The great game of golf, known by many as the “Gentleman’s Game,” is undoubtedly one of the world’s most popular sports fueled by fun, skill, and rigorous competition. Golf is one of the most unforgiving tests on both the body and the mind, and anyone who has ever taken a few swings at a golf ball would have immediately gained respect for the professionals.
Here’s how to become a pro golfer:
- Invest in regular golf training.
- Gain a collegiate scholarship or become a junior club pro.
- Participate in several amateur golf competitions.
- Participate in golf mini tour events.
- Register for Q school.
- Compete in PGA qualifying tournaments.
- Compete in the PGA Tour.
Becoming a professional golfer is a long and challenging process and is unlike any other professional sport. Becoming a professional golfer requires a high skill level backed by regular training, competitions in several events, going through Q school, and finally playing the PGA Tour.
Perhaps beating your friends in a couple of games on a stunning course has given you a significant confidence boost and left you wondering if you have what it takes to take on the game’s greats and earn your share of millions of dollars. Discover what it takes to become the best in the sport and earn the title of being a professional golfer.
Becoming A Pro Golfer
Although the game of golf is a relatively straightforward, simple sport, anyone who has ever wrapped their hands around a golf club and taken a swing at a few balls at the driving range or on a golf course will know that this is by no means an easy task.
Golf is a game of sheer precision and skill, and while it can offer a tremendous amount of fun, it can also be highly frustrating at times. There’s no doubt about it; golf is hard.
The road to becoming a professional in this prestigious sport is challenging and highly competitive. There are limited spots available like in other professional sports, meaning that thousands compete for their chance in the spotlight.
The PGA Tour, for example, is the biggest dream for passionate golfers. However, only 125 players can hold a full tour card in these prestigious events each year.
What makes golf different from other sports is that there are no teams to be drafted into to finally be considered a professional. In fact, the title of amateur or professional is very much in your own hands. You could take on the title of professional and enter yourself into various pro events – provided you have a substantial amount of finances.
For instance, a handicap of “scratch” is not required, but most players are not advised to turn professional and enter open tournaments with a handicap of higher than 3.
However, going through and trusting the process will undoubtedly be far more beneficial, especially since nowadays, a “professional” status on its own is not enough to take you all the way to the glory of the PGA Tour. Let us discover in more detail what it will require for you to take your golfing skills to a truly professional level.
1. Invest In Regular Golf Training
For some, this goes without saying, while for others, it might be a little humbling, but taking the time to invest in your golfing ability through extensive training and coaching is the most beneficial thing that you could ever do for yourself in this sport.
Learning from the best is the starting point and should remain an integral part of your journey of becoming and remaining a professional golfer. The sport of golf requires impeccable technique and consistency, without which you will unfortunately never get very far.
Read more: 7 Reasons Why Golf Lessons Are Worth It.
Ideally, you should spend several hours each week at the driving range practicing your swinging technique, putting accuracy and taking your skills to your local golf course to work on your handicap.
2. Gain a Collegiate Scholarship or Become a Junior Club Pro
Gain a place in a prestigious golf scholarship program at a division 1 NCAA college. This offers world-class coaching and a competitive tournament schedule tailor-made for entering the professional ranks. Plus, there is the chance to study and complete a degree as a fallback if things turn sour on the golf course later. This is the preferred path for most American golf professionals.
Several European players have also followed this path, most notably Jon Rahm in recent times.
Most European players start as junior professionals or apprentice greenkeepers working at clubs when they are about 18 years old. They have to work in the club shop or out on the fairways, but this allows them free access to the course once their days’ work is done to hone their skills. They then enter local open competitions, progressing to regional and national as they improve.
In both cases (if results go their way), this allows them to be selected for international amateur tournaments such as the Walker Cup. A strong showing in such an event is a good way of testing if a player has the “right stuff” to later enter Q school and pass out as a tour professional.
3. Participate In Several Amateur Golf Competitions
Once you feel confident with your golfing abilities, it is time to put them to the test. Amateur competitions are a great way to master the art of performing under pressure. Most states have a local golfing association, and joining these is a great way to get involved in local events and competitions.
There are also a few well-known USGA (United States Golf Association) events to play in, like the US Open or the US Amateur, to name a few. Here you will begin to get a taste of the competitive nature of golf since these competitions require making it through local qualifying events, of which only 100 individuals will qualify. Again Walker cup selection or alike at this point is a good indicator of your progress.
4. Participate In Golf Mini Tour Events
Once you have become a seasoned competition golfer in the amateur leagues and ideally dominate most of the competitions, you might be ready to take on the title of “professional golfer” and enter yourself into professional competitions.
Remember that once you decide to do this, you will no longer be able to compete in amateur competitions. You will also need a lot more money since entry fees for professional golf events are significantly higher.
Sourcing sponsorship is a great help at this point to help you on your professional golf journey. However, the top players do get paid at events at this level, so hopefully, you will be making a profit.
Some players also decided to try their luck abroad at this point and look to Europe or Asia. In such events as the Scottish or Irish Open, wins are a sure-fire way of getting ‘invites’ to top PGA Tournaments where a good performance or even a win can lead to an automatic PGA Tour status.
5. Register For Q School
Q school is the PGA’s qualifying school. To go to Q school, you will need to go through this highly competitive four-month journey comprised of four stages of elimination – after already having competed in several professional golf events – against some of the world’s best golfers with the same passion and zeal as you to get to the big leagues.
Once again, the stakes are incredibly high, as only the top 25 golfers in Q school will be able to fully advance into the next stage of their golfing careers.
6. Compete In PGA Qualifying Tournaments
Completing Q school in the top 25 golfers will automatically earn you a spot on the prestigious golfing event, the Korn Ferry Tour, which is considered the last step before the PGA Tour. Making it to the Korn Ferry Tour will likely be your first taste of extensive travel and undoubtedly the most rigorous competition that you have experienced.
Once again, lucky number 25 comes into play. Finishing the Korn Ferry Tour in the top 25 earns you the holy grail – a PGA Tour card – which is your ticket and invitation to be able to compete in the world’s most elite golfing tournament.
7. Compete In The PGA Tour
Now that you’ve truly earned your spot amongst the best of the best, you’ll have the opportunity to compete for the highest possible ranking in the sport – the best golfer in the world. I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to come this far. Yet I can still dream of becoming a pro golfer.
Making it to this level is far from easy, and staying amongst the top 125 to keep your PGA Tour card is another thing altogether. Many professionals lose their card and battle to keep their spot every year. Keeping form, staying injury-free, and conquering the mental side of golf is why pro golfers lose their status.
Do you want to learn more about the mental aspects of golf? Check out this article, Why Golf Is a Mental Game.
All in all, the journey to becoming a professional golfer is unquestionably a challenging one. Many hours of practice, competitions, and a whole lot of money will be needed to advance up the ladder over years and years.
There is no age limit. Starting young has its advantages, but turning professional in one’s late 20’s or even in your 30s is not unheard of. However, if you are passionate enough, the process will be gratifying and undoubtedly rewarding as golf players are paid a lot of money.
Nonetheless, if you’re not quite good enough for the full-time professional tour, becoming a club professional offers steady employment and is a great way to make a living. This work usually involves running the club shop, repairing equipment, and offering to coach club members – with the chance to play a couple of rounds every week for free.
Or you could become a full-time coach giving private lessons to amateurs and even fellow professionals.
It must be also said that as long as you graduate from Q school, it doesn’t matter how you get to the professional tour level. A man noted for his ‘singular’ attitude was English 6-time major winner and Ryder Cup star Nick Faldo. He famously turned down a scholarship and worked as a carpet fitter, devoting all his spare time and money to pursuing his golfing dream.