Zack Byrd of Murrells Inlet will be giving golf in Africa a go this year.
At the age of 30, after playing professional golf domestically for several years and repeatedly attempting to go through the Web.com Tour’s various channels or qualifying tournament, Byrd is going a different route in 2017.
He received an exemption into March’s final stage of the Sunshine Tour Qualifying Tournament, and hopes to earn status on the South Africa-based tour and play in events in April, May and early June before returning home during a break in the tour’s schedule.
“It’s a little outside the box and something I’ve never done,” said Byrd, a 2009 graduate of Coastal Carolina. “But this is probably the last year for me, and I’ve been doing the same thing for seven years and it hasn’t worked out, so I’m going to try something different.”
Byrd is scheduled to leave for South Africa on March 9 and will have two practice rounds before the Q-School finals begin on March 13.
He said a top-30 finish in Q-School would get him into the large tournaments early in the schedule, including events in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“The plan would be to play everything I can before the break in the summer and reevaluate based on where I am on the money list and see how much I’d have to go back over there,” Byrd said.
The European Tour has five events in South Africa on its 2017 schedule, and Byrd said a top-15 finish on the Sunshine Tour’s money list would give him a spot in most if not all of them on the 2018 schedule, and a top-50 money list finish would give him an opportunity to compete in some of them as well.
He believes the Sunshine Tour is a better alternative than trying to play on Web.com Tour feeder tours in Latin America or Canada. “I’m doing this to jump to the European Tour,” Byrd said. “I need to earn money. I have a family.”
Prior to his trip to South Africa, Byrd will be playing in three Florida Professional Golf Tour events beginning with this weekend’s sold out Indian River Open at New Smyrna Golf Club. That will be followed by the Wildwood Open & Pro-Am from Feb. 17-19 and Two-Man Team Championship from Feb. 23-24, which he will play with partner Mark Silvers of Savannah, Ga., a member of PGA Tour LatinoAmerica.
In his most recent events, Byrd finished third in the Goslings Invitational on Dec. 1 in the Bahamas to earn $5,750, then finished 12th and second in a pair of Florida Golf Tour events in December.