The Golf Coaches Association of America, in cooperation with its long time corporate partner, the NGA Pro Golf Tour, will feature a monthly Q&A with former collegians who are currently playing the NGA Pro Golf Tour. Long considered the premier developmental tour in the United States, thousands of former college players have started their professional careers there. More than 250 NGA Pro Golf Tour alumni have or continue to play on the PGA Tour.
This month's feature is Tyson Alexander. Playing collegiately at the University of Florida Alexander was an All-SEC performer in 2010, as well as an Honorable Mention All-American, and was a member of the 2010 Palmer Cup Team.
Alexander has six Top-10 finishes since joining the NGA Pro Golf Tour, including a win earlier this year at the Killearn Country Club Classic.
Q: Tyson, you had your first victory on the NGA Pro Golf Tour earlier this year. What was the feeling after securing that first win?
Winning on the NGA TOUR let me know that I could do it. I played on the NGA TOUR in 2011 and I realized how good the players were on the Tour and how tough it was to win out here. It was a big accomplishment. I thought I could do it, but until you do it, you don’t know for sure. The win proved to me that I belonged.
Q: Your father, Buddy Alexander, was your head coach at Florida, so you grew up around golf. At what age did you start playing golf growing up? When did you know you wanted to play golf in college?
I played my first tournament when I was seven, and I guess I started thinking about playing collegiately sometime in the beginning of high school. I played every sport growing up, but I knew that I wasn’t going to play in the NFL, MLB or NBA. Golf was my best shot and I had a great teacher in my father.
Q: What experiences at the University of Florida do you think helped prepare you for playing professional golf?
In college you had to learn to manage your time, which was different than in high school. You had to balance classes, workouts and qualifying rounds in college. I learned how to do that at Florida, so time management wasn’t a total shock to me when I turned pro.
Q: What were some of your best experiences playing college golf?
I think the best experiences in college were just being part of a team, hanging out and joking around with guys. I liked that, and I miss that camaraderie as a pro. I have a lot of friends on the NGA TOUR, but at the professional level, everyone is playing for themselves.
Q: What, if anything, would you say has changed about your game since you left college and have been playing on the NGA Professional Tour?
You could be a little more patient in college. On the NGA TOUR, you can’t just make pars. You have to get on it and make birdies. You have to have a different mindset when you play out here. You know that somebody is going to shoot a low number each day, and you need to make sure it’s you.
Q: Were there some parts of the business side of professional golf that you think you were well prepared for when leaving school? What are some parts that may have been unexpected to you?
In college, the head coach and assistants had everything planned out and you showed up and played. As a pro, you’re a one-man show. You make your own travel plans, drive to the event and find places to eat dinner. On the business side, I’m fortunate to have some investors that put up some good backing; I’m not living paycheck to paycheck. I’m cautious with money, but I’m not worried about making enough money to play in the next event. That helps me focus on golf. With all the professional golfers that came through the University of Florida, I was able to pick their brains before I turned pro. I had an idea going in of what it would be like to play on a developmental tour.
Q: Several alumni of the NGA Professional Tour have gone on the great success on both the PGA and European Tours. What about the NGA Tour prepares golfers for continued success as they progress through their careers?
You play four-day events on one course on the NGA TOUR, just like the Web.com and PGA Tours. You get to the course and have your own range balls, play practice rounds and a Pro-Am. Sometimes I don’t like it, but you’ve got to wear pants. The proof is in the pudding. Ted Potter won on the NGA TOUR in 2011 and then went on to win on the Web.com Tour and he won the PGA TOUR’s Greenbrier Classic earlier this year. You’ve got to practice what you want to be, and the NGA TOUR is the best developmental tour for that.
Q: Finally, what advice would you impart to college and junior golfers dreaming of a career in professional golf?
I would tell them to stay focused on constant improvements; it’s easy to get frustrated if you’re not winning or making cuts. Make sure to get better every day. Golf is a marathon, not a sprint. Everyone wants to be great now. Some guys are great now, but some guys are great later. You need to focus on constant improvement.