HERTFORD, NC - Charting their course on the course.
This week, the road map to success for professional golfers takes them through Hertford, North Carolina and the GProTour Biggs Classic at Albemarle Plantation's Sound Golf Links.
"Yah, it's certainly a grind," admitted fourth-year GProTour member Stanhope Johnson Jr. "We're all chasing the same dream. I've had this dream since I was nine years-old."
If the PGA Tour is the major leagues, the GProTour is the equivalent of Double-A in the minor leagues - essentially two steps away from the premier level of pro golf.
And the road up to the top tier is not only distant, it's desolate.
"It can get real lonely out there," Johnson, who played collegiately at NC State, told News 3 Sports Director Adam Winkler. "You're by yourself at a Days Inn, and maybe not in a good place to try and save a dollar. That's what it's all about on the mini-tours: you're scraping for money."
Craving cash and company, this tournament on the banks of the Albemarle Sound is 'shore' a welcome change of pace for players like Johnson. Not only does the Biggs Classic feature the largest purse of the season on the GProTour - but instead of paying for hotel rooms, players stay with host families.
"I'm staying in a nice bed, with a home cooked breakfast this morning," Johnson said smiling. "I didn't have to go to a Waffle House. That certainly helps the dollar for me. It's a family atmosphere here. They really embrace us, and want us here. It's just a great atmosphere, and I love this tournament."
Stanhope will spend the week at the home of the Charles and Lois Pencinger. Every year for this tournament, the empty nesters welcome the birdies and eagles of the pro golfers by serving as host families for the Biggs Classic.
"It's just my wife and me," Pencinger noted. "Our children are grown and they live in other places. So we have -- not quite a grandchild, but almost, that we can take care of for the week."
Charles says he will be rooting for the one rooming at his home.
"When we host, it's not just myself - but the other hosts as well, we become his fan," Charles said. "So, we'll follow him around and hope he makes the cut so we can follow him on the championship round Saturday."
The journey to golf glory might be a lonely one, but this week in North Carolina - players on the GProTour are happy to have some locals along the ride.
The 2021 Biggs Classic runs Thursday through Saturday. Admission to the event is free.