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My Experience Caddying in a Monday Qualifier


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Fantastic post, thanks for taking the time to share that.

It's a good reality check when you say Matt is a +4/5 and still struggling to make it.  Also, this is another example for everyone to learn how important ball striking is.  It's funny how you really didn't say much about "short game" because for the most part, from what I'm gathering from your experience, Matt and the rest of the players in the group were hitting greens all day long.

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This past Monday I caddied for mini tour player Matt Snyder in a Monday qualifier for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Matt lives in Vegas, plays on the eGolf Tour and his instr

And to try and add a little bit of perspective for us handicap golfers here: The course is rated 74.4/136. There were 151 guys who returned a score. The winning score, in terms of

http://www.golfdigest.com/story/these-monday-qualifying-scores-show-how-unreasonably-hard-it-is-to-play-on-the-pga-tour?mbid=social_facebook  

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How much do you win if you qualify? Does qualifying count towards your ranking? If the qualifier fee is $200, I can only imagine the fee if you qualify for the PGA Tour event.

I don't think you win any money if you qualify. I'm not sure about the rankings, I would assume it does count.

If a player who is not a member of the tour qualifies for a PGA Tour event, he must pay what the tour calls "limited dues" of $50, but he pays no other entry fee.

Sounds like a fun day. More for you than for him though.....

Do you have any info on the pre-qualifier? What did it take just to get to the actual qualifier?

Matt shot 69, I'm not sure what the other scores were to get in. Fortunately you don't have to shoot 64 to get to the qualifier ;-)

Thanks for the insight into the pre-qualifier... and the slogan "These guys are good" really means those guys are good. Shooting in the 60's just to qualify. Man, I can't imagine that... but then again, I can't imagine breaking 100.

Did you wear golf shoes for the walking or tennis shoes? And if they were golf shoes, were they soft spikes or spikeless?

I wore my regular golf shoes, TRUE Oxford.

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It's a good reality check when you say Matt is a +4/5 and still struggling to make it.

IMO if you're not shooting around 67 every time you go out, on an average course, you should stick with your day job, or find one.

Also, this is another example for everyone to learn how important ball striking is.  It's funny how you really didn't say much about "short game" because for the most part, from what I'm gathering from your experience, Matt and the rest of the players in the group were hitting greens all day long.

Yep, it's extremely important. Their short games are good as well, but that's not what's separating them from your club champs/scratch golfers.

Also if you have decent full swing mechanics you typically have a decent short game, pitching and chipping. There are certainly some differences between full swing mechanics and pitching but you don't see good ball strikers chunking/thinning shots around the greens very often.

They know how to control their distances around the greens because their contact is good, they make the same basic swing every time and vary their backswing lengths or club selection.

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I used to think it would be cool to be a pro golfer. Now I'm simply glad that I can earn a living without having to spend my weekends trying to qualify to come to work on Monday! B-)

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I used to think it would be cool to be a pro golfer. Now I'm simply glad that I can earn a living without having to spend my weekends trying to qualify to come to work on Monday!B-)

Not quite....they're spending Monday working in the hope of getting to work the next weekend! :bugout:

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If you could give us 6 strokes that Matt could have improved on his round to make the playoff , what would it be?

missed putts? better chipping/pitching? Better tee ball? Approach shot? what combination of strokes?

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You had to shoot 64 just to get in the playoff. Think about that for a second.


I have tried many a times. I can't even for a second. :bugout:

Thanks Mike. Love posts like these. The professional talent pool is so deep, it always makes you wonder what is so different about a mini tour and a PGA tour player. One good week? I mean there are PGA winners (not just players) that don't get through!!

BTW a professional caddie wouldn't be a bad day job.

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If you could give us 6 strokes that Matt could have improved on his round to make the playoff , what would it be?

missed putts? better chipping/pitching? Better tee ball? Approach shot? what combination of strokes?

- He missed a 2 foot birdie putt on the last hole.

- He hit one drive in a hazard. It was on one of the par 5's that was converted into a par 4 and he wasn't sure what to hit off the tee. Couldn't use a range finder and the yardage book didn't give any distances to certain part of the fairway, how far it was to carry a hazard or how far some bunkers were. Matt carried it over the hazard but he pushed it and it went into the hazard on the right side. Houses and cart path all down the left side, it was a weird hole.

- One par 3 he hit a 5 iron that must have gone 220 uphill, got a bad bounce and went into some rocks over the green. Ended up making a good bogey.

Other than that he just needed to hit a couple more greens, hit a few of those shots closer and make more birdies. It basically comes down to improving his approach shots/proximity to the hole. Matt gave himself too many "long" birdie putts. He hit 12 GIR and I would be surprised if the guys that qualified hit more than 15. Let's say the average GIR for the four players that qualified was 14. So not only did they hit a couple more greens but there is a very good chance that they were hitting their approach shots, on average, closer to the hole.

His putting and green reading is good, his pitching/chipping is solid (almost holed a couple pitches).  I know Matt has made some big changes to his swing in the last year so I think this part of his game will keep getting better.

The professional talent pool is so deep, it always makes you wonder what is so different about a mini tour and a PGA tour player. One good week?

It's more than just one good week.

Here's a big part of what the difference is, can also read what I wrote above:

http://thesandtrap.com/t/77121/what-if-scenario-pga-tour-becomes-an-all-putting-tour-or-an-all-ballstriking-tour#post_1053842

http://thesandtrap.com/t/14930/is-the-long-game-more-important-than-short-game/144#post_914889

http://thesandtrap.com/t/14930/is-the-long-game-more-important-than-short-game/90#post_914540

http://thesandtrap.com/t/14930/is-the-long-game-more-important-than-short-game/72#post_914432

http://thesandtrap.com/t/14930/is-the-long-game-more-important-than-short-game/72#post_914442

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1. Did he or any of the other players hit any "stingers?"  I watched a 2nd stage Q-school in 2012 and I saw quite a few 3 wood stingers hit off the tee. Granted the fairways were pretty hard (dormant bermuda) and it was moderately windy.

2. Did he move the ball forward or back in his stance or make any other changes to set up or posture to control ball flight? Or did he just hit his standard push draw all day, regardless of wind or other factors, ball played in the same places according to club used?

3. Did he hit any fades? Fade tee shots on dog leg rights?  Or did he just go with his stock shot regardless of the situation?

4. What kind of grip (weak, neutral, strong) did he use?

5. Did he seem completely engrossed (blissfully so) in what he was doing?

6. When he couldn't hit his stock shot was he still able to recover and make par or birdie?

Thanks for sharing your Monday Qualifier experience.  Very interesting.

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1. Did he or any of the other players hit any "stingers?"  I watched a 2nd stage Q-school in 2012 and I saw quite a few 3 wood stingers hit off the tee. Granted the fairways were pretty hard (dormant bermuda) and it was moderately windy.

Not really. Some of the irons off the tee might have had the ball slightly back of where he normally plays it but they weren't "stinger" shots. Wasn't that much wind.

2. Did he move the ball forward or back in his stance or make any other changes to set up or posture to control ball flight? Or did he just hit his standard push draw all day, regardless of wind or other factors, ball played in the same places according to club used?

With the driver the ball would have been the most forward, off or just in front of his left shoulder.

Some of the full wedge shots that were "flighted" had the ball middle/front of his stance. Not a huge variation on ball position for the approach shots.

Yes, stuck with his push draw all day.

3. Did he hit any fades? Fade tee shots on dog leg rights?  Or did he just go with his stock shot regardless of the situation?

Matt's fade is basically a straight shot. He maybe tried to "fade it" twice. Two approach shots come to mind where the pin was tucked on the right edge of the green.

Off the tee the shots were all push draws, he missed two fairways all day. Also when I'm talking about these push draws they are only curving 5 yards or so, shot can still work on a dogleg right.

4. What kind of grip (weak, neutral, strong) did he use?

Slightly strong.

5. Did he seem completely engrossed (blissfully so) in what he was doing?

I'm not sure what you mean by blissfully but yes he was focused on every shot. I was impressed with his composure, he seemed comfortable in competition and emotionally stayed very level. We were having a pretty normal conversation between every shot.

6. When he couldn't hit his stock shot was he still able to recover and make par or birdie?

Was never a situation where he couldn't hit his stock shot, it's not like he draws it 20 yards or something ;-)

I think the only shot where he didn't feel comfortable was the tee shot on 12, the par 5 converted to a par 4 that I mentioned in my last post.

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Thanks for answering my questions, Mike.  It would be interesting to see if Matt could play a fairly tight course like Harbor Town (lots of overhanging tree limbs and tree lined fairways) by just hitting his stock 5 yard push draw (really just a straight shot) all day long.

Maybe on these desert courses the player isn't as obstructed (on approach shots from the first cut or rough) by overhanging tree limbs and there's no incentive to work the ball?

Also, it's interesting to hear that even if there was a water hazard on Matt's left, he would still hit his stock draw, rather than try to take it out of play by hitting a fade.

Was Matt playing cast irons like Pings---that might have (marginally) assisted him in hitting it so straight? Or was he using forged muscle back or cut muscle back irons?

Were there any equipment characteristics that were allowing him to hit it so straight? Extra stiff iron shafts?    X-100's?

What would you estimate his driver swing speed to be? 115mph?  Thanks, again.

Yes, and I totally agree with your premise:   "Ballstriking" and GIR are what these guys do better than the mere mortal golfers who wish they could play like them.

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Thanks for answering my questions, Mike.  It would be interesting to see if Matt could play a fairly tight course like Harbor Town (lots of overhanging tree limbs and tree lined fairways) by just hitting his stock 5 yard push draw (really just a straight shot) all day long.

Don't you contradict yourself?

Of course he could. You call the five-yard draw "really just a straight shot" but ask if he could play a tighter course? I'm confused. Why would that pose a problem?

Maybe on these desert courses the player isn't as obstructed (on approach shots from the first cut or rough) by overhanging tree limbs and there's no incentive to work the ball?

95% of the shots any player who is Web.com-tour level or thereabouts (and higher) are their stock shot. I think you have the wrong idea about how much (or how seldom) the top players "work the ball" on the top tours. It's not very often - only when forced to by a trouble shot or a severe dogleg or something.

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I

Don't you contradict yourself?

Of course he could. You call the five-yard draw "really just a straight shot" but ask if he could play a tighter course? I'm confused. Why would that pose a problem?

95% of the shots any player who is Web.com-tour level or thereabouts (and higher) are their stock shot. I think you have the wrong idea about how much (or how seldom) the top players "work the ball" on the top tours. It's not very often - only when forced to by a trouble shot or a severe dogleg or something.

Let me try to clarify:

We have a lot of pine trees that line the fairways here in Florida (pretty much everywhere in the South). Fairways cut out of very thick pine woods---think Augusta or TPC Stadium Course. The push draw off the tee doesn't always draw (even for players on these developmental tours like E-Golf and Web.com) and then you're left with the push in the right rough.  When you're drive is on the right side of the fairway with overhanging tree limbs blocking your "stock 5 yard draw" approach you kind of have to cut it.   I recently attended a 2nd stage Q-school event and I found the shots they hit to have quite a bit of movement....mostly left. I saw a lot of draws with 20 yards of movement. There was about a 15mph-20mph wind out there and it was actually a pretty open course.  You must be talking about completely windless conditions. For the ball to move only 5 yards on a 200 yard iron shot, I'd say that's dead calm wind conditions,  or maybe downwind, unless you're holding your push draw against a left to right breeze which I suppose could account for a shot that's virtually straight.  Obviously wedges are going to go pretty straight. I'm thinking of shots in the 175-300 yard range.  5 yards of movement on a 300 yard drive is common on the web.com tour? Really? Is this at the indoor golf course in Dubai?

Bubba Watson works the ball a lot. So does Ricky Fowler.

I guess they're the super elite 5% who are so good that they don't have to just hit their stock shot (comfort zone) every time.

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I  Let me try to clarify: We have a lot of pine trees that line the fairways here in Florida (pretty much everywhere in the South). Fairways cut out of very thick pine woods---think Augusta or TPC Stadium Course. The push draw off the tee doesn't always draw (even for players on these developmental tours like E-Golf and Web.com) and then you're left with the push in the right rough.  When you're drive is on the right side of the fairway with overhanging tree limbs blocking your "stock 5 yard draw" approach you kind of have to cut it.   I recently attended a 2nd stage Q-school event and I found the shots they hit to have quite a bit of movement....mostly left. I saw a lot of draws with 20 yards of movement. There was about a 15mph-20mph wind out there and it was actually a pretty open course.  You must be talking about completely windless conditions. For the ball to move only 5 yards on a 200 yard iron shot, I'd say that's dead calm wind conditions,  or maybe downwind, unless you're holding your push draw against a left to right breeze which I suppose could account for a shot that's virtually straight.  Obviously wedges are going to go pretty straight. I'm thinking of shots in the 175-300 yard range.  5 yards of movement on a 300 yard drive is common on the web.com tour? Really? Is this at the indoor golf course in Dubai?    Bubba Watson works the ball a lot. So does Ricky Fowler.  I guess they're the super elite 5% who are so good that they don't have to just hit their stock shot (comfort zone) every time.

I was fortunate enough to play a round with Graeme McDowell about a year ago. A tight, tree-lined course down here, just like you describe. He hit a 5 yard draw on EVERY shot. Including shots that I would have thought "called" for something else. He shot 63, and never really made a putt.... These guys OWN their stock shot.

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I was fortunate enough to play a round with Graeme McDowell about a year ago. A tight, tree-lined course down here, just like you describe. He hit a 5 yard draw on EVERY shot. Including shots that I would have thought "called" for something else. He shot 63, and never really made a putt....

"These marquee players are especially good."

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Sounds like a great experience!

I had the chance to play when I was in Aguascalientes with some pros - at that time the PGA Latinoamerica didn't exist - so they were players of the Negra Modelo. I beat them from time to time and earned a few bucks from it, now they are making their way to the PGA Tour, some of them are playing in the Web.com Tour now. I guess I just quited in a bad moment. :-(

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