For many avid golfers, the opportunity to take to the course beside the legends of the sport and earn money playing the game is the ultimate dream. If you're one of them, you may wonder about how to become a professional golfer and have questions like "How do you qualify for PGA Tour events?" In this guide, we'll provide the answers. We'll explain how to get a PGA Tour card and qualify for tournaments and explore other considerations that you'll need to keep in mind as you pursue a pro career.
Understanding PGA Events
Before you can delve into how to get into PGA Tour events, you need to know a little bit about the types of events that the league hosts. There are three kinds of PGA events:
- Major Championships: The four most famous and competitive events on the PGA Tour schedule, including the Masters, the U.S. Open, the Open and the PGA Championship
- Regular tour events: Lesser-known tournaments take place on the weekends throughout the PGA season
- Invitationals: Smaller, invitation-only tournaments that players participate in by receiving an invite that is sent to local golfers in areas where these events are held
Although their levels of prestige vary, all PGA Tour events provide an opportunity for golfers to gain exposure and recognition and can be important steps in building a professional golf career. Cash awards are included to provide golfers with income.
How to Join the PGA Tour: Eligibility Requirements
So how many PGA Tour players are there? The number actually varies from year to year. In 2023, 215 golfers competed in PGA events based on the final FedEx Cup rankings.
To be eligible to play in PGA events, you need to meet three requirements. Let's take a look at each one.
Hold a PGA Tour Card
Holding a PGA Tour Card makes players eligible to participate in some PGA events. However, which events a cardholder qualifies for varies based on performance. To get a card, you need to fulfill one of a few PGA Tour card requirements:
- Korn Ferry Tour Points: Each year 30 PGA Tour cards are awarded to players who perform well in the Korn Ferry Tour season.
- Korn Ferry Tour Three-Win Promotion: Any player who wins three Korn Ferry Tour events automatically receives a card.
- PGA Tour U: Top-performing college-level golfers can earn PGA Tour cards through the PGA's Tour U program.
- Winning a PGA Tour Event: Anyone who wins a PGA Tour event or Majors receives a card that is valid for two years.
In some cases, non-members can participate in PGA events. To do so, they must earn a PGA Tour Special Temporary Membership. We'll discuss the ways through which golfers can obtain one in our section devoted to qualifying routes.
An amateur golfer is one who plays golf for recreational purposes rather than as a career. To become a member of the PGA, a player must give up their amateur status and turn pro. There are four key ways to help in doing so:
- Accepting prize money
- Playing in a professional tournament
- Accepting payment for giving golf instruction
- Becoming employed as a golf pro or joining an association of professional golfers
Meet Age Requirements
The minimum age for PGA players is 18. However, younger players can participate in the PGA Jr. League, an amateur league that holds events around the U.S.
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How Do You Qualify for the PGA Tour Events?
Now let's dig into the ways that a golfer can qualify for PGA events. There are a few different routes, including all of the following.
As previously mentioned, the Korn Ferry Tour can be a stepping stone for the PGA with top performers and those who win three events in one season gaining PGA Tour Cards. Golfers can also qualify for events by earning Official World Golf Ranking points by participating in WGR events.
Sponsorships and Exemptions
As previously mentioned, players can receive special memberships to play in PGA events. One way to obtain one is by getting a sponsorship from an eligible brand or company. Winners of previous PGA Tour events also receive exemptions that allow them to hold cards for two years.
Some PGA Tour events include Monday Qualifiers, early competitions that allow winners to participate in an upcoming tournament. To participate in a qualifying round, you need to register and pay a fee.
Another way to qualify for the PGA is to attend Q-School, a four-stage process:
- Pre-Qualifying: 54-hole stroke play competition that takes place at a number of sites
- First Stage: 72-hole stroke play competition that takes place at a number of sites
- Second stage: 72-hole stroke play competition that takes place at a number of sites
- Final Stage: 72-hole stroke play competition held at a single site
The top golfers in the final stage receive PGA TOUR cards, and all golfers who make it to the final event become eligible to play in Korn Ferry events.
Becoming a PGA golfer requires more than just eligibility. You'll also need to:
Develop golf skills: To play with the best, you'll have to refine your skills and train hard.
Hire a coach: Having a professional coach is vital to success in the PGA.
Participate in events: You'll need to get experience playing in amateur and/or college tournaments.
- Network: Building relationships with other golfers can open the doors to sponsorships and other opportunities.
- Manage your finances: Few players turn pro and then immediately win a huge cash prize at a PGA event. You'll need to have a source of income to support yourself while you get your career off the ground.
- Be persistent: Making your dream a reality will require emotional resilience and determination, as you'll likely have setbacks and failures along the way.
Pursue Your Golf Passion
Becoming a professional golfer is a long road, but every big PGA star was once a beginner, too. If you're passionate about golf and willing to put in the work, the dream can become a reality for you as well. As you progress along your journey, Devereux’s golf apparel and accessories can help you look and feel like a pro. Shop our new arrivals to find the latest gear for tournaments, weekend rounds and even trips to your local putt-putt course.