A long, imposing stretch of the great plains separated Danielle La Voie from a flight she was certain she would miss, necessitating a dash in a rental car that burned more gas than her meager paycheck covered. Left behind was the glamour usually associated with the life of a tour pro.
La Voie was in Wichita, Kan., where she had tied for 60th in a Futures Golf Tour event to earn $36. The tour was moving to Denver, where the forecast called for snow, persuading her to withdraw and return home to Napa, Calif., to prepare for a U.S. Women's Open qualifier. Her nonrefundable airline ticket required that she fly from Denver, hence the 600-mile, high-speed run from Wichita. Meanwhile, the agency from which she had rented her car insisted she take another to Denver, so she began her Monday morning by exchanging cars in Wichita.
Ten hours and a $100 speeding ticket later, the last passenger to board, La Voie took her seat on a flight home...where she would fail in her Open qualifier. "There are some days," La Voie says, "that I would rather be doing something else."
Tour golf through the prism of a television presents professional golfers earning lucrative livings, but it fails to show a competing reality: For players beyond the range of the camera, tour golf can be grueling, maddening, humbling...and costly.
Late last season, we identified the 100th leading money-winners from six tours (the PGA, LPGA, Senior PGA, Buy.com, NGA Hooters and Futures) and asked them to open up their lives and financial books. Their 2001 earnings ranged from $407,065 (Brandt Jobe, who eventually slipped to 124th on the PGA Tour) to $2,104 (La Voie, on the Futures Tour). None of them won a tournament, but they were all in agreement that a life on tour beats the 9-to-5 alternative. "There are thousands of people who would like to be out there shooting the scores I was shooting," says the Senior PGA Tour's Bill Holstead. "There are lots of people who would want to trade places."
Senior PGA Tour
NGA Hooters Tour
Danielle La Voie
Futures Golf Tour
|Earnings per event||$13,569||$2,337||$2,112||$2,350||$417||$117|
|2001 GOLF EXPENSES|
|Tournament entry fees||$0||$150 per event||$100 per event||$100 per event||$650-$900 per event||$320 per event|
|Airfare||$600 per week||$2,500 in 2001||$350 per week||$225 per week||$0||$1,200 in 2001|
|Rental car||$1,000 per year||$1,500 per year||Courtesy car||$220 per week||$0||$225 per week|
|Lodging||$1,000 per week||$500 per week||$700 per week||$350 per week||$150 per week||$350 per week|
|Food, incidentals||$400 per week||$120 per week||$250 per week||$140 per week||$115 per week||$115 per week|
|Caddie||$800, plus a percentage of earnings||$650, plus a percentage of earnings||$600, plus a percentage of earnings||$450, plus a percentage of earnings||$0 (carried his bag to cut expenses)||$0, event provided volunteer caddies|
|2001 PERSONAL EXPENSES|
|Mortgage payment||$2,500||$1,300||House is paid off||$1,400||$950||$950 rent|
|Big-ticket treat to self||A new Chevy Suburban||A new home for $200,000||A new Buick Park Avenue for his wife||A Las Vegas home for about $200,000||A new townhouse||A digital camera|
|ON A PERSONAL NOTE|
|Expenses increase dramatically when he travels with wife and daughter.||Drives her van to most tournaments, and occasionally stays with friends on the road.||Made a bit more from golf than he did from his brick business.||Often shares rental car and lodging with another player.||Has a sponsor, Fred Price.||Often stays with friends or with host families arranged by the tournament.|
By John Strege