web.com Tour Q School – First Stage – Nebraska, USA

The transition from the amateur ranks to the professional ranks has begun.  Nick played in the first stage of qualifying for the web.com tour between the 3rd and 6th October.  He has gone back to school – Q school that is : )

Nick’s goal is to earn his playing card for the web.com tour which is the developmental tour for the PGA Tour – see below for some more information in relation to the web.com tour.  In simple terms to qualify for the web.com tour there are pre qualifying tournaments, first stage, second stage and then finals.    There were 12 first stage qualifying tournaments held around the USA in October, each with approximately 78 players (total 936 players).  The top 25 from each tournament go through to second stage qualifying so that is 300 players although there may be some other players from the current web.com tour and even the PGA Tour that get exemptions to play in this stage too – these are players that have lost their playing cards so have to re qualify.  There will be 5 second qualifying tournaments played around the USA in November with the top 25 from each going through to the final stage.  These 125 players then play off in December in Arizona in the finals.  If you make it into the top 25 in the finals then you will earn your web.com tour playing card which allows you to play on the web.com tour in the following year.  If you finish between 26 and 40 you are granted partial playing rights.  There is also prize money for the players finishing in the top 40.

Nick made it through first stage in style winning the 72 hole tournament by 1 shot.  He shot 16 under par with rounds of 72, 65, 66 and 65.

The tournament was played at Arbor Links which is located in the nexus between Lincoln, Omaha and Kansas City in the state of Nebraska. 

Article from Stuff.co.nz – Pro career closer for Voke

Article from NZ Golf website – Voke wins web.com First Stage Qualifying Tournament

In Nicks own words…

WHAT A WEEK – it’s always nice to see your name at the top of the leaderboard.  Regardless of whether it’s Saturday’s scramble, qualifying school or a major. Winning is winning and it must be learned at every level to succeed.

First and foremost, a huge shout out goes to my fellow Manukau Golf Club, NZ (or Windross Farm as it is now known) member, Devin Mason.  Devin is now residing in Canada and he came down to Nebraska and was on my bag for the week.  He was a fantastic guy to have on the bag.  I have known Devin for over ten years now and he made the whole week as stress-free as possible.  I can’t thank him enough for his efforts and I’m excited to have him on my bag again in the second round in Texas.

Arbor Links wasn’t necessarily the most challenging golf course but the weather that we had made it very difficult. There was wind, rain and everything in between. It was a constant battle of “is this rain hard enough to warrant a jacket or will it pass in time”? Having Devin there and staying on site made the conditions a whole lot easier to tackle!

In terms of my golf, I didn’t go into the qualifier feeling all that great with my game, I played pretty sloppy in the first round in all honesty, but I knew that I had put in some really solid work and I could feel myself progressively trusting my swing a bit more and that I was starting to swing more freely.  I replied to a text from the NZ golf coach after the first round and I implied that I was feeling good with my game even though I shot 1 over par. I knew that I was close to putting it all together and its nice to look back now and see what actually happened!

Having familiar faces around and a nice place to stay for the week added to my comfort. In a high pressure situation, I felt at ease – I was staying incredibly patient through the testing conditions and with my sloppy inital game, I was taking adversity better in my stride a lot better and laughing things off like a Sunday round. There is a golden lesson in all of this – I have to spend money to make money.  By this I mean that the extra $20 a night I paid to have a decent place to stay, a good breakfast and short commute to the course was worth every dollar. I did everything right off the golf course over the week and I felt great as a result. 

One of the more interesting observations for the week was to do with my putting – and it was one of the best putting performances I’ve ever had. My stats speak for themselves but I didn’t feel like I was trying to ‘force’ or ‘will’ the ball into the hole at all.  Quite frankly I putted better when I thought I had almost holed too many and that I was bound to miss!  Seems quite weird  but I putted better when I didnt really mind if the ball went in or not.  I just wanted to put a good stroke on it and do a good job reading it.  I was 100% inside 5 feet, 62% between 5 and 9 feet AND AN AMAZING 64% between 9 and 15 feet. All the extra work I have been doing from the 5 to 15 feet range came to fruition this week.

There was another cool moment where I was 15 under with 2 holes to play (I was also playing alongside the co-leader at the time).  I knew I was close to winning the thing and that the tournament was probably one of ours to win. For some reason, I didn’t feel nervous or scared (maybe I knew that no matter what happened I was going to qualify as the top 25 get through) and so it gave me a real killer instinct and I just wanted to unleash and put it on the line to see what happened.  The 17th tee is quite a hard shot with trouble around and I smashed a 3 wood into the fairway.  I was really proud of how assertive I swung at the ball – especially when the trouble is right with wind off the left.  I ended up playing the last 2 holes at 1 under to win by 1.  It was an awesome feeling. This is how I want to act and play when there are real consequences on the line.

It was a great week on the course but I am going to take away a bigger lesson that I learned off the course. I invested heavily into my comfort for the week and I felt like I was there to do a job and I did it. The key is to continue investing into myself even whenI’m not feeling as good.

I am back at work here in Iowa as there is always plenty to work on.  I’ve got a great opportunity over the next couple of months to show what I have when it matters most.  I am beyond excited to get back home and see everyone again! 

Next stop, Royal Wellington and the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.  A shot at the Masters and The British Open. It doesn’t get much better than this. What a time to be alive!


ArborLinks takes advantage of the natural features of the site. Native grasses have been used to define and separate the golf holes, which is set on the existing terrain with as little land form disturbance as possible. Bunkers and other hazards have been sculpted to create an old world look and feel. Greens and fairways are expansive, providing unequaled challenges and stimulated creative strategy, while remaining simple and natural.  

The course was built on wooded hills and old cornfields northwest of Arbor Day Farm. Each of ArborLink’s 18 holes tells a conservation story, ranging from “Black Cherry Row” for the first hole, demonstrating field windbreaks and their value, to hole 18, “Cottonwood Creek,” which illustrates the use of bioengineering in restoring and protecting the banks of South Table Creek.  See below re the sustainable approach taken to build this course.
The course is an Arnold Palmer signature design and was opened in 2002.  It was once a public course but is now a private members club although you can play the course if you stay at the Arbor Day Lodge.  


The Web.com Tour is the developmental tour for the U.S.-based PGA Tour, and features professional golfers who have either not yet reached the PGA Tour, or who have done so but then failed to win enough FedEx Cup points to stay at that level. Those who are on the top 25 of the money list at year’s end are given PGA Tour memberships for the next season. Since the 2013 season, the Web.com Tour has been the primary pathway for those seeking to earn their PGA Tour card. Q-School, which had previously been the primary route for qualification to the PGA Tour, has been converted as an entryway to the Web.com tour.


Announced in early 1989 by PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman, the “satellite tour” was formalized by the PGA Tour in 1990, originally named the Ben Hogan Tour, sponsored by the Ben Hogan Golf Company.  The first season of 1990 had 30 events, and the typical event purse was $100,000.  Late in the third year, Nike acquired the title sponsorship and it became the Nike Tour for seven seasons (1993–99); with another sponsorship change it then became the Buy.com Tour for three seasons (2000–02).

Naming rights for the tour were purchased by Nationwide Insurance and it was renamed the Nationwide Tour for 2003. In 2007 there were 32 events, one each in Australia, New Zealand, and Panama, with the remainder in the United States. The events in Australia and New Zealand were co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia. Canada and Mexico have hosted events since 2008, and Colombia hosted an event since 2010. Purses in 2010 ranged from $500,000 to $1 million, about one-tenth of the level on the PGA Tour.
After  9 1⁄2 seasons as the Nationwide Tour, Web.com was announced as the new title sponsor in late June 2012. Effective immediately, with a 10-year sponsorship deal, the tour’s name was changed in mid-season.

Rules and Results

All Web.com Tour tournaments operate similarly to typical PGA Tour tournaments in that they are all 72-hole stroke play events with a cut made after 36 holes. The cut on the Web.com Tour is for the top 65 players and ties, unlike 70 for the PGA Tour. The fields are usually 144 or 156 players, depending on time of year (and available daylight hours). For the aforementioned international events, the joint tour will split players spots with the Web.com Tour for proper sanctioning. As with the PGA Tour, the winner of the tournament will get a prize of 18% of the total purse.

Since this tour is a developmental tour, players are usually vying to play well enough to gain status on the PGA Tour.

In 2007 Paul Claxton became the first man to reach US$1 million in Web.com Tour career earnings.

The Web.com Tour offers Official World Golf Ranking points. The winner earns a minimum of 14 OWGR points (provided at least 54 holes are played) and 20 for the Web.com Tour Championship. Starting in 2013, the first three events of the Web.com Tour Finals award 16 OWGR points to the winner. Tournaments shortened to 36 holes are given reduced values of ten points for regular season events and the win is considered unofficial.

Changes for 2013 season and beyond

On March 20, 2012, the PGA Tour announced radical changes to the main tour’s season and qualifying process effective in 2013. Major changes to what was then known as the Nationwide Tour were also announced at that time.

The first major change was that beginning in fall 2013, the PGA Tour season started in October of the previous calendar year.  This change had several consequences for the Web.com Tour, either directly or indirectly.

Starting with the 2013 season, the Web.com Tour has a structure similar to that of the main PGA Tour, with a regular season followed by a season-ending series of tournaments. In the case of the Web.com Tour, the ending series consists of four tournaments, to be held during the main tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs, called the Web.com Tour Finals. At least 150 players will be eligible to compete in the Finals—the top 75 on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list, plus the players finishing between 126 and 200 on the FedEx Cup points list.  Non-members of the PGA Tour are also eligible if they would have earned enough FedEx Cup points to finish 126 to 200. In addition, PGA Tour players who have been granted medical extensions for the following season are eligible. Because some of the PGA Tour players will be exempt by other means, such as tournament wins in the previous two years, the Finals fields will not consist of all eligible players.  A total of 50 PGA Tour cards for the following season will be awarded at the end of the Finals—25 to the top regular-season money winners on the Web.com Tour, with the remaining 25 determined by total money earned during the Finals.

Those who finish in the Top 75 on the regular season money list but fail to earn PGA Tour cards retain full Web.com Tour status, along with those 26–50 on the Finals money list and those who finished 126–150 on the PGA Tour FedEx Cup standings. Conditional status is given to those who finish in the top 100 on the money list or 151–200 in the FedEx Cup.

Also, starting in 2013, the PGA Tour’s qualifying school grants playing rights only for the Web.com Tour.  The medalist is fully exempt on the Web.com Tour for the entire season. Those finishing in the top ten plus ties are exempt through the third reshuffle, or thirteen events. Players finishing 11th-45th are exempt through the second reshuffle after nine events and all remaining golfers have conditional status. One can also earn direct access to the Web.com Tour through a top-five finish on the Order of Merit on PGA Tour Canada, PGA Tour Latinoamérica, or PGA Tour China. The money leader from each of those tours is fully exempt and those 2nd-5th are conditionally exempt.

Finally, the Web.com Tour now provides up to two entrants in the following year’s Players Championship. One invitation is extended to the player who tops the money list for the entire season, including the Finals. The golfer who earns the most during the Finals also receives an invitation; if the same player leads both money lists, only one invitation is given.

Partnering for Sustainable Design and Education – Arbor Links

In the late 1990’s a concept was conceived for a golf course in the state of Nebraska that would serve as an educational model for eco-sustainability and yet be affordable to build and maintain. To further that goal, a partnership was formed between the golf course builder, the golf course architect and the National Arbor Day Foundation. This team was committed to proactive environmental goals for the development of a golf course that would include:

– Conservation of wildlife habitat

– Protection and improvement of water quality of existing creeks and watersheds

– Restoration of degraded prairie

– Utilizing the course as a living classroom for education both in and out of the golf industry.

300 acres of land adjacent to the Lied Conference Center at Arbor Day Farms was made available for the new golf course. The preliminary review of the project site revealed that the existing prairie land and natural creeks that remained had been degraded by earlier farming practices. The banks of North Table Creek that runs through the property had badly eroded and water quality had also been compromised due to the heavy agronomic use of the land in previous years. Native grassland had become overgrown with a monoculture of species and wildlife habitat had become diminished.

A routing for the golf course was designed to best utilize the natural features of the site with minimal impact and movement of earth. This not only reduced the construction budget but allowed for little disturbance of the land. With a routing plan in place, the design of the course by the Palmer team decided on a natural concept that incorporated large areas for the establishment of native grasses and groves of trees. Bunkers with ragged edges were included to provide a natural and compatible appearance for the windswept prairie look of Nebraska. Water features, such as ponds with littoral shelves and created wetland hollows were added or adjusted to blend seamlessly into this natural environment.

The restoration of the indigenous prairie grasses in large out of play areas was important for enhancing wildlife habitat and also meant that little additional irrigation was required once they had been established. By incorporating these areas into the design, corridors of vegetation were created to connect habitat areas of different animal and bird species. In selected locations around the course, food plots are being incorporated to further encourage wildlife. Trees provide an important habitat for birds and with the knowledge that field breaks of trees were found around farmsteads of the Great Plains dating back to the 1930s, a tree planting program was implemented with Arbor Day Farm around the course. Varieties of native species from seedlings to large specimen trees were planted to reestablish this natural wind screen and to provide habitat. Restoring the landscape of prairie, wetland and forest created abundant habitat for wildlife and provided for more biological diversification. Utilizing Best Management Practices and an Integrated Pest Management plan that is designed to protect the environment also reflect cost efficient methods with proven results. Grass types were selected to reduce irrigation requirements and heavy maintenance practices. Estimates are that 140,000 gallons of water a day will be conserved during peak watering seasons. These grass types will be studied for their effectiveness from year to year.

The South Table Creek that runs through the site had been altered and straightened to gain more land for farming at one time. With assistance and support from the U.S. EPA and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the creek has been restored to its original direction and methods were taken throughout construction to stabilize the banks and prevent erosion. To protect the water quality of the creek during construction, silt fence, detention ditches and soil erosion matting was used. At Arbor Links over forty acres of erosion matting was used to assist seed germination and prevent runoff in potential wash areas This replaced the need for sod on tee slopes, lake edges and green banks, which helped to maintain the course as a good steward of the land while keeping construction affordable. In addition, a buffer system of vegetation was implemented along the creek to filter runoff from the golf course. Some of this vegetation can be harvested periodically as biomass for energy production for the conference center.

To complement the goal of constructing a golf course that would protect and enhance the site’s natural elements, the design team and Arbor Day Farm elected to provide opportunities for education and research sharing. A variety of construction methods and techniques were employed by the golf course builder for future study. Four methods of greens mix and construction were utilized. The resulting turf characteristics, rate of growth and playing conditions of these greens are being studied and so far, no measurable differences have been detected in playability and quality of turf. The performance continues to be evaluated by the agronomic staff. A golf course pocket guide was developed to educate golfers on the conservation methods that were employed during the design and construction, as well as to provide information regarding sustainable maintenance techniques. One of the partners in this guide was the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Many companies within the golf industry contributed time, talent and materials toward the construction of this course in the knowledge that golf courses can be good stewards of the land with the proper information and guidance.

Arbor Links Golf Course was designed, built and is maintained to meet the initial environmental vision of the partnership. The course has hosted a summit with leaders from the golf industry and the environmental community. It continues to be recognized as a national environmental model and is an educational resource for the community, as well as golfers.


This blog was originally set up to share our 9 month adventure around Europe and the USA with friends and family in 2014. On returning to NZ in January 2015 I decided to carry it on so I could continue to share any future travel adventures - it has become my electronic travel diary. I hope you enjoy and get inspired to visit some of the wonderful places we have visited.
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2 Responses to web.com Tour Q School – First Stage – Nebraska, USA

  1. Deborah Cotter says:

    Hello Nick,

    I was planning to be in Wellington to follow your fortunes.  A seat in a car- Paeroa to Wellington-to get there and a bed in a house right on the course boundary had been arranged for me by friends. Then out of the blue I received a call up to have a full hip replacement operation. After having it delayed for over a year, I was offered the chance to have it done on Oct.2nd in a private hospital but paid for by the N.Z.Health System. How good was that offer? You can guess what I said. I am now recovering nicely but I can’t risk stumbling around Royal Well. and undoing all the good work- another 4 weeks minimum recovery time required I am told. I am so disappointed in one way but I’ll settle for coming to see you play on the Pro. Tour one day soon.  My best wishes Nick.  I can picture seeing you conquering  Amen Corner next April!! Kind regards to yourself and Mum.      Mike Cotter.


  2. nickvoke says:

    Hey Mike,
    It would have been great to see you down in Wellington but you have certainly made the right decision! Hopefully one of the sky sports channels can keep you in the loop with my play down there. I wish you all the best with the surgery and a speedy recovery. We will catch up shortly.
    Best wishes,
    Nick Voke


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