A PGA Tour golfer's life is just about as good as it gets for any professional athlete. There's little risk of major physical injury or damage to your body, you travel all over the world, work outside, and play some of the best and most scenic venues on earth. Their workdays could last as little as five hours or run from dawn until darkness, depending on how much practice they want to put in. But one thing in particular that I've always thought can be difficult is the juggle of flipping from the afternoon wave to the morning wave through the first two rounds of a tournament.
Rickie Fowler is the poster boy for this week's tournament at Colonial, and he has an endorsement deal with the tournament's title sponsor, Crowne Plaza Hotels. It's hard to walk five minutes without seeing his likeness. Fowler has one victory in his young career, but he's carved out a niche as the go-to endorser and young face of the Tour.
The Tour, however, put him in the Thursday afternoon-Friday morning tee time swing, where he finished his opening 18 around 5 p.m. local time and had to be back at the course just over 12 hours later for the next loop. A 7:33 a.m. tee time means Fowler is up before the sun and was at the course at dawn on Friday morning. It's a good lifestyle but this has always struck me as one of the undesirable swings of the job. It's unavoidable but Fowler's success at least ensures that he's not the first off in the morning wave.
With the title sponsor in the travel business, Crowne Plaza Hotels did a little bit of digging and surveyed the Tour players about their life on the road and their day-to-day schedules off the course. Fowler, who has the endorsement arrangement with the hotel, said "For me, getting eight hours of sleep is one of my top priorities during a tournament." That priority would make for a tight schedule these first two days at Colonial, based on his assigned tee times. According to the survey, the average among players, caddies, and Tour staffers is seven hours -- a surprising number to me given the early-morning demands (I spoke to rules officials and groundskeepers who were here well before 6 a.m.). The survey data indicates that golfers and caddies, on average, turn off the lights around 10:30 p.m. and get out of bed at 6:06 a.m. on the day of a tournament.
In total, nearly all of those players are on the road for "business" more than 60 nights of the year. The spectrum of those accommodations, however, has to be significant -- with Tiger Woods sequestered away in a private manse and rookie golfers with minimal career earnings traveling and staying in spots more similar to the common business traveler. As a marquee player and endorser, Rickie is likely on the upper-end of the spectrum but he still can't control the tee times assigned to him by the Tour. On Friday, he had made the turn before 9:30 a.m., ahead of many spectators' arrival, and was hovering just over the cut line on his inward nine. The hope for all parties involved -- fans, sponsors, members -- is that he at least holds the line to stick around for two more nights in Fort Worth.