Why this pro could have a mind-boggling travel schedule in 2024

map of golf tournaments in succession

“How you get from New Delhi to Savannah, unclear,” Martin Trainer texted. He may try and find out.

Sean Zak

Martin Trainer was focused on the PGA Tour first. He was ranked 162nd in the FedEx Cup Fall when we chatted at the RSM Classic, now the year-end event that dictates playing schedules for the coming season. To be Mr. 162 is to have a murky future, but he still had a chance that week.

If he could just nab a top-20 finish down in Georgia, he’d squeeze his way into the top 150. A lot of pros consider the top 125 to be the meaningful cutoff, but the guys who finish 126th to 150th have it pretty good, too. They don’t need to look far for work. They just have to be patient and enough events will open up to them. If you don’t crack the top 150, then it’s time to look elsewhere.

“Have you thought about a Euro trip?” I asked him. Turns out, he had. 

Thanks to the PGA Tour’s “Strategic Alliance” with the DP World Tour, the 10 best players from Europe would be granted full status on the America-based tour, and something of the reverse would be on offer as well. All Tour players who finished between 126th and 200th would be allowed to accept membership on the DP World Tour for the following season, essentially taking their talents to Europe. 

It isn’t the most tantalizing option for most American golfers, who may be more inclined to drop down to the Korn Ferry Tour — where they’ll enjoy some status as well — just to keep an America-based schedule. But for Trainer, who was born in France and who loves to travel, the DP World Tour downgrade is intriguing. He joked about treating it like his semester abroad — a golfing gap year. The DP World takes you to over 20 different countries on three different continents. The things you’d see, the food you’d eat, the wacky pars you’d make up against the mountains in Switzerland. 

But first came the RSM, where his pursuit of the cutline fell two birdies short. His FedEx Cup finish was sealed at No. 163. But right about that time, a surprising option arose. It was initially going to be just fine for PGA Tour players to compete in the Promotions event put on by rival league LIV Golf. It was a three-day shootout in Abu Dhabi, and in classic LIV fashion it included a different format. LIV Promotions would be a survive-and-advance tournament — shoot low enough on Day 1, you move to Day 2. Shoot low enough on Day 2, advance to the final day, a 36-hole sprint. Trainer tossed his hat into the ring.

The event came with an implied risk. Since the PGA Tour demands that players apply for media rights releases more than 45 days in advance, there wasn’t enough time to miss out on the Top 150 FEC and then apply for a possible future at LIV Golf. One had to apply for a release to play LIV’s qualifying event before even knowing your PGA Tour future. Trainer wasn’t alone — Kevin Chappell, Jason Dufner, Kyle Stanley and Chris Stroud were among the notable names who decided to make this leap, too, suspensions and/or fines be damned. The potential riches to be had in just a single season on LIV were too good to pass up. Last place in every event still nets $120,000.

Martin trainer
Martin Trainer at the Liv Promotions event. Getty Images

On Day 1, Trainer shot two under, just barely good enough to advance to the next round. The field of 60 was trimmed to 29, then boosted to 42 with exempt players (like the major-winning Dufner) being added. On Day 2, even better — Trainer made four birdies and no bogeys en route to 68. Then, on the final day gauntlet, Trainer shot 69 to put himself in the hunt for a top-3 promotion, but slowed in the final round with a 71 and a T7 finish. That left him three shots out of a playoff, but very importantly three shots inside the top 10, which booked his ticket to the entirety of the Asian Tour’s International Series, a seven-event schedule that bops around from Oman to Morocco to Hong Kong and others. 

If this is all a game of grabbing up status on various tours, Trainer now has an extra line in the water. 

“I’ll be getting into 40 professional events next year,” he texted, admitting he’s crafted a spreadsheet of all four tours. “And a good finish on the PGA Tour away from 50 events.” 

He’s right. For starters, Trainer will be able to slide in to the less-popular PGA Tour events like the Puerto Rico Open (where he is a past champion) or the Corales Puntacana Championship — the “Island Tour” as he puts it. If he plays his best golf there, he can parlay it into other events. He’ll also be able to play a rather full Korn Ferry Tour schedule, too, if he wants it. As comfortable and PGA Tour Lite as it may seem, the purses on the KFT are almost all $1 million. For pros who know they’ll make 90% of their money in 10% of their events, as the adage goes, there will be more profitable golf to play overseas. 

There’s that International Series, which has an average purse size of about $3 million, and is bound to include various players from LIV Golf — Brooks Koepka played in Oman in February 2023 as he gained reps ahead of the Masters. Then there’s the DP World Tour and its many national opens, most of which promise between $2 million and $5 million to the field. Having all this status is great, of course, so long as you’ve got an updated passport and a willingness to survive the travel constraints. 

“How you get from New Delhi to Savannah, unclear,” Trainer said before outlining a seven-week stretch that would cover 35,000 miles, six countries, three continents and, notably, four tours.

International Series Oman — Asian Tour

117 Visa Argentina Open — Korn Ferry tour 

Puerto Rico Open — PGA Tour 

International Series Macau — Asian Tour

Singapore Classic — DP World Tour

Hero Indian Open — DP World Tour

Club Car Championship (Savannah, Ga.) — Korn Ferry Tour

A schedule too crazy? Perhaps. But maybe schedule so crazy you want him to do it for entertainment purposes alone.

Sean Zak

Golf.com Editor

Zak is a writer at GOLF Magazine and just finished a book about the summer he spent in St. Andrews.

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