As a young adult consumer, we can read reviews about golf clubs, golf courses, and resorts on sites like Golf Advisor, 3balls.com and Mygolfspy, but where can you read reviews about golf tours and tournaments that exist out there? Since we are biased and cannot review Nextgengolf events, we have asked some of our customers that have played on multiple tours to share their opinion for other young adults.
This article about the Golf Channel Am Tour is the first in a series of “Tour Review” pieces that will provide insight into different golf tournament opportunities out there for young adults.
Shaun is a competitor in the Nextgengolf City Tour as well as a competitor on the Golf Channel Am Tour. Shaun highlights the pros and cons of the Am Tour which he describes as birdies (good) and bogeys (bad). Emphasis is mine.
The Golf Channel Am Tour uses Bluegolf (which PGA and everyone else uses) which is cool and makes you feel like your score matters more being posted publicly. Your scorecard is emailed to you immediately after the round and shared via digital leaderboard on-site. My mom texts me about 5 minutes after I sign my card which is a cool thing to know she's watching.
They have a FedEx style points system that dictates entry into regional and national "majors", but really it just makes you play regularly if you want to find yourself on a national stage. Emails with standings are sent weekly to keep you updated on where you are.
They put sponsored signage up around the putting green, range, and in the tournament check in area so it looks somewhat legit, and they announce your name and location upon your tee time. You also are given a trophy which is corny but cool for those of us who never had a huge athletic achievement in the younger years. When I won the tour championship in 2014 it was the best moment of my golf career no question.
Regional and National Majors can really bring together golf fanatics from all over. New England is usually represented well at Nationals and some of the biggest name courses on the national schedule, including Blackwolf Run, Kiawah, TPC Sawgrass, Innsbrook, etc. It's cool to see an 8 hcp from New England take on and beat a +1 from Florida when hilly courses test your versatility (Yes that was me in 2014).
I'd say first off, I can understand some of the expenses associated with running the Am tour. There are a lot of employees around the country running local events, not to mention sometime a full days worth of tee times to pay the course for. In turn, this creates some pretty significant membership and entry fees per tournament. It is a financial burden for someone like me who isn't a lawyer, Doctor, or business owner like the vast majority of members seem to be.
I just paid $179 for my annual renewal, and each local tournament ranges from $115-$200 per day. Most are one day tournaments on Saturday or Sunday. We only play public courses on the New England tour with the one exception yearly being Lake Winnepausaukee, so it's not like we are playing exclusive courses or anything like that. I played the Kiawah major in March and that ran me $595 for two days plus flight and lodging.
I know of several guys who spend between $20-$30k a year playing the Am Tour including the travel around the country and the lodging. These guys (and some women) are super serious about the commitment and love of the game.
The competition is another real mess. The reality of the Golf Channel Am Tour is its full of a bunch of wannabe golfers. As mentioned, there are plenty of HNWI's who show up with a tour bag, the newest drivers, head to toe looking like a Golf Galaxy catalog who SUCK. Am Tour has flights from 0-4 up to 30+. I recently played Kiawah Ocean and a guy shot a 179-181 for his two day total of 360. He has absolutely no reason to be allowed on a tournament venue but Am Tour will gladly take his money and give him the opportunity to post scores like that.
I play the 4-8 handicap flight, and each local tournament I have about 8-10 competitors, of which maybe 3 have a chance to beat me (unless I completely beat myself). Plenty of 8's shoot in the high 90s because they are so inconsistent and only count their best scores. I shot a 77 last year and the round took almost 6 hours because someone in my group shot a 114. I got assessed a 2 stroke penalty for slow play because the guy couldn't hit the ball in the air. He was supposedly a 6 hcp.
You get a fair amount of ignorant cheaters. I'm not a rules expert, but you'll have the weekend casual golfer sign up in your group, or even worse, on your cart who has no clue how to take a drop or understands OB rules. You don't want to get into an argument with someone who is truly ignorant of the rules, but I hate spending a ton of money on a one day tournament for my experience to be ruined by a cheater.
I'm a branding guy, and I believe the Golf Channel Am Tour is the tour for wannabes. It's fine, I'm a wannabe too, but in order to get to the next level I need to go up a rung on the competition ladder and play with younger, better talent. Regardless, the Am Tour has been instrumental in becoming a much better, well rounded golfer and is an excellent, albeit expensive starting point for anyone who wants to use golf as their competitive outlet and healthy habit.