The Saxon Diary
June 14, 2016
By Charlie Saxon, Special to PGATOUR.COM
- With the help of their guide, Charlie Saxon, Paul Imondi, Paul McNamara III, Niall Platt, and John Paul Brown found and enjoyed a sought after commodity not often found while out on tour, a Laundromat. (Charles Saxon)
Charlie Saxon has been all over the globe playing professional golf in 2016. Saxon, an Oklahoma native and graduate of the University of Oklahoma, spent January in China and Argentina qualifying for both the Ping An Bank China Tour – PGA TOUR China Series and PGA TOUR Latinoamerica. After successful weeks in Argentina and China—he’s a member of both circuits—Saxon went back to Oklahoma to prepare for his year, which began in Latin America, in Colombia, Panama, Guatemala and again Argentina for the 85 Abierto OSDE del Centro. It was there, in Cordoba, that Saxon faced a dilemma. After tying for second at that event, he had to decide if would stay and play nothing but PGA TOUR Latinoamerica or head to China. The fact that Saxon is in Taipei, Taiwan, this week, makes it pretty obvious what he decided to do.
After playing the first four tournaments of the PGA TOUR China schedule, the 23-year-old is enjoying a little R and R as the Series observes a one-week break in the schedule. Saxon will be filing daily reports for the remainder of his vacation in Taiwan before he gets back to work next week for the Nanjing Zhongshan Open.
My first year in China has been good, and I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve found a good group of buddies to hang out with. That’s always a plus when you’re on the road for an extended period of time. After the Lanhai Open, I traveled to Taipei with Paul Imondi, Paul McNamara III, Niall Platt and John Paul Brown. I think I’m getting adjusted to China better now than I thought I would. It’s a different world over here in many ways. But China is my new normal, and I’m just enjoying the many adventures. Coming to Taiwan is my latest.
The golf has been great, too. I played well the first two weeks, was really crummy the third week (at the Cadillac Championship) and played OK this past week at the Lanhai Open outside Shanghai. Unfortunately we didn’t play the fourth round because of bad weather. I really liked that course and was hoping to move up the leaderboard on the last day. I’m 13th on the Order of Merit, and I would love to be higher right now. But being 13th is better than being 23rd. I’m just one good week away from being where I want to be.
The Lanhai Open was absolutely fantastic outside of the weather on the last day. On that course there are some of the better golf holes I’ve ever played. From the short par-4s to the crazy greens that force you to be precise with your wedges to the big, long par-4s, I just really enjoyed playing that Jack Nicklaus design. Lanhai International looks like a links golf course but plays nothing like a links layout. It’s really good looking to the eye and is a great test of golf. What I’ve been surprised with in China is how tight the golf courses are. Here, you hit it a sideways drive and you’re getting another ball out of your bag. The courses are all fantastic quality, and I’ve really enjoyed the variety. But you have to hit your ball straight.
There are a bunch of good guys on this Tour, and I’m having a great time hanging out. Growing up and playing golf your whole life as I’ve done, I’ve learned the community of players you see day in and day makes the sport fun. I’ve found those friends in China, and I appreciate that.
As for my family and friends back home in the States, playing in China doesn’t make it easy on them as they follow my career. China is 13 hours ahead of Central Daylight time, so my poor parents, they don’t get any sleep anymore because in the middle of the night in Oklahoma they’re online wide awake checking their phones or the computer for my scores.
There are numerous challenges about being a pro in China. One of them is staying in contact with my coach. I work with Todd Anderson in Sea Island (Georgia). I got real sideways going into the second event, the tournament in Wuhan (United Investment Real Estate Wuhan Open). So I sent him video of some of my swings. I was in a total panic. He got me all sorted out while I was in Bangkok practicing during the off week after Wuhan. Since then I’ve been fine, hitting it pretty well. Todd is awesome with that stuff, so when I have a little issue going on, I send him an email and he corrects me pretty quickly. I’m very lucky to have him on my team.
Someone asked me what the biggest challenge is about playing golf in China. I have to say it’s the lack of laundromats. I’ve been throwing all my clothes in the hotel bathtub and washing them that way. That’s what I do every week, but it doesn’t really get the stench out, unfortunately. My clothes are only somewhat clean. So when we arrived in Taiwan, we found a laundromat and I was able to wash all my stuff, which was much-needed. But, really, none of us have had really clean clothes for several weeks.
Otherwise, life is good, especially with a laundromat nearby. And we’re not exactly bumming it this week. Paul Imondi has a buddy back home who got some deal with a five-star hotel here in Taipei. But the name of the hotel will remain out of the conversation. We’re sleeping five to a room, and the hotel doesn’t know that. I think I’m sleeping on the floor, with the other sleeping arrangements to be determined. As long as nobody finds out we have five in our room, we’re good to go. Ah, the glamourous life of professional golfers.
The reason I’m in Taiwan this week is because of “Travel Mark.” Mark Baldwin is an American who plays on PGA TOUR China, He’s been everywhere in Asia, and he’s very knowledgeable about it. Last week we were talking about places to go during this opening in the schedule, and Mark told us Taipei is a wonderful place. So we thought, Why not? And John Paul Brown has a buddy who lives in Taipei who has shown us around a little bit.
So this is a straight vacation. We all absolutely left our clubs back in the airport in Shanghai. I’ve been playing for five weeks straight, so I figured it would be good to get away from golf a little. We’ll return to Shanghai and then take the train to Nanjing on Saturday for the next tournament. That will then leave me with four days to get back at it before the tournament starts. For me, it’s sometimes good to get away from the sticks.
We have a full list of things to see and do while we’re here and are looking forward to doing a little exploring, seeing all that Taiwan has to offer.