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Golfer6969

Dream of Turning Pro

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Hi all,

I have played golf on and off since I was 16 (am now 22) without ever putting in much practice other than playing rounds. In 2018 I decided I wanted to pursue some sort of career in golf (most likely as a club professional) and so started putting in some hard hours. I spent March - May of 2018 practicing a lot (5-6 hours a day) and cut my handicap more than in half, from 11 to 5 in a 2 month period after playing about 5 or 6 qualifying rounds at my home course (the best of which being +1). I could play to probably a 2-3 handicap after this practice period but there just simply wasn’t enough tournaments at that time of year to get the handicap down any faster. I then barely touched a golf club for about 8/9 months due to work commitments. In March of this year I played a couple rounds, and really enjoyed myself, so put in some light practice in the following couple weeks and played in my first qualifier in ages last weekend, shooting +4. My short game was rubbish, but my ball striking was surprisingly good.

I know this is information overload but I am trying to get across the time frames in which I was able to achieve things previously and with what length of practice etc... My question is, based on previous practice results, if I wanted to aim for a handicap of say +3 or +4 how long do you reckon this would take and is achieving tour pro status ever going to be realistic?

 

I find myself in a situation where if I wanted to I could practice 6-7 hours a day, with access to very good quality tuition - I understand this would be a multi year project, but even with all this in mind, am I living in fantasy land?

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Yep, fantasy.  Sorry.

The difference between a 6hcp and scratch is enormous.  The difference between scratch and +3 is even greater, and the difference between +3 and a PGA Tour Pro is greater yet.  The commercials are right.  Those guys are ridiculously good!

Golf is a great game, and one that you can play for a lifetime.  There are also plenty of opportunities to make a living in and around the game without playing for your paycheck.  Enjoy it for what it is.  :beer:

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9 minutes ago, David in FL said:

Yep, fantasy.  Sorry.

The difference between a 6hcp and scratch is enormous.  The difference between scratch and +3 is even greater, and the difference between +3 and a PGA Tour Pro is greater yet.  The commercials are right.  Those guys are ridiculously good!

Golf is a great game, and one that you can play for a lifetime.  There are also plenty of opportunities to make a living in and around the game without playing for your paycheck.  Enjoy it for what it is.  :beer:

Yep. This pretty much sums it up. Yeah it sucks but unfortunately it’s true. The good news is you’re a good player at a very difficult game and like @David in FL said there are other ways to make golf your career other than by playing to survive. Cheers.

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He said himself "most likely a club professional".

I believe the answer probably is:

  • Club Professional: Maybe, but not likely.
  • Touring Professional: No chance.

Others will have better insight than me. So take it for what it's worth.

Sounds like you're playing at a high level @golfer6969. I know many golfers (myself included) that would do some awful things to have the game you have. So, congrats!

Edited by SPJr

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There is no reason you couldn't be a club pro. Get your handicap down to near scratch, then turn pro. 

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10 minutes ago, SPJr said:

He said himself "most likely a club professional".

At the end, his specific question was whether he could reasonably expect to achieve tour pro status...

 

4 minutes ago, Beastie said:

There is no reason you couldn't be a club pro. Get your handicap down to near scratch, then turn pro. 

You really don’t even need to be anywhere near scratch to pass the PAT...

I tried once many years ago, just on a whim because I thought it would be a fun way to spend a Saturday. Without any real preparation, on a course I wasn’t very familiar with, I missed by two strokes, the result of an ill-advised driver into some poor guys swimming pool.  :8)     I was playing off 6ish at the time.

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5 minutes ago, David in FL said:

At the end, his specific question was whether he could reasonably expect to achieve tour pro status...

 

You really don’t even need to be anywhere near scratch to pass the PAT...

I tried once many years ago, just on a whim because I thought it would be a fun way to spend a Saturday. Without any real preparation, on a course I wasn’t very familiar with, I missed by two strokes, the result of an ill-advised driver into some poor guys swimming pool.  :8)     I was playing off 6ish at the time.

In the U.K. the top handicap limit is 4.4(or at least it was). It's a three year course after that to become fully qualified. Many club pros find their game loses its edge when they spend all day teaching and selling. 

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15 minutes ago, David in FL said:

At the end, his specific question was whether he could reasonably expect to achieve tour pro status...

What's your point?

I never said that he didn't mention being a tour pro.

All I pointed out was that he did acknowledge his "most likely" option was a club professional, which hadn't been addressed by the previous two responses.

Whether he intended it to be, or not. It really was a two part question, which warranted two responses, IMO.

Edited by SPJr

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24 minutes ago, David in FL said:

Yep, fantasy.  Sorry.

The difference between a 6hcp and scratch is enormous.  The difference between scratch and +3 is even greater, and the difference between +3 and a PGA Tour Pro is greater yet.  The commercials are right.  Those guys are ridiculously good!

Golf is a great game, and one that you can play for a lifetime.  There are also plenty of opportunities to make a living in and around the game without playing for your paycheck.  Enjoy it for what it is.  :beer:

Absolutely. At my peak i was playing +3 golf and still wasn't really competitive against any level of professional player. Or even the elite amateurs like Spieth, Folwer etc... Id say the distance in skill between me (as a scratch player)  and an average tour pro is the same between me and a 20 handicap. They're that good.  Id advance to sectionals in US open qualifying back in my glory days and be made to feel like a chop by guys who where barley hanging on in the web tour.. 

With hard work and dedication i suppose anything is possible. But realistically i think you're looking at a career as a local PGA professional or mini tour player at your age. Perhaps the champions tour. I think if you  consistently played at a plus level, you'd might be able to make some decent cheese as PGA pro. Some of those guys make over 50k a year on course in addition to their club pro gigs. 

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Golfer6969.   According to the scores that you said you shot, look into the PAT (Playing Ability Test) schedule in your area. It's a requirement to enter the courses for obtaining club & instructor pro. The test is to play back to back, same day, 18 holes. add the total score plus 15 strokes to pass. Hope this helps. Good Luck to you.

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It’s course rating x 2 + 15, yes.

It’s not as easy as people say. Fewer than 2% pass the first time. Less than 50% ever pass.

But it’s not hard either.

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1 hour ago, Pretzel said:

I don't mean to put a damper on things for you, but I can give you my personal experience (which seems fairly similar to yours) and my honest opinion.

I was in a situation somewhat similar to yours with just a slightly earlier timescale, in that I played golf not too competitively until I decided to truly get serious starting in the spring of my junior year of high school. At this time I was approximately a 15 handicap golfer or so, occasionally getting lucky and breaking 80 (on easy courses) and but mostly shooting mid-80s to mid-90's for my scores. That spring I started working at a golf course. From March until May I played 2 rounds a day on the weekends and 9 holes a day during the week after school. From May until August I played 1-3 full rounds every single day, with only 7-10 days off for a vacation. 

In that one summer I was able to go from about a 15 handicap down to a 2 handicap golfer. I was hitting the ball a lot better, my short game was sharper, my tee shots could be controlled, it was a huge difference all around. I played my senior year of high school golf and did pretty well, enough that I was in talks with coaches from a couple of different colleges. By the time the snow melted and spring rolled back around I had slid back to about a +5 handicap thanks to the break, but I played every day again the next summer. The best my handicap ever got to was +2.3 that summer, but stabilized at about +1.5 towards the end of the summer. 

Unfortunately the colleges didn't pan out, since the college that made an offer didn't have engineering. No big loss, I figured I could try to walk on to the team where I did go. I played in the US Open Qualifier the summer after my sophomore year of college, having practiced a fair bit in the spring, to see how my golf game was once I was through with the time-consuming "weed out" courses for engineering and could have time for the golf team. You can read about my experience at the qualifier in the thread below.

Long story short, it didn't go too well. I changed a lot of things right before the event (including buying a new set of blades that I hadn't practiced enough with, having previously used S55 irons) and just overall played poorly. It wasn't the clubs' fault, it wasn't the course's fault, I just didn't play great. I kept golfing through the summer and ended the year at a +0.7 handicap, if I remember correctly, but never again got back below a +1.

I know that my personal limits were found when I got to a +2.3 handicap. I was playing multiple rounds of golf most days for 2 months in a row by that point in time, and to see more improvement I would have had to be able to find the funding to dedicate my life entirely to golf. I would've needed a regular (at least once a week, but ideally more often) schedule with a swing coach, a place to live while doing nothing but golfing, and the money to keep buying balls and wedges (I was going through 2 sets of wedges a year for those two years) as well as entering more and more tournaments. I wouldn't have been able to make do just by playing the same "average" course every day (Saddleback Golf Club, not a bad course but the greens were always rough and slow), and I would've needed to have access to multiple different championship quality layouts to practice on and hone my skills.

It's possible that with that kind of work I could've gotten to better than a +3, and I think it's possible I MAY have reached as good a game as a +4 if I hit a hot streak for one handicap revision. I could have possibly even reached the sectional qualifying rounds for the U.S. Amateur or the U.S. Open. Despite being able to drop nearly 15 strokes from my handicap in only 5 months, and being able to go from a 5 to a +2.3 in 3 months, it was clear to me at that point that I was never going to be a touring professional.

To give some perspective about why this is, we can take a look at the post from back in 2013 when one of our members got to play  a round with Graeme McDowell:

and this later post in the thread:

The gist of it is that Graeme came out to play in the middle of December for a promotional event with his sponsors (Srixon and GolfNow), and shot a 63 like it was nothing. To be fair he was ranked #12 in the OWGR at the time, not just any tour journeyman, but he still was able to shoot a 63 while shooting the breeze with a couple of other guys, talking during his swings, joking around, all of that. This is comparable to what you see from Monday qualifying results (https://www.mondayq.com/) where the guys who make it are shooting 67 at worst if they want to make it into the tournament on a PGA-difficulty course.

The best tournament round, or round of golf period, of my life was a 65. I felt like everything was going my way, and I knew I was playing at the peak of my abilities. I was 5 under par the first day of the tournament (the 65), and 4 under par on the front 9 of the second day. It's the best 27 holes of golf I've ever played, and I know it is the best 27 holes of golf I can reasonably expect to ever play again. The problem is that I was shooting these scores at municipal courses. Decent courses, of course, but the CR was 70-72 for both of those courses rather than the 76+ for many PGA Tour setups. I played out of my mind for 27 holes, and even then I was 3 shots worse than Graeme on a day where he was messing around and 4-8 shots behind the guys playing in Monday qualifiers that aren't even good enough (or just aren't lucky enough) to maintain a tour card.

It was the best golf I've ever played and I was quite happy with it, but that was when I realized just how impossible it would be for me to make the Tour and make a living off of it. Sure, if I dedicated my life to golf and had others fund my efforts I could've made a run at it. I might have even had marginal success on mini-tours, possibly making it into a Tour event once with a lucky Monday qualifier performance where I again played out of my mind (if the others didn't). But when it takes a stroke of extreme luck for me to shoot anything better than a 69 or 68, and even those scores in the 60's are pretty uncommon (my +2.3 was created with rounds that averaged less than 1 under par, just played on a course with a more difficult rating), it really solidified in my mind just how good and different the pros are even from amateur golfers playing at their peak.

 

Damn.  It was fun to go back and read that again!  :-)

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I’ve played well over 100 rounds with Scott Parel, now on the Tour Champions. When he played with our group, the over/under side bet was always 65. He’s shot 60 three different times, once with me, on a course with a 72.9 rating and 139 slope. Also played with Wesley Bryan and Vaughn Taylor and countless D1 college guys.

Most golfers have no idea of that level of play, or even the night and day difference between college and professional. If someone had illusions, they would become quickly returned to reality.

Bob Clecky, former long time head pro at Augusta National, told a young golfer asking the same question  you are about professional golf, “if you can’t beat everyone in a 100 mile radius 9 of 10 times, you have no chance “

Sorry for the cold shower. Welcome to The Sand Trap.

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55 minutes ago, LMoore said:

“if you can’t beat everyone in a 100 mile radius 9 of 10 times, you have no chance “

Of course that's quite different if you're in North Dakota or Florida.😁. But yeah it's incredibly difficult and even more so today. My cousin played on the tour in the 80's-early 90's. Solid golfer of course and just couldn't make ends meet. He'd come and play with his dad, me and my dad. We would play the local municipal courses and it was just ridiculous. He could fire 64-65 all while joking around and just enjoying the round with us. Just such fierce competition out there and those guys are just sick good.

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18 minutes ago, Vinsk said:

Of course that's quite different if you're in North Dakota or Florida.😁. But yeah it's incredibly difficult and even more so today. My cousin played on the tour in the 80's-early 90's. Solid golfer of course and just couldn't make ends meet. He'd come and play with his dad, me and my dad. We would play the local municipal courses and it was just ridiculous. He could fire 64-65 all while joking around and just enjoying the round with us. Just such fierce competition out there and those guys are just sick good.

Agree. It was Clecky’s way of telling this young man to get an education and a good job. If you knew Bob, you would know how much I’ve cleaned up the words.

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Very interesting reading all the different takes, I have to say I got the responses I expected... and in a way that is what I waned. Nothing motivates me more than someone saying something is never gonna happen or is one in a million 🤷🏻‍♂️ At the bare minimum my journey should be able to take me to becoming a club professional - a job I’d absolutely love, and at the maximum  could prove you all wrong... anyone interested in having progress updates? I think I may surprise a few of you...

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28 minutes ago, Golfer6969 said:

Very interesting reading all the different takes, I have to say I got the responses I expected... and in a way that is what I waned. Nothing motivates me more than someone saying something is never gonna happen or is one in a million 🤷🏻‍♂️ At the bare minimum my journey should be able to take me to becoming a club professional - a job I’d absolutely love, and at the maximum  could prove you all wrong... anyone interested in having progress updates? I think I may surprise a few of you...

A club professional is a realistic aspiration. It requires you to shoot no more than 15 strokes above the course rating over 2 days of competition, meaning shooting 79 or better twice on a standard difficulty par 72 course.

The most difficult part of becoming a club professional, assuming you want to be a PGA Club Professional, is the lack of structure they set for the apprenticeship program (the self-guided design is not for everyone) or the cost of attending one of the PGA Management Program colleges.

As far as a tour professional goes, if you aren't already an accomplished golfer by the time you turn 22 your odds decrease from a million to one down to about ten million to one or worse.

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