The Toughest Test

2010 U.S. Open ChampionshipThis time of year many talented amateur and professional golfers around the world are about to face up to their toughest test.  In order to have some guarantee of competing in tournaments on a consistent basis, they will need to earn the right to play on their preferred Tour.

The best known professional Tours are the PGA Tour (US) and European Tour for men and the LPGA Tour (US) and Ladies European Tour for women.  There are many other Tours around the world including those in Australasia, Asia, Japan, Korea, Canada, South America, South Africa and other regions.

To earn the right to play on one of those Tours for a year (at least) a player will have to compete in a Qualifying School.  These are typically multi-stage events where you compete against other hopefuls for a select few ‘cards’, which allow you access to events on that Tour for a season.

Typically the percentage of players who earn cards on different tours is quite low.  Usually 1.5% of entrants to the PGA Tour Q School and 4% of entrants to the LPGA Q School will emerge successfully.  That is a very small number.  The percentages are higher for smaller, less lucrative Tours, but they are always single figure percentages for those who do gain a card.

If you are considering competing as a professional, then you should decide on the criteria to determine your readiness. I would use some of the following.
Ranking – if your world ranking has been in the top 50 for at least a year.
Winning – you have won nationally ranked events on multiple occasions.
Age – if you are female you are at least 19 years old.  If you are male, you are at least 22 years old.  This might seem too late for some, however it takes a few years longer than that to mature mentally and emotionally.

If you are considering a professional career and want to start next year, what is your criteria for readiness?

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