Nick Taylor’s first full season as a pro golfer began with some serious globetrotting.
In January, the 22-year-old from Abbotsford flew over to Hawaii for six weeks of preseason practice, far away from the waterlogged winter of the Fraser Valley.
In February, it was off to Morocco for a couple of warm-up events on the eGolf Professional Tour. Taylor picked up $3,500 for his 15th-place result at the Samanah Classic.
In March, Taylor made a brief stop in Bermuda, where he earned $2,000 for winning the Bacardi National Par 3 Championship.
These days, Taylor is based back home in Abbotsford, making final preparations before his schedule gets much busier in May. Last weekend, he finished second at the Vancouver Golf Tour’s Sandpiper Classic in Harrison Mills.
“I’ve been everywhere the last couple months,” Taylor said, reflecting on his recent barnstorming tour. “I like traveling, and I’ve been to some cool places, so it’s been fun.
“Morocco was definitely a different world. It was everything – the whole culture. I would say it’s just more busy – in traffic, everyone’s trying to go as fast as they can. The weather was a lot better than here, and it was nice to see the sun every once in a while.”
Taylor believes the past couple months have served him well after a summer 2010 that wasn’t up to his lofty standards.
He won the Men’s Open at Ledgeview, his home course, but he tied for 33rd at the Canadian Amateur and was eliminated in the first round of match play at the U.S. Amateur.
“I was just inconsistent with ball-striking, really,” he analyzed. “A lot of times last year, I had squirrelly shots, or misses that I hadn’t usually been having. It cost me having some good rounds, and it also caused mediocre rounds to be a little worse. It wasn’t terrible, but I wasn’t playing as well as I knew I could have.
“But I’m starting to get back to playing better.”
Taylor’s schedule kicks into high gear in mid-May, with the PGA Tour’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Country Club in Forth Worth, Tex. The former University of Washington golfer earned an exemption for that event by virtue of winning the NCAA’s Ben Hogan award, emblematic of the top collegiate golfer in the United States in 2009-10.
Beyond that, Taylor has exemptions for a handful of Canadian Tour events, beginning with the Times Colonist Island Savings Open, June 2-5 in Victoria.
For Taylor, the biggest difference between playing amateur and pro golf is mentally dealing with the fact he can now take home a cheque for his performances. As an amateur, he made the cut at several pro events, but wasn’t eligible to take home any money. His T36 finish at the 2009 U.S. Open, for instance, would have been worth just north of $40,000 US.
“It’s different now, playing in tournaments where you have the chance to make some money,” he said. “It shouldn’t be different, but it is at the same time. It’s something to get used to, and I’m starting to get around to not thinking about it at all.
“If you’re thinking about how much this putt will be worth, it’s not a good thing to be thinking about. The best thing is to put it out of your mind and play golf.”
Taylor, the former No. 1-ranked amateur in the world, has landed sponsorship deals with golf equipment supplier TaylorMade – an obvious fit considering his surname – and RBC.