Video by The Fire Pit Collective
Everyone who plays golf knows that it can be a grind. It’s especially true for those who are trying to make their living playing professional golf. The Fire Pit Collective has captured some of these stories – welcome to The Grind, an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the trials and tribulations of professional golf, and what it takes to make it.
Mark Baldwin and Ryan French
The premiere episode of The Grind features Mark Baldwin, the definition of a journeyman Tour player. Baldwin has played professional golf for 16 years on at least eight different Tours, including PGA Tour, Korn Ferry Tour, PGA Tour Canada, European Tour, Asian Tour, Korean Tour, Japan Tour and Australian Tour. From all accounts, there’s no denying that Mark has the game to compete on any Tour.
We meet Mark as his Korn Ferry Tour status is running out in 2021. He had four events at the end of the year that he could skip the pre-qualifier and play in the Monday qualifier to try and get into that week’s PGA Tour event.
We are also introduced to Ryan French in this episode. Ryan is part of The Fire Pit Collective, author of Monday Q Info on Twitter (@acaseofthegolf1), and Mark’s good friend and caddie.
They take place on the Monday before the tournament starts on Thursday. There are 75-100 golfers vying for four spots. It usually takes a score of 66 (-6) to earn one of those four spots. Monday qualifiers go on to make the cut just 28 percent of the time.
So the question is often asked, if you have beat 70+ other guys just to get into the tournament, then you only have a 28 percent chance of even making the cut to earn money, why do it? As Mark explains, “The rewards showered on the players are just so enticing.” IF you can make it, it is life changing. Ryan also offers up some insight into why Mark continues to chase this dream, simply stating that he loves the game so much and believes he can make it to the PGA Tour.
Life on the Road
Mark’s biggest fans and supporters are his wife and young son, so there’s a delicate balance of family life and life on the road chasing your dream. Before Mark can even settle in and focus on his game, a health scare with his son turns his attention to his family thousands of miles away. These decisions on whether he should come home immediately or stay for the Monday qualifier are an added layer to the grind. After a doctor visit for his son and reassurance from his wife, Mark stays and competes. One can only imagine what kind of headspace Mark was in going into that round.
A hot start, but mid-round struggles saw Mark miss by four shots at the Bermuda qualifier. And unfortunately, for most pro golfers chasing Mondays, missing is an all-to-common theme.
Professional golf is littered with obstacles that must be overcome if someone wants to make it. Expenses is one of the big ones. Each Monday qualifier Mark competes in costs over $1,000. Each miss means no money coming in. It also means added pressure of having to perform your best every time you tee it up.
And just when Mark gets his game on track at the Big Money Classic with a chance at possibly having some money come his way, another obstacle pops up as Mark gets Covid. He goes into quarantine and is unable to compete.
There’s nothing he can do but get healthy, keep grinding and hope that he can take advantage of his next opportunity.