Blake Windred is a 21-year-old Australian who has made the journey to becoming a golf pro, and in the space of a week has gone from being one of the World’s Top 10 Amateur golfers, to be the World’s 1,017th ranked pro golfer.
So, with a world of exciting professional opportunities ahead of him and an impressive amateur career behind him, does he feel ready to capitalise and what can be learned from his experiences, to help those following in his footsteps both in golf and other sports?
I’ve played for as long as I can remember, and golf has been great for taking me out of my comfort zone. The better I’ve played, the more opportunities that have opened up, mostly competing for Australia and travelling the world. Being away from home from a young age has definitely been the hardest part of the journey but it’s important to get comfortable with that particular type of discomfort.
Based in Newcastle (two hours north of Sydney), Blake has had to get familiar with the costly commute down to Sydney, travelling back and forth every week in order to meet his commitments with the Golf NSW High-Performance program and access his golf coach at The Australian Golf Club.
A typical practice day looks something like:
- 6am: Gym session
- 7:30am: Sports Physio
- 9:30am – 5:30pm: Golf training
Their funding has made a huge difference to me, it’s allowed me to play full-time and not work, so focusing completely on my golf. It’s also backed up my parents who’ve been amazing but had to cover about 90% of my golf.
Backed by leading manufacturer Titleist for his golf equipment needs, Blake has been approached by various local brands over recent years, but as an amateur golfer he has been limited in what he has been able to accept.
I’ve not really tried to contact sponsors, because I wouldn’t be able to do a lot with them under amateur golf rules. It’s a very expensive sport but the rules don’t really allow for much external help.
He has tried to build up a strong solid social media following and has put himself out there to be as open and available to meeting and connecting with people as possible.
I always try to stop and chat to anyone I meet both on and off the course, you never know who you’re talking too and what kind of connections they might have. Typically, brands seem to come out to major amateur events and follow your round before approaching you after you’ve finished. I’ve not been given any training in how to best handle it, so I just try to be friendly.
Now he’s made the leap into professional golf, the rule book for sponsorship goes out of the window and Blake now has to start to navigate the best path forward.
Management Companies are the ones who have approached Blake the most – much like sponsors he says that many different companies have followed him during competitive rounds and then approached him after play.
I’m not experienced in this side of the game, so it makes sense to have a management team around me. I’ve met with a number but so far, I’ve not signed to anyone or decided what the best route is for me.
In this regard, Blakes story seems very familiar – a young sportsperson who has a burning desire to do well in the sport he’s played since a child, supported by the sport to hone his skills and gain exposure to the big stage, yet having to find his own way in how he markets himself and handles the transition into the professional side of the sport – athlete sponsorship, athlete marketing and management companies.
To date Blake Windred’s journey to becoming a golf pro, is a highly successful one. He has captured many amateur golf titles, been the leading amateur golfer in multiple professional events and even placed 3rd in the NSW Open (Pro Event).
He has lofty goals to break into the World Top 50 and with it start racking up appearances in the Golf Majors, based on his career to date you’d have to say he has every chance of making that a reality.
So, what does he see as the biggest lesson learnt along the way:
It’s work ethic and love for the game. You have to really love the game and give it everything you’ve got – if you think 90% effort is enough, then you’re going to come up short. It’s all or nothing.
Blake will shortly head to Europe and European Tour Qualifying School; he’s a player that will be exciting to follow over the coming years and hopefully a name that sports fans will become very familiar with!
The non-playing side of the game
Like many other emerging athletes, with success comes exposure to a side of sport that many young sportspeople are not trained to handle; meeting management companies, networking with potential sponsors, ensuring you don’t cross the line with the support you accept and how to build your own brand, or at least not do anything to potentially harm it in the future.
These are some of the issues that inspired the creation of Athlete Mktg, a platform aimed at helping sportspeople make educated choices, learn from those who have gone before them and get inspired to take a new approach in regards to their self-development and promotion.
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