Social Studies: 19 Questions with @tourwifetravels (a.k.a. Erin Walker)

Monday October 5th, 2015
For an insight into what it's like to be the wife of a PGA Tour star, check out Erin Walker at @tourwifetravels.

We sat down with Erin Walker, wife of PGA Tour star Jimmy Walker and the voice behind popular Twitter account @tourwifetravels. Erin revealed her approach to Twitter, her enviable access to Butch Harmon and how Jimmy isn't the only competitive athlete in the family.

Your Twitter handle is @tourwifetravels. This is to publicize your personal blog, right?

Exactly. I was a journalism major in college, and it's been a little hard, not using my degree. So I thought, This might be a fun thing for me to do. I started with the blog, and it was mostly just a travel blog of where to eat and stay and shop. I thought some people might enjoy reading about what we did on the road.

It looks like the blog hasn’t been updated in a while.

And then I had kids, and I don't have time (laughs). I'm a very competitive horseback rider, as well, so trying to do the kids and the horses and the golf and the blog -- with the blog, it's mostly just the editing part. I can write it really fast, but the editing kills me. I thought about changing the focus and doing more of just how we are day-to-day. But at the same time, I don't want to edit it.

Did you always envision a journalism career for yourself?

I didn’t. I actually was headed to law school. I wanted to be a sports agent. And then I met Jimmy, and we got engaged, and that kind of went by the wayside. Jimmy wanted me to travel with him full-time. So I kind of put my career goals on hold, I guess you can say, and have been running our show for the past 10 years. It's actually our 10-year anniversary today (Sept. 10).

Congratulations. Thanks for sharing a small part of it with us. I did not notice this update on Twitter.

I didn't actually tweet that out today, surprisingly.

Why are you on Twitter?

I think people still like to hear what we have to say and what I have to say. Jimmy sees it as more of a necessary evil. He likes Instagram a lot better. But Twitter is a little bit about building our brand and expanding our brand and the Jimmy Walker brand a little bit, too.

Does that expansion mean using Twitter to land sponsors or fulfilling endorsement deals?

One of Jimmy's main sponsors is MGM, and MGM has a large social media presence. So anything that I tweet about them, or any way that I direct people towards MGM is going to help them out, and they're going to benefit from that. In turn, it’s going to benefit Jimmy. That's what they pay us for -- brand representation. And if we go out and have a great night in Vegas, they want people to know about it. They want people to come stay at MGM.  They want people to come stay at Aria or Bellagio. And they've been wonderful to us.

Why did you ever want to pursue journalism or law? A career is social media seems like the greatest thing ever.

The stuff that I learned in college is not really relevant anymore. Social media was just starting. There wasn't Facebook when I was finishing college. The traditional marketing mediums are not as relevant anymore as they once were.

You said Jimmy isn’t into Twitter like you are. Ever post a photo or message that made Jimmy say, “What were you thinking?”

I try to put stuff out there that he would happy with. I try not to do anything that upsets him -- or makes his agent mad at me (laughs).

Your Twitter bio says you're opinionated. Any heated Twitter exchanges you can share?

It's funny, because I think one of the negative things about Twitter is people can say whatever they want. There's no recourse for anything. You can say something and people are going to believe it, or they're not going to believe it. 

What’s something that set you off?

I have been told on a few occasions that I am just a wife and my opinion doesn't matter. The other day somebody told me, "You are not a golfer. Stop embarrassing your husband." Would he tell his wife or his girlfriend or his mother that her opinion doesn't matter? It's shocking to me, the stuff that people say. And he followed me, so obviously he wants to hear what I have to say. Something that infuriates me the most is when people think I don't know what I'm talking about. I watch more rounds of golf than anybody else. If Butch [Harmon, Walker’s coach] needs to know what's going on, he texts me. I have a direct access to Butch, and there are not a lot of people that can say that. I don't know that there are a whole lot of wives that can say that

Have you always been in to golf?

I grew up an athlete. I didn't play golf, but I understand sports, and I'm still a huge sports fan.  I'm a competitive athlete myself. And if we have a contract to go over I'm like, "Hey, send it to me,"  and Jimmy’s agent copies me on everything. So, I am part of a team.  And when people say that because I'm a wife, my opinion doesn't matter, I get a little heated (laughs).

Erin Walker

You have more than 20,000 Twitter followers. How many have you blocked this year?

I've blocked quite a few in the past year, just for various reasons (laughs). I’ve probably blocked 100.

What are your favorite accounts to follow?

I follow Sports Illustrated and ESPN. I follow the Broncos, until they fired my coach [John Fox], and now I have to follow the Bears.  I follow some fashion -- US Weekly and Vogue.  I follow Rickie [Fowler], and I think I still follow Rory Mcllroy.

Do you follow other Tour wives?

I don’t follow many wives, but it’s not because I find them boring. There just aren’t many wives that are super-active on social media. I'm probably the most active. I do follow the PGA Tour Wives Association, Spouses in Sports and a few other girls. To be fair, I don’t follow many male golfers, either. Maybe only a dozen.

What’s something about your life on the road with Jimmy that would surprise people?

I don't think people realize how competitive I am in my own sport -- show jumping -- how big I actually jump and how much time it takes up. Jimmy and I are trying to balance being competitive athletes. I'm pretty sure I'm one of the only wives that has a separate sport, that’s competitive in something else. Not to say that the other girls don't have a lot of really cool interests, but maybe not necessarily sports. I travel probably 15 weeks a year. Between the two of us, we're probably only home 10 weeks a year.

And you have two kids. How do you manage all of that?

We’ve got a lot going on. I try to balance the horse stuff on his off weeks. I'm not going to throw any other cities under the bus, but there are a couple cities that we don't mind skipping.

Do you travel on the road with your horse?

I have three horses, and they are all in Virginia with my trainer.  So, he rides them when I can't be there.  But, it's like golf: you could go to a different horse show every single week if you wanted to, all year long. I just did a month in Kentucky and rode for four weeks.  So Jimmy and I were apart for three of those weeks.

How many wins do you have?

I had a really, really good horse that I just actually leased out right now, but I probably won, I don't know, 20 or 30 classes on him?  Maybe more than that.  A lot.  I won a lot on him.

Why not try to turn pro?

I don't have the time to become a professional. Maybe someday, eventually, if we have the horses at home. But, to be nationally ranked? Yeah, I would like to be in the top 10 in my division and my height, but we'll see (laughs). I don't think people realize how hard it is. I just show up at horse shows and ride. I don't get to practice very much.  Most of the girls that I compete against ride three horses a day, four horses a day. I take three- or four-week breaks and then come in and try to ride against them. And sometimes it goes really well and sometimes it goes not so well. I’ve fallen off and broken my shoulder. So, yeah, it's a little different from golf!  

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