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Golfweek Magazine

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Senior Writer

Tom DeCaprio will be the first to tell you there’s nothing small-time about what he’s doing.

Though he’s a 38-year-old former college golfer who’s grinding on mini-tours, chasing a dream of playing on the game’s biggest stage, DeCaprio is taking a big-time approach. That means going about his business, on and off the course, in a manner befitting major tour players. Just consider the treatment he gives one of his sponsors.

“After I signed the deal with Geico, I switched my insurance to them and really did save money!” says DeCaprio, quoting the insurance company’s slogan.

Yes, DeCaprio knows how to work it.

Despite playing locally in the central Florida area and on the Tar Heel Tour, well away from network television cameras, DeCaprio has assembled a respectable portfolio of corporate sponsors. The deals are tiny compared to those signed by PGA Tour players, but they are nonetheless vital for DeCaprio to continue his chase of a professional golf career.

In a sense what DeCaprio is doing is no different than an entrepreneur seeking startup capital. Beginning a pro golf career requires seed money to pay entry fees and cover expenses. And like others before him, DeCaprio has come up with creative financing. Some have sold “shares” of themselves to raise the necessary cash, with investors getting a return based upon the players’ winnings.

DeCaprio’s sponsorship solution evolved from earlier fiscal challenges. His pursuits on various small tours and regional opens from 1992 to 1999 were paid for by family and friends, often putting DeCaprio in the uncomfortable position of either asking for money or dealing with extra pressure to perform. He eventually gave up golf for a place in the business world.

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