UN­DER­COVER TOUR PRO

When hav­ing an agent isn’t worth it

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents 11/18 -

Why I fired my agent.

LASTYEAR I red my agent.It was on a Sun­day.I signed my card, and in­stead of pack­ing up in the locker room, I sug­gested the two of us get a ta­ble on the club­house ter­race and or­der drinks. I think he knew it was com­ing. He reps other play­ers, and I still see him out here.We’ll talk pleas­antries. He’s got a few po­litely prac­ticed lies. Re­ally, M is a de­cent guy. He was with me dur­ing the peak play­ing days of my ca­reer, when I was sin­gle, and he was fun to pal around with. Sun­day nights are sleepy in most cities, but you can nd ac­tion if you’re with the right run­ning dog. Of course, most of our time to­gether was just chill­ing, grab­bing din­ner or driv­ing to the air­port.When the day is done, no mat­ter how you played, it’s nice hav­ing at least loose plans to con­nect with some­one. Ide­ally, they al­ready know your birdies and bo­geys, so you can choose to talk about them or not.

For a long time that per­son for me was M, but then I got mar­ried, and my wife started trav­el­ling with me more.

I used to sort of rel­ish telling peo­ple to “talk to my agent.” It sounded cool, and those magic words could make any­one I didn’t want to deal with im­me­di­ately dis­ap­pear. It was af­ter about my sec­ond win that walk­ing around at a tour event got un­pre­dictable. When you don’t know if a trip from the park­ing lot to the chip­ping green is go­ing to take three min­utes or 30, it’s hard to plan your day. Then you’ve lost con­trol. Prac­tice time starts to re­volve around me­dia and spon­sor obli­ga­tions in­stead of the other way. Thurs­days would come, and I’d feel re­lieved be­cause I knew no one would bother me once the tour­na­ment started. M was per­cep­tive. All he needed was the slight­est hint, and he’d throt­tle back ap­point­ments or be there to walk with me.

But an agent’s rst pri­or­ity is them­selves. This is true of any­one in busi­ness. That’s why I tell younger play­ers they also need a lawyer and an ac­coun­tant. Ev­ery­one un­der you should be per­form­ing checks and bal­ances. Also, go with an agent who won’t ac­cept a dime un­til you make it to the PGA Tour. If he wants a piece of your $30 000 Web.com Tour equip­ment deal, tell him to hit the road. It’s a clas­sic sleazy move: An agent gets a young player to change just so he can col­lect an easy six grand. Un­less a player has some qual­ity that makes him a mar­keter’s dream, club deals are stan­dard­ised, and you don’t need an agent to land one. On the PGA Tour, pretty much ev­ery­body ex­cept the su­per­stars gets $250 000 per year, plus the same in­cen­tivised bonuses for win­ning.

I used to pay my agent 20 per­cent of the value of my deals, and then we made it 10 per­cent. We both knew he was be­com­ing su­per uous. I’ve had the same two non-en­demic spon­sors on my shirt and bag for years. I’ve de­vel­oped close re­la­tion­ships with the “golf” rep­re­sen­ta­tives of these two cor­po­ra­tions, and so e ec­tively, these two guys have be­come my agents. If the par­tic­u­lars around an out­ing need to be ar­ranged, they email me di­rectly. In my 20s, this might have been too much of a dis­trac­tion, but at this stage of my ca­reer, I pre­fer be­ing in charge of my a airs.

I could be wrong, but I feel like there are more agents out here than ever be­fore. The very top play­ers ab­so­lutely need a per­son or even a team ne­go­ti­at­ing on their be­half. There’s just so much money at stake. But I fore­see a gen­eral cor­rec­tion, just as we see in other in­dus­tries in a dy­namic econ­omy. More golfers are go­ing to re­alise what I have: Be­ing agent-free isn’t a bad way to be.

“M” is a de­cent guy, but he’s got a few po­litely prac­tised lies.

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