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What it Takes to Go Pro


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someone in a thread similar to this one quoted lee trevino as saying "if you can play from the back tees on 10 courses you've NEVER played before and shoot under 70 on all of them... then you're good enough to go pro."

Even though the pros routinely shoot well over par, and miss cuts, on courses that they know like the back of their hand? The pros get hours of practice on every course, map them out with detailed yardage books, have a caddie with even more intimate knowledge of the course, and yet routinely shoot over par and miss cuts. Check the leaderboard at the AT&T; National for example. The cut line was +2 for two rounds, yet dozens of big names failed to meet that standard.

Statements like Trevinos are interesting, but don't add value to a discussion of whether any individual should or should not consider going pro. I think if shooting under 70 on 10 different unfamiliar courses was the test for going pro or keeping your tour card, there would be very few people on tour.
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This thought has also rang in my head, although I would never go pro. But I'd like to start competing in our local Am Pro/am tournys.
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I think it takes three things, and most everybody's got a different mixture of both in them (somewhere):

Ideally, the original poster (OP) would have started his quest as a child. Since that is no longer possible, here are some other options:

Practice Time - Depending on your financial situation, this could be the dream-killer. If you don't have to work for a living, you need to practice golf like it's a full-time job - at least 8 hours a day. To facilitate this, you should have been born wealthy, or recently sold an Internet-related business. Another option - get sponsors. Convince other people to support you for the next couple of years, so you can practice and not have to work a job. Offer them a percentage of your winnings. If these ideas don't work out, it's possible to work a job, and then practice after work and weekends. Please budget for the upcoming divorce and child-support payments. Also, the job cannot be any kind of job that requires you to be "on call" or carry a blackberry. When you are not working you need to be 100% focused on golf. Or if your wife is game, SHE can work and support your golf dream. Then once you turn pro YOU can divorce HER and hook up with a younger model. Proper Technique - My opinion - you will need to hire a coach to guide your practice and improvement. The fact that you're on a message board asking about going pro tells me you have NO IDEA what it takes, and how to get there. So you need a coach - ideally one who has coached pros. Forget Leadbetter and Haney - your budget cannot handle those guys, and you don't need that level of instruction yet, anyway. Get someone from the next tier. Natural Ability - Hard to tell how important this is. Since most pros started playing as kids, it's difficult to know if they were naturally gifted as golfers, or benefited from the fact that everything comes easier if you start it as a child. Probably if you looked at current tour pros, you will find a spectrum of athletic ability - some who played multiple sports in high school, and others who played golf so they wouldn't get picked on by the football players. I wouldn't worry too much about this - after all, there is no one on tour built like Terrell Owens.
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Ideally, the original poster (OP) would have started his quest as a child. Since that is no longer possible, here are some other options:

I honestly laughed out loud when I read that. That's freakin hilarious!

I think there's a common misconception out there, probably for all pro sports, that there's a certain formula to acheiving pro status. I think the only common thing between all pro athletes is the desire and dedication. Even that's questionable in some cases. Some have raw talent, while others work obsessively to get to the level they need to be at. As good as Tiger is, I think it's arguable that Phil has more raw talent. The difference is Tiger has worked harder to be where he is. That's not to say that Phil doesnt work hard, because we all know he does, but it's not at the same level that Tiger works. My suggestion to the OP is to truly assess yourself and your abilities. Set acheivable goals, reach them, then set more goals. Make sure you never lose your love for the game though, because you'll never go very far if you dont.
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I never even suspected this game was hard until I heard of so many people having trouble with it. I never once felt pressure until someone told me I should. At the risk of sounding delusional or ignorant, the game is easy. It's the individual that makes it hard. They beat themselves, mentally/physically, whatever. We are all born with different skill/traits/tendancies. I believe its the players that adapt and utilize their strengths that succeed. When you shoot a basketball, you don't think about it, you just do it. Will there be another Micheal Jordan? Probably not. Will there be another Tiger? Probably not... However there is a huge field of tour pros, and throngs of players waiting to take their place if they should fall off. Alot of people are so wrapped up in whats going on on the tour that they forget about their own game. Live in the moment. Live in your game. Tiger brought alot of people to the game, no doubt. And he is the best golfer at the moment. But he will be surpassed. It is inevitable. There have been many "best of their time" golfers, and all have been surpassed. Except Nicklaus, not yet, but it will happen. People who fight this game are just fighting themselves. NOONE is where they want to be, even top pros. There will ALWAYS be room for improvement. If you shattered every record held, you would still have records to beat, again.....Just swing the friggin thing.....
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Statements like Trevinos are interesting, but don't add value to a discussion of whether any individual should or should not consider going pro. I think if shooting under 70 on 10 different unfamiliar courses was the test for going pro or keeping your tour card, there would be very few people on tour.

I think the value that statement adds is to give some perspective to a level of play that the vast majority of golfers can't begin to comprehend. It's easier to understand then saying "come see me when you hit a +4 handicap index and we'll talk". Not to put words into Lee Buck's mouth, but my interpretation of that is more along the lines of "would you expect to break 70" under those circumstances. I think most tour pros pretty much expect to break 70 every time they stick a tee into the ground. Do they? Of course not. But the point seems to be that if you don't think you can do that, then you probably don't have the game (and the confidence in your game) necessary to compete in the show. Again......an attempt to provide some perspective for those of us who can't begin to imagine the level of play necessary to compete successfully in that arena. Just my .02 worth.
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You can prob answer your own question. Take a look at the current PGA Tour pros that are your age. They'll be your competition on the senior tour in 20 years. Do you think you'll be competitive with them?

Who knows where I will be in 20 years? That is 20 years that I have to get better. 20 years is a long time. Like I said, this isn't a goal or anything...I was just curious. I actually think it could be done if you set your mind to it. I don't see why it can't?
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After reading Paper Tiger by Tom Coyne (hands down the best book I've ever read, I must add) I really don't have the drive to try and go pro. As a 10 handicap at 17, I'd say I'm good for my age. I compete in tournaments, but I've only had one top five finish and never any wins. If I suddenly get better (which happens in golf, all of a sudden people just get so much better and it seems like it's all in just a month) then I'd really want to play college golf, division 1 somewhere. I know I'm already good enough to play division 3, which I'll probably end up doing, but over this next year I'm trying to get good enough to find a spot on a D-1 college team somewhere.

It's almost impossible to get on tour. I hate to sound like the guy to kill someone's dreams, but to be realistic, it's seriously close to impossible.
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I believe when Darren Clarke was 18 years old he was a 10 handicap. ....

Without the benefit of a formal lesson, he had a handicap of plus three by the age of 17.

...Paul Azinger couldn't break 80 when he was in high school.

He could by the time he was a senior. I found this in a bio, re: nine holes... "Started playing golf at age 5, but couldn't break 40 until he was a high school senior." Check out: How to Become a Professional Golfer By Jennifer Gregory I know guys who are +1 to +3 handicappers who cannot make a living playing golf. My understanding is a +3 or +4 who can perform well under pressure can manage to get by on the lesser tours. The guys on the PGA Tour are generally +5 or better. I believe Sergio was a +5 when he turned pro. It's hard to say because they do not carry handicaps, but you could figure it out by taking their scores and estimating the slope of the courses they play. I think someone figured out Tiger's handicap at Isleworth would be something crazy like +11. SubPar
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when you get to a certain point its not how much you practice but how you practice. you have to be mentally strong and conquer the fear of going low. most importantly make everything on the greens. Iv'e played with a few major champions and all of them got the ball in the hole different ways. But all of them were great putters.
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It's almost impossible to get on tour. I hate to sound like the guy to kill someone's dreams, but to be realistic, it's seriously close to impossible.

I am 31 so I know what my future consists of as far as this subject

But to say its impossible just seems so pessimistic. If it is that impossible, how are there so many people on tour all over the world? I understand that the number of players are small considering how many people play golf now, but to say it is impossible...I don't buy into it. People used to think the same thing about baseball....I had 5 or 6 friends that went pro straight out of high school. We have a pro at our course here that was actively on tour up until an elbow surgery last year and I have played with him multiple times...nothing blew my mind about his game. I actually have a friend that could beat him from time to time.
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Although I don't have time and dedication (added: or raw talent) to be a touring pro, I have toyed with the thought of becoming a teaching pro as a retirement gig. I will need the income since my 401K is 1/10000 the value that it was, but don't get me started on THAT. Granted, I have a lot to learn still to be able to do that even.
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I am 31 so I know what my future consists of as far as this subject

Ok, want me to rephrase that? It's almost impossible to

make money or a reasonable living on any tour.
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I hate to be rude, but i dont think people realize just how good tour players are. My home course hosts the Cox Classic , so I get a chance to compare myself with Nationwide Players as far as scores go.

I am about a plus one. From the tips at my home course, I have shot under par only a small handfull of times (low of 69 i believe), and i know every last break on the greens and every miniscule bounce that you will get in the fairways.

Every thursday during the Cox Classic, it is almost a given that somebody in the field shoots 62 or under. An the winner is usually somewhere around 20 under par for the tournament. So if your everyday slightly better than scratch golfer played lights out two days in a row, they might be able to make a cut. Maybe.

"These guys are good" is a serious understatement.
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I hate to be rude, but i dont think people realize just how good tour players are. My home course hosts the Cox Classic , so I get a chance to compare myself with Nationwide Players as far as scores go.

Agreed, 100%. In "Paper Tiger" by Tom Coyne he says that "The best player you know" is not even close to the player that's on the Tour. The way they hit the ball, it's just a different sound.

"Scratch is shit." That's the line he uses in the book, and it just puts it in perspective. Most of us consider a scratch golfer a pretty darn good player, and they are for sure...But compared to a Tour Professional, they really aren't.
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I hate to be rude, but i dont think people realize just how good tour players are. My home course hosts the Cox Classic , so I get a chance to compare myself with Nationwide Players as far as scores go.

well said my friend

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I know a ton of those so called +2 handicaps that want to make it on the tour.

Those are the same guys that were super stars in their little hometowns. Then they believe the hype about them and stop practicing and then start to shoot somewhere in the 70s with an occasional round in the high 60s and still think they are good enough to be on tour.

I literally know dozens of guys like that. Rich parents, took up golf at an early age, got lessons etc... are talented +2, +3 golfers, but have an absolutely horrendous work ethic. They practice maybe once a month for an hour, party for the rest of the time and then get pissed when they shoot somewhere in the mid 70s.

Of course to a 30 handicapper a scratch golfer is like a god. The question is how bad do you want it. The vast majority of people don't even bother trying because everyone tells them "You'll never make it. If you are not a +15 handicap by the time you turn 4 you have zero chance of making it. For every player that makes it on tour there are thousands that don't make it blablabla". Well guess what, those are the people that work a 9-5 have an ugly boss wife and watch tv all day. Those are the people that never took any chances in their lives.

Your handicap doesn't mean shit. On tour nobody gives a rats ass about your handicap or if you were an all american. The only thing that matters is if you can hit the ball in the fairway and hit your approach shot on the green while making a ton of putts. The pros don't play a different game, they just play it better. Not because they are super humans like some people make them out to be. It's because they've put in the hours. People only see the score on the leader board, but they don't see the thousands of hours the players have spent on the practice range and on the putting green to get to that level.

Mental toughness, an obsession with golf, ridiculous work ethic. Those are the guys that make it.
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