Brooks Koepka, now 27 years old, consistently plays on the world’s most pristine courses during PGA Tour events. As a junior golfer, he did not tread such glamorous turf.
The U.S. Open champion started off his golf career in South Florida, a highly commended golf destination; the catch is, he played on a public golf course. Brooks’ father, Bob Koepka, financially supported Brooks and his brother Chase throughout their junior golf careers.
“If they work hard no matter where they’re at and they can develop success, the opportunities will open up,” Bob Koepka said.
Expenses included equipment, golf attire, traveling, hotel stays and eating out frequently. As a junior golfer, Brooks played in approximately 15 tournaments per year according to his father. These included South Florida PGA, Florida Junior Tour and American Junior Golf Association events.
“Used to just put him on a plane. . . so I could stay home to work to fund the next one,” Koepka said. “It was just all out of pocket. . . just worked extra hard so that he could get that opportunity.”
Koepka does not believe Brooks could have done it alone; juggling employment and golf is not feasible.
“I don’t think when you get to that level where you’re going to be playing for a living that you can really afford to be working,” Koepka said. “Your work is on the range and on the golf course.”
Brooks was able to cut costs by carrying his own bag throughout his first year on the Challenge Tour in Europe. He was promoted to the European tour immediately after; the rest is history.
Koepka feels as though any time or money invested into one’s children is worth-while.
Current Vice-President of Golf Professional Services and President of Junior Golf Foundation of America (JGFA) Mary-Lee Cobick watched Brooks’ golf abilities progress from the beginning.
She said Brooks participated in all activities at Okeeheelee including level programs and JGFA tournaments.
“[Brooks] just kept getting better and better. He did it a little differently,” Cobick said.
Cobick advocates for Palm Beach County’s play card; for $150, the card grants golfers under the age of 18 unlimited play on county courses for an entire year. Brooks utilized the play card during his time at Okeeheelee according to Cobick. A new feature has been added to the card since: players are allowed to hit 3000 range balls per month.
Finding friends and relatives who may be able to assist through the process is another method Cobick mentioned to raise funds.
“Somewhere someone has to do something, because you can’t necessarily [afford to],” Cobick said.
Once a PGA/LPGA tour hopeful reaches the collegiate level, most expenses are taken care of according to Cobick. After graduation, Cobick recommends those on a tight budget participate in group lessons.
“It’s not impossible. . . one you gotta want it, and two you just gotta be really creative,” Cobick said.
Cobick believes there are ways around golf’s associated expenses when one is truly dedicated to improving.
“It still can be viewed as a sport for the rich but I think there are definitely. . . options,” Cobick said. “I think it’s even more than money and talent, I think it’s more desire.”