You’ve long surpassed the achievement of breaking 90, and your golf game continues to improve. You sink long putts, hit straight drives, dominate opponents, and have the will and desire to master the game of golf.
At this point, the thought sneaks into your mind: “Am I good enough to go pro? And if I am, what do I need to do next?”
Well, make no concessions. Learning how to become a pro golfer is something few consider and even less achieve. But if you’re serious about going pro, take the following steps toward becoming a future linksman with these tips and ideas.
Before you dive into the steps of becoming a professional golfer, you need to have realistic expectations. According to the PGA of America, there are only 29,000 PGA professionals in the United States. Of these, only about 225 play on the pro tour — many of them are from overseas. Moreover, the Professional Athlete Index estimates that only one out of 51,436 people worldwide becomes a pro golfer — or around 0.002%. And once you factor in the idea that only a select few of these pros have the opportunity to play in a PGA major, it’s an uphill battle.
On the bright side, you still have a better chance of becoming a pro golfer than being struck by lightning, but hard work and dedication — on top of natural talent — are an absolute requirement.
According to a Keiser University study, the average age of a professional golfer is 35 years old. However, that doesn’t mean you’re a shoo-in if you’re 33. Most players in professional golf start when they’re children, giving them decades to learn the game.
With that thought in mind, the average age of the 16 best players on the PGA Tour is 28.9 years, lowering the bar for aspiring pro golfers already in their late 20s or older.
Still, a positive mindset can propel you in the right direction. You must resist doubt in the most challenging times but continue to work on your game even when you succeed. You have to become a student of the game at every turn — even when you’re not on the course. But if you have the insatiable desire to compete at the highest level, read on to learn how to become a pro golfer.
The road to becoming a professional golfer is long and arduous — not everyone is Tiger Woods. Interestingly, the steps are relatively straightforward; the competition is what poses the greatest hurdle. But by following these steps, you can begin answering your overarching questions about becoming a pro golfer.
Grit, natural talent, and determination will only get you so far. Golf is as much mental as physical, and the only way to overcome holes in your game or setbacks is to hire someone as a coach, mentor, and confidant.
Personal golf coaches are easy to find — you can ask around your local course. But if you want to find someone to transform your game and help you transcend to the next level, a teaching professional certified by the PGA is almost a requirement. They can adjust your golf swing, guide your drive or short game, help you choose the right golf ball, get you fitted for the perfect golf clubs and putters, and give you supplemental ideas and materials to hone your craft.
Unfortunately, a coach won’t come cheap. Happy Gilmore stumbling across Chubbs at the driving range isn’t a likely scenario for you (although you should probably be out on the range as much as you can). But if you can budget roughly $500 to $1,000 a week or find the best coach who fits your budget, it will put you on the first stepping stone on the path.
Even if you love golf, you can’t forge a career on that alone. Tour professionals treat the game like it’s their job. And just like a job, routine and building skills are tantamount to success. Not only do you work on your golf game, but your diet and nutrition, mental approach, workout regimen, and supplementary materials — such as golf books — are essential to your chances of getting a PGA Tour card.
Beyond your routine and coaching, you may also need to consider relocating. Though living in Canada or Montana may suit your climate preferences, you can’t play golf year-round. Moving to some golf hot spots that provide that option — such as Florida, California, or Arizona — can ensure you’re playing more often than not.
How you go pro depends on your age. If you’re in high school or college, joining the golf team and getting involved in tournaments can catapult your golf career to the next level. You receive the training you need, can test your skills against decent or above-average competition, and decide if the next stage of how to become a pro golfer is right for you.
If you’re past college, your journey is more convoluted but still achievable with the right attitude. Consider these options:
Side note: Many PGA Tour Events allow a certain number of invited amateurs. If you can win the PGA event, you automatically qualify for the PGA Tour. Known as a sponsor exemption, this can cut down on years of schooling and tournaments. Just ask Phil Mickelson, who won a PGA event in 1991 just after college to join the ranks of the best golfers in the world.
If you’re excelling on the course and you still want to take the next steps on how to become a pro golfer, qualifying school is the final stage before you’re against top-tier competition. Also known as Q-School, qualifying school is a four-month mix of playing and instruction. If you can finish in the top 25, you’re eligible for the Korn Ferry Tour; finish in the top 5, and you can become a PGA Tour player.
If you don’t make the top 5 in Q-School, don’t stress. You can still learn how to become a pro golfer by playing on the Korn Ferry Tour. This PGA-sponsored developmental golf tour offers regular qualifying tournaments to hone your craft while providing opportunities to join the PGA Tour. Finish in the Top 30 of the Korn Ferry points board or win three straight events to get your PGA Tour card, and you may just find yourself that much closer to the U.S. Open or PGA Championship.
Older players who want to discover how to become a professional golfer in other ways may want to take different routes. Players on the PGA Tour are increasingly finding new avenues to circumnavigate the time constraints of Q-School and the Korn Ferry Tour.
To that effect, many aspiring professionals are joining the PGA Tour in Australasia, Asia, and South Africa to get more playing time and lower the bar for competition. Others join the European Tour, which may provide playing opportunities with less time commitment, albeit against lesser competition.
This is self-explanatory. Every great player eats, sleeps, and breathes the game. If you’re not willing to do that, becoming a professional golfer is probably not the path for you.
Even if you don’t qualify for the PGA Tour, you still have plenty of options to make a living through golf. Many of these jobs are far more achievable, can help you earn six figures, and can still satiate your love of the game. Try a few of these on for size:
With so many opportunities available, you will indeed find something in the golfing industry. But before you give up on your dream, put forth your best effort, constantly learn the game, and with a little stroke of luck (pun intended), you may find yourself among the best golfers in the world.