Tour Life Ain’t Cheap

Peter performning one of the stability and core strengthening exercises from the TPI training programme. Picture: Kestutis Anuzis

Peter performing one of the stability and core strengthening exercises from the TPI training programme.
Picture: Kestutis Anuzis

For every Rory McIlroy there are hundreds if not thousands of professional golfers who try to make it on tour.  In Ireland alone around a dozen amateurs turn professional every year.  In addition to the European Challenge Tour, there are several mini-tours which offer aspiring professionals a chance to put a card in their pocket every week.  However the pro-tours are not cheap to compete in, as Peter explains:  “An average week on any of the pro tours
in Europe will cost €1,000 at least [entry fees, travel and accommodation], tour school entry is €2,000 and that’s before you buy yourself a sandwich.  At no point would I moan about my time as a tour player, I achieved quite a lot in my career and it has led me to meet all the people that are now closest to me so there are no sour grapes.  Professional golf is an amazing occupation provided the path is clear for your schedule but more importantly your mind.   I could never jump the financial hurdle that would have allowed me to forget everything and send the ball where it needed it to go.  Travelling the world with your clubs to play the best courses week after week is a great experience but the bank balance was always lurking in the back of my mind.  It used make me sick to think of the emails and phone calls I had to make to a fantastic network of close friends I had around me to ask for sponsorship to keep the show on the road.”

Now 33, Peter can look back on his time on tour without the emotion of being actively involved and he described bow his time on tour came to an end: “in 2013, I had enough.  I had played 9 weeks in a row leading into tour school.  I had only planned to play 5 but I started to play well and got a top ten finish in Austria which meant an invite to the following week in Germany.  I played well again in Germany so it was off to France.  Luke (Dennehy) was on the bag for me in France, I started swinging the club a little loose and the course wasn’t exactly my type of course.  Where I would usually be practicing on the wet compact sand of Garretstown beach to hone my ball striking for tour school, I was starting to get a little concerned about my preparation for the following week.   Fast forward a week later, a missed cut in France.  I would usually have qualified with ease but this time, my stretch on the road caught up with me.  Lazy swings and a frustrated mind, the golfing walls closed in on me which was a great pity as I knew Luke was nearly more up for it than myself at the time.  I eventually missed the qualifying spots by 2 shots and knew at that time that I had had enough of this fight.”

Q School Challenges

Peter performning one of  exercises from the TPI training programme. Picture: Kestutis Anuzis

Peter performing one of exercises from the TPI training programme.
Picture: Kestutis Anuzis

“Being financially independent on tour has always been my biggest challenge and even now I meet young kids with huge aspirations and I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, but I can’t help thinking “I hope you know what you’re getting into”.  The financial challenge is immense. I have no doubt in my ability as a player, was I good enough to play on the European tour – Absolutely!  Do I have any regrets – No, I gave it my all.  I missed out for senior international cap in 2008 but I knew I was a better player than I was getting recognition for, I knew I had guts to compete at a higher level.  I entered European Tour school as an amateur, holed a 20 foot putt on the final green at St Anne’s links to qualify and I can still remember the elation, I was starting to move to a different level.  I practiced my tail off for the next two months before stage two in Jerez in Spain.  I was surprisingly comfortable, playing nicely I qualified 2nd at the stage qualifying for the final qualifying school in San Roque in Spain which would mean I would have at the very least a card on the European challenge tour.  In the space of a few months, I went from not making my international team to playing for a chance to play with the best players.  Final stage at the time was a little daunting, I wasn’t technically good enough and to be honest felt a little out of my depth.  I went to tour school 7 times during my career and looking back played some of my best golf under huge pressure, I enjoyed the feeling of pressure which I knew would stand to me.”

Part 1: Peter O’Keeffe, still in love with the game of Golf

Part 3: Luke Dennehy: Sports Specific Training the Way Forward