Rookie diary: Pumped about being home
PGA Tour rookie Nate Smith blogs exclusively for Golfweek.com. Here is his latest installment:
Wednesdays are awesome for PGA Tour rookies. We don’t get into the Pro-Am so it’s basically a rest day. Most players will go to the course to practice and make any last-minute adjustments to their equipment. I live here in Palm Beach Gardens so after a brief practice session this morning I came back to the house to go fishing and hang by the pool. I also had Jerry the Pest Guy come and spray the outside of my house for bugs. What is it about pest guys that makes them so weird? I’m going to blame that one on the consistent exposure to chemicals.
I wasn’t sure I would get into this tournament until I arrived here on Monday morning. For players in my category the first reshuffle was after last week’s Mayakoba Classic in Mexico. Luckily I made the cut in Mexico and even though I didn’t play very well, the money I made helped me get into the Honda Classic. Of course, the little putt I missed on the last hole at Pebble Beach cost me five spots and maybe a chance to get into the Transitions, but that’s golf! It’s funny how you may not remember a great putt you made to save par, but you will always remember one you missed that you felt you should have made. Of course, it could just be that I’m mentally prone to focusing on the negative.
There is a lot of pressure on the first-year players out here because the deck is stacked against them to keep their card. We have fewer opportunities to compete and the purses we play for are generally smaller so when we have the opportunity it is important to play well. I figure that I can use all of the help that I need so I have grown a “good luck mustache”. I started it last week in Mexico and it should be nice and full by the time Puerto Rico rolls around next week.
It’s pretty cool to stay at my house and play in a PGA Tour event just down the road. I can do my laundry, shop out of my own closet and even sleep in my own bed! I have my friend Andres Gonzales and my caddie Brian staying with me as well this week. I also know all the good restaurants around here so I will definitely be doing some good eating this week!
When I first turned professional in 2006 I moved down to the Jupiter area and started playing some mini-tour events trying to get my foot in the door. I didn’t have a place to play so I wrote emails and called every club in the area asking them to extend me some playing and practices privileges. The only person who responded was the Head Pro at PGA National at the time, Bob Coman. He set me up with a discounted rate on range balls and let me play the courses for just a cart fee. I tried to play the Champion Course, the site of this week’s event, as much as possible. What a golf course! There are no easy holes out there and you better bring your A-game or you will be well on your way to a high score.
The real dilemma I had was whether to fish for bass or snook. The bass are just coming off their beds in Florida since the water has been warming up and so they are ripe for the picking. The ponds on the golf course have some monsters, so I am going to try to make it over there at some point. Recently I have been fishing for snook out in the back of my house on the Intracoastal Waterway. They are great to fish for because they love to fight and are tough to catch. I usually use some live shrimp and float them down the current, preferably near some structure on the bottom. Then the fun begins!
I feel like my game is starting to come around and I am excited to compete against a world-class field this week. It’s always exciting when the top players in the world are here and that is the case with a few of the Euros making the trip over.
Finally, and most importantly, I just joined Twitter so you can follow me and read my random thoughts @NateSmithPGA.