Life on Tour

photo by APT
photo by APT

Growing up in an athletic family with brothers being star football players and wrestlers, I never thought the game of golf would become the thing I am most passionate about in life. At a young age, I knew I wanted to pave my own path and accomplish my own goals that would be set by myself instead of following in the footsteps of doing the exact things my older brothers had accomplished. The game of golf was introduced to me at the age of three by my father after giving me my very first set of plastic clubs. The story has it that the plastic clubs were used on more things around the house other than whiffle balls. Then at age seven, after so much house destruction and interest in the game, my parents decided that it was time to take me to a real golf course. 

It became a regular routine in the Nijoka house after that. The weekends truly were for the boys and the golf course was where you could find us. The more we played the more competitive things got. Whether it be hitting a farther tee shot or shooting what was then a career-best, we always wanted to get better and challenge one another. The love for the game came then because I knew as long as I was on a golf course that meant it was family time with my Dad. My father's job required him to travel all over the world when I was younger, so the times that he was home we would always spend it at our favorite place. 

All athletes know the competitive fire never fully goes away. Throughout high school and college, I took my golf game to the next level. I knew that one day I wanted to play professional golf and compete with the best players in the world. After leaving Loyola University New Orleans with six wins and two appearances at the NAIA National Championship I knew I was ready to start my journey as a professional. 

Philip at Muskogee Country Club  

I learned very early the struggles of being an up-and-coming professional athlete.  The grind of traveling alone, and the expenses that came with it, taught me to be mentally stronger than ever before. At first, I felt like I was in a boxing ring taking punch after punch and getting knocked down each time. After so many punches I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to pick myself up, but with my parents' and older brothers' support and encouragement, I am still fighting every day.

I have seen a dramatic increase in my performance over the last few months. After making my first cut in Tulsa and qualifying for the Texas State Open, I went to Bella Vista, Arkansas with my head held high. After a great first few rounds, I found myself atop the leaderboard with the best of the APT. Although I didn’t have the finish I would have liked, I still put up one heck of a fight. 

The most common question I get asked is, "What is life on tour like?" The best way to put it is I travel all around the country to play great golf courses and meet amazing people along the way. The friendships and memories that have been made during this journey I know will last a lifetime.


 

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