(Editors Note — The below interview with Erin Walker took place a month ago and was published on our old site. We wanted to post it on the new site. We’ve gone back and forth with Walker via Twitter since then. At one point, she mentioned how she and Jimmy love events where you don’t have to go super low everyday — like this week’s Honda Class. maybe that explains his (-3) yesterday and the fact he’s in the hunt. Look for him this weekend.)
Erin Walker has decided it’s time to tell the story of many women who love golfers – the story of a tour wife. Walker, married to PGA Tour member Jimmy Walker, launched a new blog called www.tourwifetravels.com through which she comments on the travels that come with following your golf pro husband around the country and world. Already she’s commented on where to stay and eat if you’re ever around Torrey Pines, Honolulu or Scottsdale. Maybe Erin’s efforts are sending positive vibes Jimmy’s way too – he’s three-for-three in cuts made in 2011, was ranked 18th in FEDEX Cup points heading into this week’s event, and put together a four-round total of -7 at the Waste Management event.
The Mouth That Roars took time to ask Erin a few questions about her blog, golf and Jimmy.
1) We love what you’re trying to do with the blog Erin. It’s part behind-the-scenes golf, part travel help, etc. What are your goals with the blog?
Being a journalism major, I have been trying to come up with some way to put my education to use while traveling with Jimmy. I really want to make Tour Wife Travels a site that people follow and look to for advice when they are planning golf-related vacations. Right now, I think it’s mostly just our family and friends who follow me. I also really want other players and wives to give me input on THEIR favorite stops. I have some exciting things in the works so you will all have to follow and see!
2) As a PGA Tour wife, you travel all the time. What are your favorite places to visit? Which places do you look forward to every year?
When the weather is good, Pebble Beach can’t be beat. Some of my favorites dining spots are located on the Monterey Peninsula. I can’t reveal too much yet because that is next weeks blog post!
LA is always fun because my brother lives there and the course is phenomenal. It’s a fun place to visit, but I’ll take low-key Texas (and lower housing prices!) to live. We are also lucky because we have a tournament in our hometown of San Antonio. Staying at home definitely has its perks and it’s so wonderful to have our friends and family out cheering Jimmy on.
3) If Jimmy had to play the same course each week in the same part of the U.S. — where would you want it to be?
We are biased because we live in Texas. Jimmy is from there originally and we make our home there now. He loves playing his home courses with “his boys” so I would have to say San Antonio.
4) What are the challenges that come with traveling all the time and being a PGA Tour player’s wife? There must be a lot of unpredictability in your schedule?
Actually, when you finish inside the 125 number, it’s quite easy to set a schedule for the year, and then having a good West Coast Swing sets us up for getting into the “invites” (Bay Hill, Colonial, Memorial etc). Right now, we just want to keep making cuts and trying to stay as high up on the money list as possible because then getting into Majors becomes the goal.
It’s pretty hard to set a schedule when you are in the conditional category coming from the Nationwide Tour or Q School. A lot of people assume you can play everything you want as long as you get your PGA TOUR card but that is false. You have to finish high up on the Nationwide Money List or Q School to have a chance to get into the West Coast. Then you have to make money on the West Coast to keep your spot in the reshuffle. It’s kind of a mess and I hope we never have to worry about that again! That’s why a lot of first time TOUR players don’t keep their cards, the stress of HAVING to make money early in the year is a lot to handle.
5) We see golfers Thursday-Sunday — Are Monday-Wednesday more peaceful days for Jimmy and yourself?
No! It’s nuts! Because we travel with our infant son and our dog, we always travel on Monday. Packing, getting to wherever we need to get to and keeping the kid happy can be stressful.
Tuesdays are Jimmy’s big practice day, since he isn’t in the category that plays the Pro-Am on Wednesdays. He is an early riser so he is usually out the door for his practice round by 6 AM, plays 18 and then practices after. Sometimes he won’t get “home” until 3 or 4. I usually try to run errands, drop off dry cleaning and do all the boring stuff no one really wants to hear about!
Occasionally, on Wednesdays, Jimmy will get up early and play 9 holes before the Pro Am guys tee off. It depends on how comfortable he was with his practice round the day before or if conditions have changed dramatically. Luckily for me, TOUR Daycare is open starting on Wednesdays so I can drop the kid off and then participate in PGA Tour Wives Association charity events or do lunch with my friends.
The PGA TOUR Wives Association is a wonderful charity organization that focuses on children’s charities in the cities we visit. There are brilliant women on TOUR and everyone works hard to make a difference in the lives of the kids.
6) Jimmy’s 3-for-3 with cuts made this year and currently 18th on the FEDEX list — should we expect big things from Jimmy this year?
What the press didn’t really mention much after Greenbrier last year is that Jimmy tore his meniscus during the tournament. He ended up finishing 4th but after the swelling subsided he had a hard time keeping his knee stable during the FedEx Cup tournaments. He had knee surgery at the end of September and a month later was back to practice and played a few Fall Series events to feel comfortable again.
With the knee feeling good he revamped his swing a bit and practiced really hard over the offseason. Last year was the first year we had breathing room at the end of the season and he was able to rest a bit and then get back to work with plenty of time to feel prepared for 2011.
People that know his game well think this is possibly the best he’s ever hit it, even better then when he was Player of The Year on the Nationwide Tour in 2004. I’ll let you be the judge as to whether you want to pick him for your Fantasy Golf but I wouldn’t forget about him anytime soon.
7) You’re not from Buffalo, and you’ve probably never visited — what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of our city?
I grew up in Park City, Utah and know a lot of people on the U.S. Ski Team. I was really good friends with former Olympic mogul skier Alex Wilson in college, and he is a Buffalo native. He had a great time growing up there!
Jimmy played a Nationwide tournament at Peek n’ Peak in 2007 and I think that is the closest we’ve been to Buffalo. Is that close??
(Editors Note – It’s 75 minutes away. We were in attendance.)
8) We’ve got to get one golf-related question in — Do you know what Jimmy’s favorite courses are?
Hands down Riviera Country Club in LA. It’s his favorite course to play all year. He really likes old style golf courses like Harbour Town in Hilton Head and with the U.S. Open being played at Congressional this year, the AT&T National was moved to Aronimink outside Philly 2010 and 2011. He had a blast there last year and is really looking forward to playing up there again. The TOUR needs to work on making that a permanent stop as the fans were great!
TPC Sawgrass is another one of his favorites. The atmosphere at The Players is electric, as good as any Major.
The Greenbrier tournament in West Virginia replaced a wonderful tournament in Michigan that Jimmy loved. We really miss playing in Michigan but the Greenbrier has been a fantastic replacement. There are so many “new style” courses on TOUR now, it’s great to have some traditional courses added to the rotation.
9) Final one — you met Jimmy at a 2004 Nationwide event when you were a volunteer. Did you have an interest in golf even before you met Jimmy? Do you play?
I am a huge sports fan, probably more so than my husband and getting a chance to watch the pros up close and personal was something I jumped at.
I do like to play golf but hardly have time to practice. I’m a pretty solid double bogey player and would love to get better but between our son and riding my horses competitively, I get pulled in too many directions to get really good.
The PGA TOUR Wives Association puts on a charity golf tournament where the wives play a scramble and the guys have to caddy for us. We get bibs with our name on them and everything! It’s one of my favorite events and being as competitive as I am, I stack my team. There are some wives out here that can stripe it! In my opinion, it’s just as entertaining to watch as the real tournament!