Wednesday, May 24, 2017

So You're Going On Tour - Now What?

Guest writer Courtney Elder provides some insight into what tour life can be like, as she visited a few events earlier this year in a media capacity.
For most of us who have been bitten by the disc golf bug, going on tour and getting to play for a living might sound like heaven on earth. Getting sponsored by a well-known company and having their support on the road is invaluable, yet can tour be a reality even without this backing?

The answer is yes, with a certain expectation in mind: if you choose to tour on your own, be prepared for some challenges and to spend a lot more money than you might think. Let’s use a real-life example to give a little more insight into this type of commitment.

Does No Sponsor Equal No Problems?

Let’s say that you’re killing it at your local tournaments and it’s clear that you have real potential to make a name for yourself by going on tour and competing across the country. Having a solid disc golf community in your hometown is awesome, but what if that doesn’t quite translate while you’re on the road?

Deciding to tour and essentially “do it yourself” without a sponsor means a number of things. First and foremost, you’ll be paying all of your own entry fees. You might be used to paying $70 or so for your local B-tier, but get ready to fork over up to several hundred per event when you’re on the road. Unless you do well enough to cash, that’s money that you’re not recovering.

The Nitty Gritty Of It

Earlier this year, my husband, two kids, and I went on a “mini-tour” to provide some media coverage at a few events. Some of you might have seen us at The Gentlemen’s Club Challenge and also at The Memorial. Not ever having embarked on this kind of trip before, our journey was similar to that of a first time touring pro. While we weren’t playing, it still gave us insights into how unglamorous tour life can be.

It was amazing how quickly we got used to a 10-hour car trip, and at the same time, it really hit home for us what it means when people talk about tour being a grind. You spend a ton of hours on the road, and even though you’re just sitting in a car, it can be exhausting. For those of you that have a vehicle with good gas mileage, traveling from your hometown to several events and back can easily cost a few hundred dollars.

Now here’s where it’s about to get real everyone. On the way from Portland, OR to Las Vegas, NV we had car trouble. We were running on a super tight schedule and didn’t have time to get the car checked out, so we had a super sketchy drive through the desert into Phoenix. After spending half the day in the dealership lobby, we got to pay $600 to fix the car, or else be in jeopardy of not making it home. That certainly wasn’t factored into the tour budget.

Food And Lodging

Go back to the scenario of a golfer going on tour for the first time who isn’t super connected to the nationwide community. Many times people luck out and can find a living room to crash in, but if not, you’re paying to sleep somewhere. We didn’t have much luck finding a place to accommodate two adults and two crazy kids, so we opted for the motel route. Spending less money on a room seems smart, right?

Let me tell you, in the world of lodging you get what you pay for. Even with a super low-quality room that left us driving 40 minutes to and from the course every day, each stop on our tour cost about $300 just in motel fees.

But since we opted for a cheap room that must have paid off in the end right? What we failed to realize is that with a low-cost room we had no way of preparing or even storing food (we’re talking no microwave or fridge). There was no choice but to eat out nearly every single meal, which meant the money we saved on lodging went straight into our stomachs.

The Moral Of The Story

Now remember, we weren’t competing so we didn’t give ourselves the chance to earn any of this money back through winning. Obviously, that’s one piece to the puzzle that would be present for anyone who is seriously touring, but again, unless you’re performing exceptionally well, how are you going to offset the hundreds of dollars you spent just getting there?

The bottom line is that going on tour is so much harder than most people think it is. Not only does it affect your bank account but it adds a mental stress that’s so much different than when you’re competing at home. If you’re thinking about hitting the road for the first time, make sure to get yourself connected with others on tour. Having a support system, as well as enough money, will help you to sustain tour life and hopefully ease some pressure so you can put on your best performance possible.
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