The season is winding down. The PGA Tour finished up at Disney and Stephen Ames, the winner, wasn’t the happiest man in Mickey’s Kingdom, Nicholas Thompson was ecstatic after going low Sunday moving from 138 on the money list inside the top 125 and retaining his playing privileges for next year. Without that low round Nicholas would have been traveling the Nationwide Tour with a few stops on the PGA.

Big name players who lost their exempt privileges, David Duval, Tim Herron, Billy Mayfair, to name a few, will still see plenty of action through sponsor exemptions. Once you’ve established yourself, supported the tournaments over the years, you may fall out of the top 125 but still get plenty of playing time. The younger players aren’t so lucky; they’re fighting for the life each year.

A couple of youngsters, Jamie Lovemark and Ricky Fowler made a run for their cards but fell short. They’ll have to join the crew in the Tour School grist mill roaming some obscure fairways without galleries grinding for their cards. The next couple weeks the second stage of school will take place throughout the Southeast and the lucky, some say unlucky, qualifiers will head for Palm Beach, FL and the final six rounds of qualifying school. There isn’t much adrenaline flowing, there is a lot of anxiety not knowing what your playing status will be next year.

Caddies are scrambling for jobs roaming the second stage parking lots searching for that new young pro that is going to make it big. Phone lines to instructors, agents, and other pros are seeking that top 125 job on the PGA Tour. It may be time to make a change from that old fading pro to a young buck, or there may have been a recent firing, maybe one on the horizon that relegates a caddy to the tour school parking lots.

Anthony Kim fired his caddy, Eric Larson, a few weeks back; you may find him carousing the second stage schools. Penthouse to outhouse happens quickly out here. You’re riding high one week then all of the sudden your pro wants to make a change and bring a friend out for awhile. Talking with Eric in Jackson, MS he was a bit shaken but looking toward the future. He was shaking his head and really didn’t know why he was fired. It happens this time of year.

The lucky ones, players and caddies, playing in the “Fun Season” established for TV and the top players, will be raking in the dough without any pressure at all. They will be dining together and enjoying drinks after the round in the clubhouse, something unheard of on during the regular PGA Tour events. The top 125 players and caddies get to choose what they want to do in the off season. Some play in the “Fun Season” if invited, others travel overseas for a few relaxing events, and many throw their clubs in the garage forgetting about golf for awhile.

November and December are transition months on the PGA Tour. Guys may be changing clubs, balls, agents, caddies, sponsors and hopefully it’s all for the good and a more rewarding year in 2010. If you run through the fields of the second stage schools you will see a lot of recognizable names still trying to stay on tour. They would love to be somewhere else but there is only room for a chosen few and it’s a very fine line. An extra putt falling during a tournament means the difference of a top 125 exemption or tour school. Grinding over that four footer in April might make a big difference in November; you might not be relaxing at Tiger’s tournament or Greg’s, but at least you won’t be wringing your hands working your way through school.

The LPGA has one more event next week and they may not be playing again until March; their tour is in turmoil right now. At least the guys have some place to play every week. I’ll be in Houston next week working the LPGA Tour Championship and seeing what these transition months bring for me.


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