BERTHOUD, Colo. — Sam Saunders prepared for the start of the TPC Colorado Championship by going on a bike ride at Devil’s Backbone Open Space.
That came after a couple relaxing days in Granby, which was preceded by a visit to Blanca, Colorado, and exploring Great Sand Dunes National Park.
Saunders has effectively ditched the mundane lifestyle of second-tier pro golf for a chance to safely and happily enjoy the country with his family by buying and living in an Airstream trailer while playing on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Playing in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic kickstarted the idea. Now it’s a perfect fit.
“You just don’t know what you’re getting into with every town, you get different rules and regulations. I figured this way I can control where I go, when I go,” said Saunders, a former Fort Collins resident, after his first round of the 2020 TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes.
“Every night I get to go back to my own bed, my own sheets.”
Saunders, the grandson of golf legend Arnold Palmer, smiles at the happiness the new lifestyle has brought him and his family (Saunders and his wife, Kelly, have two boys aged 11 and 6), joking that golf is getting in the way of his fun during his return to Colorado.
The Airstream has solar panels, two generators and a 59-gallon freshwater tank, so the Saunders crew can effectively drop off the grid for extended periods of time. Their camping spot during this week’s tournament is at Flatiron Reservoir and he happily says he has no cellphone service there.
After Wednesday’s first round he went back to camp, grabbed inflatable kayaks and headed to a nearby lake to relax. He’s spent evenings catching up with old friends from Fort Collins and even has his former neighbor on the bag.
No more will he live the life of most golfers on second-tier tours trying to earn their PGA Tour card.
“The lifestyle out here before was always just so mundane to me. I hate the routine of go to a hotel, go to the golf course, you go pick up dinner, you go sit in a hotel room and watch TV all night,” Saunders said. “That’s just not healthy. It’s not good for you. I just think life is meant to be spent outside and this is a great way for me to be outside as much as possible.”
The family cooks their own dinner every night, spends evenings around the campfire before finishing with a movie or book before bed.
“Golf is a job and I enjoy it, but it just gives me perspective on it all. If I play great I’m happy, but if I don’t play great, that’s OK, too,” said Saunders, who shot a 2-over 74 in the first round.
The Colorado reunion has been a blessing for Saunders, who moved to Florida four years ago.
The next stop? More adventure.
Even when the coronavirus pandemic ends and things return more to normal, the Airstream life is the life for the Saunders family.
“We’re having a great time. The challenges are tough, but the good times are so rewarding it’s all worth it,” Saunders said. “It’s the best. I don’t think I’ll ever go any other way again.”
Follow Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle. Coloradoan Sports can also be followed on Twitter. If you don’t already, please support local journalism at Coloradoan.com/subscribe.