By Peter Owen

RYLEY Martin reckons he must be the only FIFO golf professional in Australia.

Each few weeks the Sunshine Coast-based pro packs his bags, loads his car and drives 800km to Emerald, where he works as a first-year associate at the Emerald Golf Club.

He works 10 hours a day for a week or so – teaching and assisting in the golf shop – and builds up enough hours so he can spend the next fortnight at home with wife Sophie and young son Theo.

Then it’s back to Emerald, and the ‘Fly In, Fly Out’ cycle begins again.

It wouldn’t work for everyone, but for Martin, 24, it allows him to indulge his love of coaching, provides a solid career basis for the future, and gives him a steady income to help support his growing family – he and Sophie are expecting a second child in a few weeks.

Most of all, he’s helping an old mate in a time of need.

The pro at Emerald is Matt Victorsen, who served his traineeship with his dad John at Headland Golf Club, where Martin was one of the club’s most promising juniors.

“Matt’s been like a father to me,” Martin said. “He coached me when I was younger and he’s done so much for me and my golf career. 

“He and his wife Lauren have been flat out at Emerald – coaching and club-fitting seven days a week. I was happy to help out when he asked,” he said.

Ryley Martin shows the style that he hopes will make him the country’s top trainee.

As an associate, Martin gets to play in the Monday PGA Membership Pathway Program series of tournaments. At only his second start, he shot five-under 67 at Royal Queensland to beat a strong field of associates.

“It could have been even better,” said Martin. “I was six-under after seven holes.”

Martin was club champion at Headland, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast while still a junior, and in 2015 won the Veritas World Junior 16-18 years championship in the US.

Martin has three times sought playing privileges on the PGA Australasian Tour, twice missing out on Q-School qualifying by a stroke or two. Nevertheless, he’s toured the country, gaining starts through Monday qualifiers.

“But it’s very tough,” he said. “You can shoot five- or six-under on a Monday and still not get a start. In the last three months of 2022, it cost me $26,000 to play in 10 tournaments for a return of about $5000.”

Martin says he’s enjoying his new role at Emerald, where he began as an associate on January 1. 

“It’s been really good. They’re great people out there, and I love the work.”

Though his ambition to be a touring professional has been tempered a little by his experiences, Martin remains confident he has the game to succeed at a high level.

“I don’t by any means doubt myself,” he said. “I’ll be able to play pro-ams after six months and I’ll play the MPP series whenever I get the chance.

“My goal is to be the No. 1 trainee in Australia,” he said. “That will give me all the playing opportunities that I need.” 

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