Playing professional golf for a living isn’t all private jets and big prize purses. Just ask Braden Becker.
The 27-year-old West Australian became the first reserve for this week’s World Super 6 Perth on Monday after multiple players withdrew. Becker then proceeded to hang around Lake Karrinyup Country Club preparing, in the hope of getting a start in the tri-sanctioned tournament.
“It’s just more the fact that you feel like you should have done enough last year to guarantee it, and that I didn’t, just waiting and waiting, it’s just the way it is I suppose,” Becker told Golf Australia of the frustration of sitting around for four days with no control over the outcome. “Hit some balls, do some putting, use the facilities for some practice hopefully for the next three weeks that we’ve got. So, even if I don’t get in, just grind it out and do some more practice so it doesn’t happen again for future tournaments.”
That Becker was left to wait in the wings in the hope that another player’s injury or travel issues might open an extra spot in the field is no surprise, and happens each and every week.
Becker however, as the 46thplayer on the PGA Tour of Australasia money list for 2018 would have earned a place in the World Super 6 field by five spots in both 2018 and 2019. But the former Mandurah Country Club trainee didn’t bemoan his position, instead placing the responsibility on himself and his play last year, while also emphasising the benefits for his hometown event due to the stronger European Tour presence this week of the back of last week’s co-sanctioned Vic Open.
“It is obviously tough, but I’m looking at it from the fact that I could of got myself in if I had a couple of decent last rounds at the Aussie Open and PGA last year. I played really good for the first three days at both of those events and struggled on the last day, not for any reason but I hadn’t been in that position before.
“One shot better at either one of those and I was in the field in front of the next guy. But it’s definitely a tough one to swallow, especially being in your home state and a golf course that I’ve played a bucket load of times. On the good side I suppose, it’s only cost me a tank of fuel to be here for the week. It’s not like I had to fly to New Zealand to wait around as first reserve. That would be a bigger pill to swallow.”
“But obviously with this tournament coming off the back of Vic Open it’s definitely obviously encouraged a stronger European field that turn up, which is awesome for the event and hopefully that actually works in our favour that we actually get to keep the event around. So, if I’m not in the field, it means that there’s a stronger field out there, that’s always a bonus.”
Becker’s wait didn’t end the way he and his friends and family in the local area would have hoped, with Kiwi Josh Geary, who was the first European Tour reserve also missing out after flying in from New Zealand. But had the up and comer earnt a place in the field at Karrinyup, he was confident his days as an apprentice golf pro would have him ready to play well at a moment’s notice.
“Obviously doing my traineeship for three years, there have been plenty of times when I have been straight out of the Pro Shop on the tee read to fire up and go. And shot good scores.”
Despite not getting his chance, Becker will now play the next three weeks on the PGA Tour of Australasia determined to not let the same thing happen again in 2019. And the likeable player has plenty of support from his fellow professionals and the golf public in Western Australia for far more than his impressive playing ability.
Along with his girlfriend, and fellow professional, Hayley Bettencourt, Becker travels around Australia playing pro-am events in a camper van, even driving across Australia. The two putting on clinics and giving golf lessons at remote golf clubs without a golf pro on site.
And if Becker’s positive attitude towards the occasional tough break like missing out this week and his commitment to ensure it won’t happen again continue, he might find himself closer to the more glamorous side of the game before long.
“I am guaranteed into the next three, which is Queensland PGA next week and then New Zealand Open is obviously the big one, so hopefully play well there, make some money and keep your card then this year finish it off at the Aussie Open and PGA.”