The Fairway Tour began like many of its competitors, a place for competitive amateurs willing to sacrifice their amateur status and play for prize money using their handicaps. However the Oklahoma and Texas-based tour has made its mark by being well-organized, well-run and offering enough prize money to attract the attention of up-and-coming professionals as well as established players from various professional tours looking to keep sharp.
"We’re getting more and more guys who want to go on to play on bigger tours, said Fairway Tour owner and director Burt Rieck, who puts on 24-25 events annually. "We’ve had PGA Tour players such as Jerod Turner, some guys from the Adams Tour and other tours. We play it all the way back usually and give them a good test." Other PGA Tour and Web.com Tour players include Steven Bodwitch, Dustin Risdon, and Chris Brown who use the Fairway Tour in between tour stops to keep their games on point.
The players who finished first and third on the Fairway Tour money list in 2013 fit that description exactly. Both Cameron Meyers and Jackson Ogle are young pros from Edmond who played extensively on the Fairway Tour in 2013 to hone their games and get used to the pressure of playing for money with an eye toward advancing up the professional golf ladder in 2014.
"It’s been great for me," said Meyers, who won eight events and led the Tour by earning $27,109 mostly in late summer and fall of 2013. "We played some great courses. It was good to be out on my own, handling my own travel affairs for the most part. The nerves playing for money are lot different than playing for your college or high school team."
Meyers, the 2011 Oklahoma Golf Association State Amateur Champion and a former Oklahoma City University All-American player, is a lanky 6-foot-5 and can hit the ball a mile. Learning patience, not to charge every tucked pin and to be slightly less aggressive on first putts, are some of the lessons he’ll take with him as he tries to move up in the professional ranks.
"You see these guys on the mini-tours and if they win, it’s usually because they made 90 percent of their putts that week from 10 feet and in," Meyers said. "I watch Kevin Tway and he’s gotten a lot better on the greens (the two were teammates at Edmond North).
"I think I can hit the ball as well as most of the guys out here. The shots on and around the greens is where the separation is. I wish I would have worked harder when I should have in college and coming up, but I also know I’m in the best place mentally I’ve ever been and have the confidence that if I keep working hard and improving, I’ll have my chances."
Ogle, a graduate of Oklahoma Christian High School who also played collegiately for OCU, won three times while making $24,435 in 2013. Most events are 18 holes.
For more information on the 2014 Fairway Tour, visit www.fairwaygolftour.com