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Old 01-04-2010, 02:29 PM   #1
KD1987
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Becoming A Professional Golfer

Wanted to get some peoples thoughts on this. I am a 22 year old just getting out of college. I did not play golf in college b/c of other obligations that arose but i currently carry a +0.2 handicap and have been as low as a +1.7 in the last 2 years. I have experienced moderate success in many local and state(california) wide amateur tournies. Now that i am out of college and have some free time I am toying with the idea of really getting my game in good shape and taking a shot at some mini tours and eventually (hopefully) q-school or other types of qualifiers.

So basically my question is how long do people think it will take me to achieve my goal of playing professional events, as in how many months/years could it take someone of my ability to reach that level.

The thing that gives me hope is that i have never been a grinder when it comes to my golf game. I never practice/hit balls at the range, or even really warm up before i play, i kinda just go out there and do my thing. I kinda feel that with some true dedication in terms of practice and a workout plan it might actually be possible.

Thoughts much appreciated
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Old 01-04-2010, 02:59 PM   #2
Max H
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

For all but the top earners on the mini tours your expenses will likely exceed your winnings. For someone without play for money experience these tours provide a good benchmark to determine how your game compares to what is required to be successful.

Based on the information that you provided you will have to improve your game to become competitive. You seem to have an aptitude for the game but improvement is possible with diligent and informed practice.

The fact that you are not currently a grinder could work either way. You could improve dramatically or you may resent the extra work necessary and your game could regress.

Good luck with whatever you choose.
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Old 01-04-2010, 06:58 PM   #3
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

For what it's worth...I played professionally from 1996-2001, winning twice on the Hooters Tour and several times on other mini-tours. I regained my am status and then decided to enter Q school in 2008 as an am. I made it through all stages and had the 30th conditional card last year. That only got me in 6 events. The reason I tell you all of this is while I was an am I had to keep an official handicap and mine was a +5...I made 2 of 6 cuts this year on the Nationwide Tour...the slogan "These guys are good" is understated. If you want to do it, do it. Just know that you need to be at least a +6 in order to compete. Mini tours are VERY expensive and with the current economy there is little if any hope of finding sponsors willing to give money away unless your family is the one doing it.

If you do decide to do it I think that to shave 6 strokes off your game would take at least 3 years of solid effort if the talent level is there. The time it take to go from a 10 handicap to a scratch is similar to the time to get each shot off your game from a scratch to a +6. A bigger problem is that all the kids playing now have been playing national level or global level competition since they were 5 years old and giving that up in experience is almost certainly too much to do. Like i said above, I wanted to see if a little maturity would help my game and try Q school again. Maturity did help me out and give me a shot to see how good the play was, and it is good. And that was on the Nationwide level. PGA is exponentially higher. I played with a lot of players over the past year (Harrison Frasar, Robert Gamez, Todd Demsey, Martin Pillar, Tag Ridings to name a few) and I can attest they are AWESOME. And only Harrison has had any real success in the last 5 years or so.

My advice would be to use your college degree and work hard on your game for several years and play in as many am tournaments as you can. If you are dominating, and I mean DOMINATING, those tourneys you can always enter Q school as an am like I did and see what happens. But mini-tour life is brutal and you can't make any money as a scratch golfer even at that level. Sh*t I won twice on 1998 and STILL lost money for the year!

Good luck. Post if there is anything else I can do for you.
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:23 PM   #4
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

hey, great post and thank you......... OP, i'm assuming you have, but if you haven't, read feinstein's tales from q-school. coyne (coyle?) and newport also have books on trying to make the tour, but they're a little goofy as they aren't very great golfers. but those books give an idea as to degrees of separation. also, get into the whole south florida mini-tour culture. guys live 4 to a place down there living the golf dream for awhile

a guy from my city barely made any cuts playing full-time on the canadian tour (a top development tour) this year. then came home near end of year and shot 61, course record by 2, on the #1 course in town. (for completeness sake, he did win on canadian tour the year before) ... or james lepp recent memory ncaa champion has quit competitive golf (he did have some pro success, so his decision was a little surprising) but i think shot 59 twice on a very top course last year......... and i'd concur with the nationwide guy in saying there are now 1000's of these young guys out there.
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:50 PM   #5
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

Everyone thinks they're good at golf, it's like poker.

Your work ethic is what is important, and from what you've told us, you haven't shown any desire in the past to work on your game. What has changed, and how will you be supported to dedicate yourself the way that is necessary?
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Old 01-04-2010, 09:00 PM   #6
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

Thanks so much for the responses, they have been really great, exactly what i was hoping for.

ship----this......i really appreciate you sharing your experiences with us. What u said about the fact that i am not a grinder and that i could essentially burn out or become frustrated at a lack of improvement is something i have thought about a lot and is a bit concerning to me. one thing that i forgot to mention in my OP was that i am pretty much a self taught player having never had a real coach or instructor and really no formal lessons either. I'm not adverse to the idea of having a coach or instructor it was just never something that i could afford growing up. I now have sufficient funds to commit to this type of training.

With that said, has anyone ever had similar experiences with being a self taught player and then seeking out some real coaching? did it help your game improve?

Theres no doubt that coach or no coach a serious practice regiment would have to be adopted along with top level amateur competition.
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Old 01-04-2010, 09:06 PM   #7
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

Woops in my last response i meant to say in response to Max-H but you all knew that.

BeerMoney......I didn't see your post before i made my last one but let me say that i completly agree and was actually kinda thinking the same thing. I think it will actually take quite a big lifestyle change on my part in order to get to any type of professional level.
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Old 01-04-2010, 10:38 PM   #8
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

Quote:
Originally Posted by ship---this View Post
For what it's worth...I played professionally from 1996-2001, winning twice on the Hooters Tour and several times on other mini-tours. I regained my am status and then decided to enter Q school in 2008 as an am. I made it through all stages and had the 30th conditional card last year. That only got me in 6 events. The reason I tell you all of this is while I was an am I had to keep an official handicap and mine was a +5...I made 2 of 6 cuts this year on the Nationwide Tour...the slogan "These guys are good" is understated. If you want to do it, do it. Just know that you need to be at least a +6 in order to compete. Mini tours are VERY expensive and with the current economy there is little if any hope of finding sponsors willing to give money away unless your family is the one doing it.

If you do decide to do it I think that to shave 6 strokes off your game would take at least 3 years of solid effort if the talent level is there. The time it take to go from a 10 handicap to a scratch is similar to the time to get each shot off your game from a scratch to a +6. A bigger problem is that all the kids playing now have been playing national level or global level competition since they were 5 years old and giving that up in experience is almost certainly too much to do. Like i said above, I wanted to see if a little maturity would help my game and try Q school again. Maturity did help me out and give me a shot to see how good the play was, and it is good. And that was on the Nationwide level. PGA is exponentially higher. I played with a lot of players over the past year (Harrison Frasar, Robert Gamez, Todd Demsey, Martin Pillar, Tag Ridings to name a few) and I can attest they are AWESOME. And only Harrison has had any real success in the last 5 years or so.

My advice would be to use your college degree and work hard on your game for several years and play in as many am tournaments as you can. If you are dominating, and I mean DOMINATING, those tourneys you can always enter Q school as an am like I did and see what happens. But mini-tour life is brutal and you can't make any money as a scratch golfer even at that level. Sh*t I won twice on 1998 and STILL lost money for the year!

Good luck. Post if there is anything else I can do for you.
Nice post. What are your plans going forward golf wise? Did you enter Q-school last fall?
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:22 PM   #9
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

I entered and got through 1st stage at Lantana shooting -7 then went to TPC Craig Ranch and shot 71-72-71-71 and missed by a few. When I orginally quit playing in 2001 I started an energy company in Texas. It went well and that is why I was able to work on my game in 2008 merely in an attempt to play well in the US Am and Mid-Am. I got to where I felt I was playing well enough to give Q School a try and thus did. However, given my circumstances of already having been a winner on a respected mini-Tour, finishing 2nd in several Texas am events that summer as well as finishing 3rd in US Mid-Am stroke play that summer, I felt as though a look at Q school as an am made sense. I did not turn pro until after final stage either because I wanted to see how competitive I could be there. I did not want to give up am golf unless I was going to be fully comitted to playing professionally again...after seeing how good the kiddos in 2009 are, I am returning to work again! Damn. Now it will take me forever to get my am status back a second time.

That is the reason I said to OP that if you want to do it do it, that is why I tried one more time. If it is in your blood you have to see what you have. I would just worry that while he might be very talented it might just be a very tough hill to climb due to lack of experience at his age. The Tour over the next few years will be moving to more of a tennis look with the average age moving down I think 5 years or more. The only people beyond the age of 35-37 who will be able to compete with the younger hungrier players will be those who have been staples on Tour for 10 or more years. Thus in my opinion by the time OP has enough game to actually test it at that level he will be late 20's and his career timeline will be fairly short...i.e. invest 6 years of hard expensive work to merely have a look at if he is talented/dedicated/lucky/everything to make it out there.
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:45 PM   #10
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

Also...as I alluded to above. To make a serious go of it you MUST incorporate several things. If my son (if I had a son) were doing this I would put this list down as a gameplan.

1. One thing you must be PERFECT at is being 100% physically fit. Tiger is who he is (an ass yes, but relating to more to golf) because he is the strongest person out there. I don't mean strength in the traditional sense but with regards to stability. His core/hip flexors and all stabilizers for that matter are unreal. He putts the way he does because there is ZERO movement in his body during the stroke.

2. It is assumed you can hit the ball perfectly. The separator is saving par. Not wasting shots is easier than making birdies so don't waste shots with your short game.

3. Sports psychology is everything. Last year I rolled through all 4 stages of Q school (I had to do the pre-Q so I had 4 total stages). The reason I did so easily was I had just gotten married, have plenty of money, and didn't care if I made it or not because it was just for "fun." This year I started over-trying and putting pressure on myself to figure it out in 1 year and be on Tour in 2010. It doesn't happen overnight and solid sports psychology applied correctly can help with the inevitable issues that will arise for you.

4. Hit it a f$%cking mile. I hit it far. My average this year was 300.2 yards which would have put me at 19th in distance had I played enough rounds for my stats to rank. But you have to keep in mind those stats aren't necessarily the driver. I hit the driver probably 330 every time, everyone hits the driver over 300 very consistently. The stats are misleading because there are so many 3 woods that are counted on the stats holes. They only measure 2 holes per round, one into the wind and one down wind. For example, in the BMW this year I hit 3 iron off one of those tees and 3 wood off the other. Point being...EVERYONE bombs it. And if you can't, you can't compete...not anymore.

5. Sadly, you can't drink or party. If you waste anytime being hung over or skipping a work out or don't have your mind right all the time you are wasting your time. This should prove to be tough for a 22 year old, I know I screwed this one up first time around. But think about it, the world plays golf now and wants to play it on the PGA Tour. You have to be one of the 125 best in the world at your craft simply to not lose your job. That sucks.

6. Hit it really far. And don't ever miss a putt.

I am in Dallas and really believe in my swing coach if you are near Dallas and want a good starting point, he is great....my name is Scott Fawcett for those curious.

Last edited by ship---this; 01-04-2010 at 11:53 PM.
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Old 01-05-2010, 12:08 AM   #11
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

hey scott, great post. thank you very much.... i didn't realize tiger's putting would relate heavily to his fitness. not sure what book i read recently, but an expert did say men's far superior short game to women is due to strength.

sounded like you were keeping up to the kids in distance pretty well.... i do agree that men's golf may go more and more like men's tennis. not nearly to the same degree though as quickness is so huge is tennis.

didn't realize the partying cuts into scores so much, but it makes sense.

how many guys on nationwide make decent living? i presume a reasonable number have a decent sponsorship deal. maybe not though
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Old 01-05-2010, 12:30 AM   #12
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

Awesome thread so far...
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Old 01-05-2010, 12:30 AM   #13
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

Your chances: .00001%.
Which means, as Lloyd said in dumb and dumber, there is a chance.
I have played competitive golf with so many people that tried and failed.
The one that made it was Brandt Jobe. He had an aura around him that I can't explain. He also didn't party like the others I knew. But he put in his knocks in Japan.

Another friend didn't play in college and tried (the only non-college player I know who tried to become pro.) He played the South American tour, but his heart wasn't in it. He went to a sports psych and he was told that it was just like going to medical school. Expect to grind for 6 years. But unlike medical school, there is no guarantee. And he didn't want to gamble.

What has not been mentioned is being able to adjust to the lifestyle of being a pro. It is like the circus from city to city. It can be lonely and just dealing with that is too stressful for some. There is no stability and real relationships can be tough.

Good luck
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Old 01-05-2010, 12:41 AM   #14
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

How's butcho22 coming along in his quest?

I would say that it isn't an all or nothing result, because if you fail you'll get two things (that i can see.. there may be more..) You'll have a great golf game, which will be with you for the rest of your life, and you'll find a lot out about yourself.
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Old 01-05-2010, 12:49 AM   #15
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

Man, Scott really killed my golf buzz tonight I had dreams!!!
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Old 01-05-2010, 12:51 AM   #16
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

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I would say that it isn't an all or nothing result, because if you fail you'll get two things (that i can see.. there may be more..) You'll have a great golf game, which will be with you for the rest of your life, and you'll find a lot out about yourself.
One more very important thing...knowing that you gave it your best and you simply weren't good enough. The feeling of never knowing could haunt you for the rest of your life.
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Old 01-05-2010, 01:03 AM   #17
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

all the responses have been great so far, especially scotts, thanks so much

Given that i just finished college and am in a situation where i have living expenses, be them cheap(for california), covered for the next 2-2.5 years im thinking about dedicating myself to improving my game. im going to try and play/practice 5-6 days a week (coyote creek in san jose, ca. awesome cheap membership deal) and also adopt a serious fitness/workout/diet regiment. I also plan on playing tons of local(NCGA) amateur events. My first of the year will be SF city.

i no its going to be tough but i dedicated myself to school/work for the last 5 years and have been very successful in both (4.0GPA /made enough in various jobs to have living expenses covered for the next few years or so) so i no i have the work ethic.

Basically i just wanna see if i have any chance now that i am in position to 100% dedicate myself to my game.
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Old 01-05-2010, 01:39 AM   #18
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

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How's butcho22 coming along in his quest?

I would say that it isn't an all or nothing result, because if you fail you'll get two things (that i can see.. there may be more..) You'll have a great golf game, which will be with you for the rest of your life, and you'll find a lot out about yourself.
It isn't all or nothing, but most are signficantly behind the corporate curve when they stop chasing and will never get on the track. Most end of getting assistant golf pro jobs making very little.

It ain't for the faint of heart.
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Old 01-05-2010, 02:38 AM   #19
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

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Man, Scott really killed my golf buzz tonight I had dreams!!!
It's killing my golf dream buzz, but it's also making me feel a LOT BETTER about not giving it a real shot. I'm 5'5" and hit it around 280-285 when my swing doesn't suck ass. I stripe my long irons better than a lot of people I know, and I feel that I putt well enough to play with the mini-tour pros. I'll never hit it long enough to compete, and I'll never have the nerves to compete. Always underestimated is the fact that the guys out there competing have, like Scott said, been playing since they were five. They don't even know what nerves are anymore. They play to win and EXPECT to win. It's no longer a sigh of relief after the final putt is made...it's an "it's about ****ing time I have this trophy in my case" feeling now. Even playing in US Open qualifiers with the "just try to make it to the round two sectionals" mentality, my knees are shakin' the whole round. If only I could take that pressure and apply it properly to my entire game instead of just how well I putt when it counts...but alas...

I turn 30 this year. The pipe dream that I never dared to follow is pretty much over, and reading this thread has made me feel a million times better about it. Thank you Scott Fawcett.


Signed,


a washed up club pro that got out of the business and got his am status back a few years ago
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Old 01-05-2010, 10:18 AM   #20
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

smbruin...understand your thought on quickness, but quickness is what makes the ball go far so while it might seem different than tennins speed and youth is still very relevant.

The Nationwide is a great place to play and make a living. My endorsement with Titleist and a shirt logo deal almost covered my expenses for the week so whatever I made was gravy. I think that is true for most any player with decent status out there. If I had gotten through 2nd stage I would have continued on as you can exist on the Nationwide and not feel like you are completely giving away $ on an opportunity cost basis. As I said I own an energy company and have other options, most guys out there hang on for YEARS after they know they should quit but everyone feels the lottery could come next year.

As golfnutt points out it isn't as sexy as it sounds. I got married in Oct '08 and the plan was for me and the wife to travel the country (if I made it through Q school as the wedding was the week before 1st stage started) and have some fun. 6 weeks into married life we got pregnant. Who knew it could happen first month trying! So there went my travel companion and I can attest that traveling around sucked by myself. I had a ton of friends out there from my first go-around and it was still brutal. Now that our baby is 4 months old I really can't imagine traveling without her...but also can't imagine traveling with her and being competitive, tough spot. That is why I feel those over 35 have to be either truly that good which is something you would already know or that selfish to just go do work and not care about your family as much. If you have been on Tour and are over 35 you are probably rich so unless you are one of the best and truly driven to be the best where is your motivation? I know that has been Frazar's problem for a few years. He can't spend all the money he has but can't seem to get to the winner's circle so he is just grinding out a living. A good living, but it is a grind none the less.

I can say without question though BeerMoney makes a good point in that at least you will have a good golf game. My game is what enabled me to be a quick study at sales which is why my energy company went so well. The problem on the other hand is that when you quit you will never be as good as you were and that sucks. My handicap right now is probably +7 and it is just going to be a battle to stay remotely decent to where the game isn't completely frustrating. I am actually considering playing left handed just so the learning curve could start over and the prospect of getting better instead of just slowly getting worse could be exciting again.
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Old 01-05-2010, 10:25 AM   #21
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

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One more very important thing...knowing that you gave it your best and you simply weren't good enough. The feeling of never knowing could haunt you for the rest of your life.
This is the reason I did it one more time. I wanted to try, could try, did try. I know in my heart that if I had more maturity at a younger age (mainly temper control) I could have done it. I now know the time has passed and am at peace with the result.

But damn, making tons of cash and playing the Tour would be SWEET!!!
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Old 01-05-2010, 10:34 AM   #22
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

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Given that i just finished college and am in a situation where i have living expenses, be them cheap(for california), covered for the next 2-2.5 years im thinking about dedicating myself to improving my game. im going to try and play/practice 5-6 days a week (coyote creek in san jose, ca. awesome cheap membership deal) and also adopt a serious fitness/workout/diet regiment. I also plan on playing tons of local(NCGA) amateur events. My first of the year will be SF city.

i no its going to be tough but i dedicated myself to school/work for the last 5 years and have been very successful in both (4.0GPA /made enough in various jobs to have living expenses covered for the next few years or so) so i no i have the work ethic.

Basically i just wanna see if i have any chance now that i am in position to 100% dedicate myself to my game.
I would say knock yourself out but you just have to be very realistic in order to not keep grinding at it for 5 years if the results aren't there. It is easy to say at the end of a round "if I had just made a couple more putts today" then the next day "man I putted good but just didn't chip it well"...getting to a +7 takes virtual perfection daily. Similar to poker you have to have your A game all the time if you want to play at the highest levels...actually that is a good analogy, a scratch golfer would be the equivalent to maybe like a solid 2-4 NL player, and that player wants to compete with Ivey and durrr. Possible with a ton of work, but they are ready for you and ready to run your ass over!
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Old 01-05-2010, 12:30 PM   #23
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

KD1987 and Ship---this,
Welcome to 2+2 and the golf forum.

The advice in this thread has been spot on.
A couple of things I'll add:
Another advantage to remaining an amateur as opposed to playing minis is that you'll likely play much better courses in top am events as opposed to professional minis.
Learning to shoot low on difficult courses in tournament conditions is different than shooting low scores on your average course under normal conditions.
Many minis are played on the cheapest course in town, and isn't great training for tour courses.
Also,
you run the risk of turning a game that you love into a job that you hate.
As has been stated,
travelling and competing every week can be a grind. It can beat you down emotionally and physically.
If I were you, I would remain an amateur and play in as many things (on good courses) as I could, and maybe play in a mini or two as an amateur.
See how you like it, see how you do.

Best of luck.
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Old 01-05-2010, 12:36 PM   #24
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

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.... winning twice on the Hooters Tour.... I regained my am status and then decided to enter Q school in 2008 as an am. I made it through all stages and had the 30th conditional card last year.

Congrats on making it to the finals!
And winning on the Hooters is tough! I was about 0 for 100 or so.
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Old 01-05-2010, 12:42 PM   #25
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Re: Becoming A Professional Golfer

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KD1987 and Ship---this,
Welcome to 2+2 and the golf forum.
Thanks...been a 2+2er as a reader for a long time but never felt I should make any poker comments...however this thread seemed right up my alley.

The point you make about quality of courses in elite am tourneys is dead on also. That was why I entered Q school as an am in '08. I was planning on playing full time in '09 regardless of how the first run at Q school went. I just wanted to be able to play the big am events on the best courses instead of grinding away on the Gateway Tour. If you can win or compete consistently in the Porter Cup, Western Am, and USGA events you can make a stab at the next level. That was the gameplan had I not got status for '09.
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