All in the Family

By Jon LevyMarch 28, 2011, 6:01 am
Editor's note: will be following four mini-tour players – Tim Hegarty, Zack Sucher, Benoit Beisser and Jack Newman – over the course of 2011 in our new feature, 'The Minors.' Check in each week for the players' progress, updates, photos and more.

Family. It’s important to a lot of people. It’s everything to Benoit Beisser.

So much so that no matter what he does in life, his sister, dad and mom will be the center of it. Beisser's family-operated golf career is proof of that.

Sister Laura is one of his best friends and a sounding board for everything golf. Dad Nick is the only swing coach he's ever had. And, mom Deanna? She's caddied for him in every big event since he was a kid.

It's already been established Beisser’s his own man.

Behind that man is a support network that transcends the teams of coaches and trainers many touring professionals employ in their stable these days.

Our colorful 'Minors' subject wouldn’t have it any other way.

Benoit Beisser and his sister Laura London
Benoit and Laura at one of Laura's golf tournaments.

“Since junior golf there have always been people telling me how I would be better if I only did . . . fill in the blank,” Beisser chuckles. “What most people don’t realize is that my opinion is all I care about when it comes to my golf.

“Back then the main critique was my golf coach, who was, and still is, my father . . . My dad didn’t grow up playing golf himself but he taught himself to a four handicap. He taught my mom to a club championship and he taught my sister and I to Arizona state championships. That's not too bad in my opinion.

“Still, people today tell me that a high-profile coach will get me to the PGA Tour. But there’s only one person that I trust with my golf swing, and that’s my dad. That’s all it will ever be.”

It's hard to deny Beisser's conviction.

It’s like a badge of honor he and his family wear that they do things their own way – 'the Beisser way.'

Part of that is having his mom by his side when he plays.

“My mom caddies for me because she believes in me and she wants me to succeed,” Beisser explains. “A lot of people think having her on the bag is what's holding me back, but what they don’t realize is that she’s helping me become great. She keeps me in a positive mind-frame and she knows my professional game.

“She’s been on my bag for every Q-School I’ve been to and was my caddie for both PGA Tour events I qualified for.

'I love the fact that I can share those memories with her.”

Like her son, Deanna Beisser is interesting in her own right. 

A world renown writer of inspirational books for the Blue Mountain Arts publishing company, Deanna’s written over half a dozen books, with her most famous, 'Is it Time to Make a Change?,' gaining such popularity it was turned into a paperback and is in many schools and libraries.

It even found its way to China, becoming one of the country's best selling books.

Benoit often takes a quote his mom gives him for the week to focus on for a positive vibe.

“Pretty cool, huh?” he says with a laugh.

About as cool as what he did for his sister three years ago.

Laura was playing on the Arizona-based Cactus Tour in 2008 when she asked little brother – who was having an 'epic' year on the Gateway Pro Tour – if he would help sponsor the event because the tour was having trouble finding enough money for the purse.

He agreed . . . under one condition.

Benoit Beisser at the Epic Open

'Only if I got to name the tournament,' tells Beisser. 'And they loved it. We named it 'Benoit's Epic Open.''

'I was having a good year and I know Laura would've done the same for me if I had asked . . . It was kind of a cool deal; we got them hats and everything.'

Laura finished second in her brother's event and has seen some success in the game since, but she recently retired from her professional golf career to start up her own business doing personal assistant work.

She still serves as Benoit’s personal confidant.

“She helps me with everything,” says Beisser. “She’s still very much connected to the golf world and it’s great to have her there for me.”

It's easy to see Beisser thrives in a modern family. The admiration he holds for Nick, Deanna and Laura gives the impression the four are best friends – not the typical nuclear family, if there is such a thing anymore.

'Some people can't wait for the day they turn 18 to get away from their family, but I'm not one of those people,' he notes. 'My family is my team. I want them to be there every step of the way.'

Maybe knowing his family has his back is why he's always positive when discussing his game.

Considering how's he's playing, though, the easy-going 29-year-old has good reason.

Beisser opened last week's Gateway Pro Tour event in Phoenix with a pedestrian even-par 72. But he blistered the event home with closing rounds of 64-69 to finish third, earned $7,200 and moved to $31,687.50 on the year, which ranks sixth on the tour’s 2011 money list.

'It's pretty good right now,' Beisser says of his game.

'Just want to keep 'er going right now; see what I can do.'

He's confident, and he has every right to be, because what Beisser already has done is put himself in the black on the year, which isn’t easy to do on the Gateway Pro Tour – or any developmental tour.

Gateway Pro Tour
Sample 100-player purse

Consider the numbers.

A member who pays a $1,750 annual GPT membership fee, and then pays the full registration amount of $18,900 for all 18 events of the tour’s Arizona Series, has already spent over $20,000 before even teeing it up.

Factor that just 35 percent of any given field makes a check – a common percentage for many mini-tours –  and that the players on the GPT pay an average of $1,050 per event to play, and it's evident those guys better have paid homage to the golf gods that week just to make their money back.

Also, add in the economy and all the young, hungry, fearless players hitting the professional scene and it makes it all the more difficult just to break even.

The Gateway Pro Tour packs ‘em in, too.

It's one of the highest paying mini-tours in the country, its location is desirable and the tour plays decent golf courses.

Without delving into too much of the science behind it, given the model of nearly every mini-tour, it's difficult for the player to net much of anything.

Even Beisser's third place finish in a field of 114 players netted just over $6,000, considering the entry fee.

Justin Rose, Marc Leishman and David Toms all tied for third at Bay Hill last week and made $312,000. A solo third place finish would've even been more.

It's a tough sell, but mini-tours market themselves by claiming it’s all about gaining the ‘experience’ of competing against other aspiring professionals to learn the tools necessary to make it to the PGA Tour. Look at any pay-for-play website and it will say something to that effect.

The cold, hard truth is developmental golf is expensive, competitive and difficult at which to make a living.

But, Beisser has managed to net over $160,000 on the tour – after entry fees – since joining in 2007.

So our yoga-loving subject should be confident. And, in theory, on to bigger and better things.

Still, it's easy to think he's already living his dream – and has been doing such since he was a kid.

'I think it's just that being a pro kind of allows me to stay 16 years old forever,' Beisser surmises. 'People ask me what the best part of being a professional golfer is and I think that's it.

'It's not for the money or fame that's out there, which, sure, that's great. It's because I've wanted to do nothing else since back when I was a kid and our family would travel together to golf tournaments.

'I'm lucky for that. We always had a blast . . . I guess I just never want that to change.'

With his family by his side, it likely never will.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.