are going to make an all-out effort to play
professionally. Ninety-five percent of them should find another game. There are
40 good prospects each year. But they have no place to go but the PGA
Deane Beman is equally blunt. "We are in the entertainment business,"
he says, "furnishing the highest level of players for the public, which
pays a lot of money to come and watch. We're not running a business to teach
someone how to play the game. We furnish the opportunity for a player with
skill to have a place to practice his profession.
tried to subsidize the less skilled player with satellite tournaments. One
year, we had 24 satellite events and it cost more than $100,000 to run these.
Nobody came to watch them and we lost money. The PGA tour is for the
accomplished players. We have simple rules about how to get on the tour. A
second circuit wouldn't help us, it would only help the player.
"I think the
best solution is the mini-tours. They provide a place for a player to sharpen
his game, play against his peers and get ready to try and qualify for the tour.
It costs money but so does everything else."
So Barry Fleming
and the other 381 pros who missed qualifying at Pinehurst in June will keep
chasing the rainbow that ends for a few in the PGA's pot of gold. But they are
undismayed. "There is a place for a second tour," Fleming insists,
"and there are other places to go. Some of us will go to the Canadian tour.
Some will go as far as Australia. And some will go back to Orlando. One way or
the other, there will be casualties." (Goosie has a 55% turnover.)
Just how far
novice pros will go to compete was obvious the day the tornado blew through
Grandview, ripping up homes and throwing buildings into the sky. Out at the
River Oaks Country Club, where play had wisely been called, golfers excoriated
officials about the postponement. When the temperature fell to 26� and the
winds rose to 30 mph at one of Goosie's tournaments, not one of the 100 men
scheduled to play missed his tee-off time. They want to succeed even if they