How do you plan a year when you’ve got no status anywhere?
The aim for me is to go to Q School at the end of the year so, to give myself the best chance of competing there, I’ll be mainly playing the 1836 Tour this year.
Because I’m working I can’t spend 10 weeks on the EuroPro Tour as it takes five days each time an event happens and the good thing about the 1836 Tour is I have played a lot of the courses and they are all within an hour’s drive of me in Leeds.
People see it as not as serious as some other tours, I see it as I’m here to pay my mortgage. It’s a really strong standard, all the good players in the north play on it and you get the odd European Tour player like John Parry playing on an off week.
It’s a good place to make money as there aren’t a huge amount of outgoings like hotels or food.
The entry fee depends on how long the event is, there are a couple of two-day events that range from £225-300 and a one-day tournament will cost from £75-175.
But the prize fund can be as much as £5,000 and Jonathan Cheetham, who runs the tour, tries to pay the top 30 per cent which is about 15 people.
Basically if you play well you will get paid and you will get your entry back.
Otherwise there are some other nice perks – the top 15 members at the end of May will have their Open entry fee of £150 paid for.
Whoever finishes top of the order of merit gets a full year’s supply of Callaway clubs, bag, balls and gloves and a Kia Sportage for six months. While the top five get a year’s supply of balls and gloves.
We get underway next week at West Lancs and then Formby Hall the following day and I can’t wait to get going. The tricky bit is that I last played a tournament last September and I’ve not played West Lancs before.
The 18-hole aspect is pretty tough but you just have to shoot your lowest score so having a practice round really helps with that.
You want to get a feel for the course, pick a strategy and have options off the tee. I might have two plans on a certain hole depending on how the round is going but, given it’s just one round, you want to be as aggressive as you can.
You also want to be familiar with where everything is so I will putt and hit balls before and know where the 1st tee is that all sounds obvious but familiarity helps to keep things nice and relaxed.
If I’m being honest I do feel under a bit of pressure as I’ll be writing this blog on my season so there will be some interest in my progress and you know there will be good bits and bad bits over the course of the year.
But generally I relish pressure situations and am a bit of a show-off so if things are going well that’s great, the hard bit is when it’s not but that’s golf.
I’ve been dipping into all my old Bob Rotella books and one chapter talks about setting unrealistic goals. I want to get into the top 100 in world and win on the European Tour which will sound ridiculous to anyone and so far removed from where I am now.
All along the way I will be learning new experiences and, if I can’t deal with this part of it, then I can never get to the top 100.
Otherwise I’ll play three or four events on the southern-based Jamega Tour which is always on a Monday and Tuesday and is another well-run tour with a guaranteed pay-out of £3,500-4,000.
In terms of shorter-term goals mine are more personal ones like happiness, being healthy and enjoying each day and having good habits. I can’t see much point in putting pressure on myself to do certain things like winning. I’m more of the belief that if I do the right things every single day then the other things will happen.
Michael Helyard will represent National Club Golfer on the mini tours. You can follow his progress on social media – @MichaelHelyard on Twitter and golfmichaelhelyard on Instagram. He plays Cobra clubs and wears Puma clothing and shoes. He is coached by George Gankas and James Whitaker who is based at Garforth.