Challenge Tour in Oman Mini-Blog #2 - 'Golf's Future is very bright!'

We met with six of the top players on the Challenge Tour, at least three of which will be on the European Tour next year and possible future stars.

What struck me was just how down to earth and humble these guys are. They all get on well together, all take the piss out of each other and all have a laugh.

The main brunt of the jokes was Jordan Smith who could quite easily be an absolute arsehole. He's smashed the Challenge Tour at his first attempt and leads the rankings collecting a nice bit of cash along the way, but he constantly looked embarrassed at the gags about his bank balance.

These boys are the future of golf and if they stay as they are it would be great. They're a good laugh, humble and as you'll see below very open which we can all agree is extremely rare for professional golfers in this day and age.

Just a genuine bunch of lads working hard at their jobs like all of us and trying to have a laugh along the way.

 

 On the stress of playing for your livelihood...

Dylan - “It’s different. There’s some guys that have their national golf unions sponsoring them or some guy they know and they honestly don’t care. They’re making £100,000-200,000 whether they fail or not on the Challenge Tour.

“Then you get the guys who’ve battled through the Europro or whatever and there are some who are trying to just get 10,000 bucks to last them the whole year.

“That’s the crazy thing, you can see differing levels of stress.

"It’s really cool when you see the guy who has worked hard from nothing and makes it, but then on the flipside there a dozen guys every year who will go ‘That’s the end of my golf career, I can’t afford it, got to go find a job.’

Garrick (Gaz) lining up a putt in Oman...

Oli - “Yeh, I got my main card from Challenge Tour two years ago and went up to main tour and there is a huge difference between guys who have been on tour for a long time and guys like me who were playing to basically be like them and be financially OK.”

“Out there you are playing for life changing amounts of money which for me is paying my mortgage, paying everything. But these guys have got like three of four houses…. It’s just completely different.”

“I was out there thinking ‘WOW, that’s a lot of money’ whereas they don’t have that. I guess that’s what makes them good, that they can maintain and not worry about money. 

“That was probably one of my faults last year worrying about the cash and it affected my golf. Just being inexperienced at playing for that kind of money.”

“There is a big financial step of being comfortable and I hope we can all get there at some point… well apart from Smithy who probably already is!”

 

On expenses and all being in it together...

Jordan - “A few guys I know that haven’t been able to play some events because they haven’t had the money”

Dylan - “Or they have to give up half way through the year because they don’t have any left.”

Oli - “Or they have to save up for Q-school at the end of the year. You’re easily spending £30,000 a year.”

These guys all hate planes so they hold the final next to airport to troll them...

Dylan -  “That’s if you live in UK. Me and Foxy have to get to the mainland. My expenses are more like £60,000. 

Ryan - “Yeh, mine was close to £100,000 last year.”

Oli - Yeh, we have to club together on things just to cut down costs. That's why we get on well I guess.

Ryan “Yeh, you don’t really care how your playing partners go until the back nine on Sunday, then when you’re close to the lead you want to beat the bastard!”

 

On Oman Grand Final week...

Oli -  “This week is huge. It’s not just about getting your card it’s about getting sponsorship. Club manufacturers won’t sponsor many players on Challenge Tour.”

Ryan - “I was the one that missed out last year, I finished 16th and missed by 2000 euros. It sucks.”

“I felt it on the third day and blew, I played poorly and played my way out of the tournament. I played nicely on the final day but when I got off and checked the projected rankings I realised.

Ryan Fox is a beast. He could probably kill you with his little finger whilst sat down.

"That hurt for a long time. I played pretty poorly the first three or four months of this year which was still fallout from that”

Dylan “You see it so clearly. Jordan has had his card a few weeks and has played beautifully since then but for the guys on the bubble it’s tough.

"I played with a guy today right on the bubble. He was a couple over, made a double on the back nine and everything just exploded, he shot 78. You really feel for a guy like that because you know how much work goes in."

 

On travel nightmares...

Ryan Fox - “They’ve named it right, it is a challenge! What other tour in the world goes to Kazakhstan?!”

Oli Farr - “No courtesy car, just a bus, some weeks not even a bus.”

“I think we’ve all got car hire insurance just because you get stung every week from it.”

This is a plane.

Ryan - “I had one earlier in the year, I was in New Zealand at the time. I found out I was in the Spanish Open on a Saturday night which is a $2million event. I flew out on the Sunday night and it was 42 hours door to door to get to Marbella in Spain!"

“Rocked up, played a practice round, shot 72 the first day then 86 the second day and got my arse kicked then jumped on a plane and it took my 48 hours to get home.”

“So that’s 90 hours to shoot a shitload over par!”

 

On being unsure about whether you are doing the right job...

Dylan - “You doubt yourself almost every day in golf. If you don’t then you are not listening to your body. It happens you just need to focus and push it away and do all those good things the sports psychologists tell you to do.”

“You can do everything right but there are 100 other guys out there who can easily beat you.”

Oli - “Yeh, you lose more than you win.”

Jordan Smith is number one and adopts the power stance accordingly

Max - “Yeh, unless you’re Jordan Smith.”

Dylan “Oh it’s so competitive though. You only have to look at Brooks Koepka. He played half a year twice and then went on to European Tour, PGA Tour then Ryder Cup.

"He did well but he was far from winning every week, he was getting beaten week in and week out. I figure Jordan is ranked 110 in the world, there’s loads of guys in the top 200, this is a high level.”

So what keeps you motivated then...

Max “I like money. Everyone likes money but it’s nice to have good things in life. If you can treat your family, treats your friends, that’s what motivates me.”

“It’s tough though. Once you get a lot of money what’s the motivation Jord?”

 

And which skill would you take from a Challenge Tour player...

Gaz - "I'd quite like Jordan's ball striking."

Jordan - "Oooh, I'm blushing."

Max - "I'd like his hair."

Gaz - "Yeh, he's just blow-dried it in our room."

More Nike from Dylan. Nice swing, nice bloke.

Max - "It's all about the long ball. Got to be Foxy."

Oli, and Dylan - "Yep, definitely the longest on tour."

Ryan - "There's a few putters I'd like. I'd take Tiley's (Steven)"

Jordan - "Yeh, I'll have his pitching."

 

You can follow the guy's progress at the NBO Classic Grand Final here and follow them on Twitter here Ryan Fox Dylan Frittelli Max Orrin Jordan Smith Ollie Farr Garrick Porteous

I'm the Managing Editor at The Club. I like putting and Rioja. I dislike my low slice.