From Amateurs to Pros: A Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Golf Career

The path to becoming a professional golfer requires dedication and skill. It usually starts at an early age. Starting young offers a great advantage as being a successful golfer depends a great deal on good habits and muscle memory. It also allows golfers to experience different courses and other aspects they can benefit from down the road. Getting to play golf at the highest level can be difficult but it’s attainable.

Junior and high school level

Many young golfers start competing in junior tournaments before they are even teenagers. Playing in junior tournaments can prepare them for the pressures of competition. Getting advice from PGA professionals can help them to develop good swing habits from an early age. These professionals may offer lessons one-on-one or in group settings.

Playing golf in high school gives players the opportunity to assess how they compare with others on a local and state-wide basis. At this stage, players with potential often dominate in their states and win championships. This was when golfers like Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler began to stand out.

Now that sports betting is legal in many U.S. states, Americans can bet now right from their computers or mobile phones. They can place bets on pro golfers like Tiger Woods to win championships.

Highly ranked juniors usually play in events like the State Golf Association Championships and PGA Junior Championships. Playing in various high-level amateur events can help them to progress.

College level

In the United States, 18 of the major universities have a college degree program that’s accredited by the PGA. On completion, students earn a Bachelor’s degree and a Class A PGA membership.

The best golfers in college will play Division 1 level golf at universities like the University of Texas, Stanford, Florida State, and UC Berkeley. This gives them access to top coaches, state-of-the-art facilities, and some great competition.

NCAA Golf is a breeding ground for some of the top golfers of all time. Today, all NCAA college golfers have the opportunity to earn a direct path to the PGA and affiliate tours. 

The difference between amateur and professional golfers

There is a hard line in the U.S. between amateur and professional golfers. Top bankers and investors earn excellent salaries, but top professional golfers can earn even more. Professional golfers receive payments or financial rewards related to their skill or reputation.

Amateur golfers who want to play professional golf need to carefully consider whether their game is good enough and if they have the time and means to make it happen. They must be able to shoot consistently under par in the familiar and casual setting of a home course. Playing professionally considerably raises the stakes. The costs can outweigh the income for those always trying to fight for status, especially on lower-level tours.

Mini tours

When professional golfers first start out, they usually play mini tours. Some of these mini-tours are:

  • West Florida Golf Tour
  • Florida Elite Tour
  • Florida Professional Golf Tour
  • Minor League Golf Tour
  • Cactus Tour
  • Gateway Tour
  • Carolina Mountain Professional Golf Tour

Making it to the PGA Tour or LPGA Tour

The eventual goal is to play in the PGA Tour or LPGA Tour. The usual route to the PGA or LPGA Tour is through annual qualifying tournaments. Pros will play in these tournaments in the hopes of making it to the highest level of golfing. A limited number of qualifiers make it and gain full status on the PGA or LPGA Tour. Various international tours also have their qualifying tournaments.

Golfers who secure membership status on tour must maintain that status every year. They need to stay on the tour’s points or money list. Winning a PGA or LPGA tour event gets golfers a two-year extension. Winning a major event gets them a five-year extension.

Playing professional golf has many advantages, such as fame, money, apparel, equipment deals, etc. However, it also means making sacrifices like living on the road and fearing the loss of a card or status. There are various careers for those who love the game but don’t reach the top levels of golf.

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