How to Declare Pro Status in Golf: All You Need to Know

If you’re an avid golfer and looking to go pro, there are two different options that you might be considering: a Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Golf Professional and a Touring Professional. But how do you declare pro status in golf? 

To become a Touring Pro, you simply need to say that you begin to play for money and enter into a tournament with prize money. However, to become a PGA Golf Pro, you will devote about three years to intensive study, work experience, exams, and fees before entering into the PGA as a golf pro.

In the rest of this article, we will take a closer look at the steps required to go pro in either of these ways.

We will see exactly what is required if you are interested in becoming a PGA Golf Pro and what steps will be necessary along the way to achieve that rewarding certification.

How to Become a PGA Golf Pro

A PGA Golf Pro is usually someone who runs a golf course or has a golf-related professional and will be responsible for teaching, running tournaments, and other related tasks.

If you’re interested in having a golf-related career, such as the golf course manager, golf instructor, or course designer, this is the route you will want to take. 

The process is an intensive commitment but can be thought of like a college education. It is the way to prepare yourself for and be qualified for a career in the golf industry. 

The program established for this career path is known as the PGA Golf Management University Program (PGM).

There are three levels to this program, each level taking on average one year to complete. Of course, there are some basic requirements, such as being at least 18 years old and having a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Once those criteria are met, let’s look at how you can get started with the process.

Get a Job in the Golf Industry

If you don’t already have, the first thing you will need is a job in the golf industry.

Usually, this will involve working under someone who is already a PGA Professional and could be a position such as an assistant at a golf club.

There is a range of jobs that will qualify, but you will need to be working for at least six months before you sign up for the program. 

Additionally, you will need to remain actively working in your role for about three years.

This is mandatory to fulfill the work experience portion of the program.

Another important note here is that if you were to join an amateur golf tournament somewhere in your employment time, you would be giving up all your work experience gained before participating in that golf event. 

Pass a Background Check

Before you are able to register for the PGM program, you will need to successfully pass a background check. This will be completed online and will be paid for by you.

Pass the Entry Exam

Once the background check is complete, it’s time to pass the first written exam. Before you can get started with the first official level of study, you will need to pass this qualifying level.

This will include five topics you will study on your own, and once you pass, you will be able to move on to the next step.

Prove Your Golf Abilities

Of course, if you are looking to make a golf career, you must have the skills yourself.

The Player Ability Test (also known as the PAT) is a skills test where you are asked to play two rounds of golf, each of which will be assigned a particular score.

If you shoot lower than the assigned score, you pass the test. 

According to the PGA, only 20% of people who attempt the PAT pass it successfully.

It is a test you must diligently prepare for and bring your best game to. Your score on this test will be good for eight years.

So, you will have time between passing this test and having to register and begin your course of study officially.

Register and Begin Your Course Work

Once you have completed all prior steps, you can officially register. This will involve submitting paperwork and paying a fee.

From this point, studying begins. This part of the process will look the most like university classes, with textbooks, self-study, exams, and seminars

Each of the three levels of coursework will usually take about a year to complete, but you can work at your own pace as long as you finish each level within three years of its start.

Each level will involve final exams that you must pass to move on to the next level of study. 

Complete All Course Work

Once each level has been completed within the proper timeline, you will also need to have finished your work experience. You will need 30 credits of work experience in your job in the golf industry. 

For each month of full-time employment, you earn one credit of work experience. Therefore, after three years of continuous full-time employment, you will have satisfied the work experience portion of the PGM.

Pay Your Fees and Get Elected In

For each step in the process, you will be required to pay fixed fees determined by the PGA. For the full look at these fees.

To give you a general idea, a rough total based on the current fee structure will be around $4,000 for the whole program.

Once all of these steps have been completed, you are finally eligible to be elected into the PGA. Once this happens, you are ready to begin seeking out your dream job in the golf industry.

Alternative Ways of Completing the PGM

The PGM is now available as part of the curriculum in 20 universities in the USA.

If you are entering university and can choose this as your course of study, you will have the ability to graduate with both a bachelor’s degree and the PGA Golf Professional status. 

Another benefit of this route is that you will have the university’s infrastructure and its experienced mentors to guide you effectively through the program.

Benefits of Completing the PGM

By becoming a PGA Golf Professional in this manner, you will have a credential that will be widely recognized and respected through the golf industry.

It will be a sign to future employers of your skill and commitment as it is well-known how extensive this program is in the golf world.

How to Become a Touring Pro

Becoming a touring pro requires much less formal coursework than becoming a PGA golf professional.

You can simply say one day, “I’m going to play for money,” and that’s it, you’re a golf professional.

However, your ability to actually make a living from your golf game is highly dependent on your skills and performance on the course. 

If you’re looking to get into higher stakes tournaments, you will have to play in a qualifying round.

This could be on the local level, national, or for the few that are at the very top of the game a highly competitive tour such as the PGA Tour.

Final Thoughts

If you’re an avid golfer with a dream of making the game into your career, you have options to make this dream reality.

If you’re interested in playing for money, you can join in pro tournaments and let your game speak for itself.

If you are more interested in teaching or business management, you can pursue this interest through the PGA’s educational program.

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