Golf is unique amongst sports. Unlike hard-hitting sports like soccer, or hockey, pro golfers can be in their prime well into their fifties. The average age of a PGA player as it stands is 35. Compare this to soccer, and the age differences are staggering. Soccer players start in their teens and often need to retire by the time they are 35.
Though, of course, starting to train yourself in golf and refining your skill is best to do early on in your life, you shouldn’t assume that you cannot become a pro golfer if you are already an adult. Unlike other sports that are more energy-intensive, golf is about skill and precision.
Contact sports like football have an average age of 26, which is on par with soccer players in their prime. They start young and burn you out fast, which gives professionals in those sports a countdown.
Golf is more lax in this sense. You can take longer to build up your skillset and enjoy the prime of your career for far longer. All you need is to get started by following this guide.
1. Find an Exceptional Golf Coach
It doesn’t matter if you have been golfing for years, or you are just trying it out for the first time. If you want to get good at the sport, then you need to learn from the best. There is no in-between. Starting early, of course, is preferable as it means you don’t learn bad habits that you then have to train yourself out of later.
Typically speaking, those in their pre-teens and teens should start to look for a professional golf coach or golf lessons to perfect their game.
2. Find an Exceptional Career Coach
If you are serious about becoming a pro golfer, then there is no time to waste. Though you can get into the game later on in life, the best avenue is to take your skills onward to the college level. Building up your reputation is a hard but essential step towards taking your talents to the pro level. Playing at the college level can help you do this, and done right, it can also help you save big with the possibility of college golf scholarships on offer.
Your career coach will help you design a game plan, figure out your eligibility and what you need to be accepted to your top colleges (both in terms of golfing and academics) and then work on marketing you. They will work to help you get scouted by universities and help secure scholarships for you. If you need a visa to study in the US, then they can handle that.
They can help you succeed in your career through college and beyond if necessary. For emerging golfing talents, it is one of the best ways to kickstart your career.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice makes perfect, but you don’t want to run the risk of over perfecting one skill and allowing weakness to fester elsewhere.
- Your Individual Skills
You need to be exceptional in several skills.
- Full Swing
- Approach Wedge
Aim to spend an equal amount of time on each skill, and then rely on your golfing coach (not your career coach) to help you improve the skills you have trouble with. A good average to get used to is 20 hours of practice a week. To make this feasible, joining your local golf club is recommended.
- Against Others
Getting better than you were yesterday is one thing. Pitting your skills against another player is another. By finding a golfing partner or several other people who are also hoping to become professional golf players, you can all help each other become the best of the best. Competition is excellent for improving skills and get you in the head of the game.
4. Attend Tournaments
Practice and friendly competition is a great way to develop your skills, but if you want to get the attention of scouts and sponsors, you are going to need to compete. You can start this even as a teenager. Your golf club will likely host golf tournaments that you can apply to.
Use every small success as a stepping stone to the next. Your career coach will help direct your efforts if you are ever confused about what to do next.
Note: Tournaments are important before, during, and after college. By starting as early as you can, you can build your reputation and be eligible to play in bigger tournaments by the time you graduate.
Some tournaments you will want to look into include:
- USGA Amateur Championship
- USGA Amateur Public Links Championship
As you grow in your career, you can then look to competing in world-renowned tournaments like:
- Moonlight Golf Tour
- NGA Pro Golf Tour
5. Going Pro
There is no time frame when you must go pro. You can go pro during college or afterward. Technically speaking, if you want to do well both academically and in golf, you will need to wait until after you graduate to start focusing your efforts on the PGA Tour since you will want to give the tournament your full attention.
- The PGA Tour Qualifiers
When you are ready, you will want to work your way up to the PGA league. To do this, you will need to compete in the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament. This tournament is played in four stages. Only 25 players will go on to be eligible to qualify for the Web.com Tour. It is a very difficult tournament, so don’t be put off if you don’t make it to the finals and beyond the first time you try it.
- PGA Tour Card
To become a true pro, you are going to then need to compete and win three events hosted by Web.com or by finishing in the top 25 during an entire season of Web.com. This takes time and is very hard to do. Once you have succeeded, however, you will earn your PGA tour card and will be able to call yourself a professional golfer. Many top tournaments only allow those with PGA tour cards to compete, so this qualifier is a must.