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Truro's Eric Banks chasing his pro golf dream

Truro golfer Eric Banks shown during the first round of the MacKenzie Tour’s HFX Pro-Am at the Oakfield Golf and Country Club on Thursday. Jillian Edwards
Truro golfer Eric Banks shown during the first round of the MacKenzie Tour’s HFX Pro-Am at the Oakfield Golf and Country Club on Thursday. Jillian Edwards - contributed

TRURO, N.S. – Eric Banks is trying to build up his golf equity.
The Truro lefty has criss-crossed the continent playing in mini tours, Monday qualifiers, any tournaments where he can keep his game sharp while trying to earn a few dollars.
Such is life of a 26-year-old professional looking to latch onto a pro circuit.
“I’ve been hopping around to whatever I could enter or to whatever was available,” Banks said in a recent interview. “That’s where I’m at right now.”
Just in the past month, Banks pocketed $4,000 by winning the two-round Ancaster Challenge on the Great Lakes Tour, missed qualifying for the RBC Canadian Open by two strokes and earned an exemption into the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada’s Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open in Alberta. He fell three strokes off advancing into the weekend in Lethbridge.
Banks returns to the Mackenzie Tour this week as one of five players to earn a sponsor exemption into the inaugural HFX Pro-Am championship at Oakfield Golf and Country Club.
“My game is in good shape,” said Banks, a two-time Nova Scotia junior champion and winner of the provincial amateur title in 2011. He played four years at the University of Florida, graduating with an economics degree.
“I’ve been shooting really good scores in practice and what not. So I’ve been trying to earn my way into a few tournaments.
“But you really need to be on your game on the Mackenzie Tour. There are a ton of really, really good players. If you want to contend, the cuts are usually at 5 or 6 under.
“I was fortunate enough to play in a couple pro events as an amateur and, of course, all of the high-level amateur events so I feel like I belong out there. It’s just a matter of playing well and earning my way into some status and starts.
“I feel like that I’m geared up for a nice stretch,” he added. “I’ll probably be on the road for the next six weeks.”
After the HFX Pro-Am, Banks will return to the Great Lakes Tour and play in next week’s Southern Ontario Open in Burlington, Ont., and then rejoin the Mackenzie Tour for its next event, the 1932byBateman Open, Aug. 1-4 in Edmonton.
But that’s jumping ahead. His focus is on Oakfield, the 6,775-yard track about 45 minutes from his doorstep in Truro.
“It had been quite a while since I played there,” said Banks, who’ll tee off Thursday morning in the 9:01 a.m. group with Brad Curren of Hammonds Plains, Zach Anderson of Nanaimo, B.C., and Tanner Kesterson of Plano, Tex.
“It’s nice that it’s close to Truro and I’m able to stay at home.”
Anything to reduce the costs while trying to make it as a pro.
Banks — who at 19 underwent open heart surgery but is at full health now (“No problems at all; I pretty much go to the gym every day”) — said the the only restriction left on his career is financing.
He estimates a full season on the Mackenzie Tour would cost a player roughly $30,000, figuring in entry fees, flights, rental vehicles, accommodations and meals. It’s the price to pay in the hunt of a PGA Tour card.
“It’s overwhelming,” Banks said. “You definitely need to take care of your off-the-course budgeting and fundraising. If you have that looming over your head as you try to play well, it usually doesn’t work out.
“Overall, though, I really like where I am. I’ve met a ton of nice people from across Canada and the U.S. Basically, every week there is a tournament, I know someone in the town and get to stay with them, which helps with the cost.”
The Mackenzie Tour is the first step on the path to the PGA Tour. The top five money leaders at season’s end earn a promotion to the Korn Ferry (formerly Web.com) Tour. Korn Ferry is the feeder circuit of the PGA Tour. The top 25 Korn Ferry money earners automatically receive their PGA Tour card.
Seven Mackenzie Tour alumni have won on the PGA Tour, including Tony Finau, MacKenzie Hughes, Corey Conners, Nick Taylor, Aaron Wise, Adam Long and C.T. Pan.
Banks knows it’s a mountain to climb to just get to the next level. But he said he’s leaving no stone unturned. He even works with one of the top instructors in the business, Sean Foley.
“Yeah, he’s the man,” Banks said of Foley, who has worked with Tiger Woods and Justin Rose, among others.
“We have a really good relationship. He’s more than a swing coach to me. He’s like my overall mentor and who I consider one of my really good friends when I’m down in Florida. We’ve played together on some Friday evenings and have a good time. And he’s squeezed me into his busy schedule for some lessons. It’s been great.”

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