From Wine Making To Horse Farming... These 11 Former Professional Golfers Have Found Success Away From The Fairways

When former professional golfers leave the game, what do they do next? These ex-pros have found success away from the course in very different areas...

Former Golfer Career Change
Finding Success Away From The Fairways
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There is a distinction between golf and many other professional sports, in that players are able to enjoy very long careers. Not all golfers battle away indefinitely however, with some choosing an alternative path and going on to make successful careers away from the course. 

Here, we check in on 11 former players that did exactly that...

Smylie Kaufman –  Analyst and Reporter

Smylie Kaufman

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Age: 32 Turned pro: 2014 Highest world ranking: 48 Achievements: 1 PGA Tour wins; 1 Korn Ferry Tour win.

The story: Smylie Kaufman earned his PGA Tour card as a result of winning the 2016 United Leasing Championship. He followed up a year later with his first PGA Tour win at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Injuries cut his playing career short, with his final PGA Tour start coming in June 2022. Kaufman then made the move into television, as an on-course reporter for NBC Sports, and hosts his own podcast 'The Smylie Show'.

David Lynn – Property Tycoon

David Lynn

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Age: 50 Turned pro: 1995 Highest world ranking: 34 Achievements: Two-time European Tour winner and runner-up at the 2012 USPGA Championship 

The story: Two years after picking up a cheque for €750,000 for his second place finish to Rory McIlroy in the 2012 USPGA Championship, Englishman David Lynn retired. He now owns numerous properties, but hasn't given up on the idea of playing on the Senior Tour one day.

Pierre Fulke – Golf Course Architect

Pierre Fulke

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Age: 52 Turned pro: 1989 Highest world ranking: 26 Achievements: 3 European Tour victories; 2002 Ryder Cup winner. 

The story: The Swede enjoyed success on the European Tour around the turn of the century and qualified for the 2002 Ryder Cup, earning a singles half against Davis Love III at The Belfry. He retired from professional golf in 2007, and moved into golf course design. To date, Falke has designed or redesigned a series of golf courses across Scandinavia, including the highly-rated Visby Golf Club in Sweden.

Jean Van De Velde – UNICEF Ambassador

Jean Van De Velde

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Age: 57 Turned pro: 1987 Highest world ranking: 71 Achievements: 1999 Open runner-up. 

The story: The Frenchman, famed for his meltdown at Carnoustie, played his last European Tour event in 2011. Since 2019, he has hosted the WCM Legends Open de France, but largely appears to have put down his competitive clubs. He has previously taken on some off-course roles, as a commentator and pundit, as well as teaching in Punta Mina, Mexico. 

In 2012, Van De Velde was named as an ambassador for UNICEF France, becoming only the second French sportsman, after former footballer Lilian Thuram, to take such a position.

Gordon Sherry – Management And Consultancy

Gordon Sherry

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Age: 49 Turned pro: 1996 Highest world ranking: Never made the top 100 Achievements: 1995 Amateur Champion; 1995 Walker Cup winner; played in The Open at St Andrews in 1995 and The Masters in 1996. 

The story: Although no longer playing competitively, 6ft 8in Sherry’s life remains in golf. He manages various players, including former Open and Masters Champion Sandy Lyle, and is an accomplished after-dinner speaker. Sherry is also CEO of the Links Group and is a fully qualified PGA Professional.

Greg Norman – Businessman and Philanthropist

Greg Norman

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Age: 68 Turned pro: 1976 Highest world ranking: 1 Achievements: 88 professional tournament wins, including two Majors. 

The story: You could argue no other former pro has diversified as much as Greg Norman. In 2021, he was named CEO of LIV Golf Investments, overseeing the launch of LIV Golf tournaments a year later. He is also the Chairman and CEO of Great White Shark Enterprises, a company that encompasses course design, clothing, wine making, property, restaurants, wake-boarding complexes and even prime Wagyu steaks!

Jodie Mudd – Horse Farmer

Jodie Mudd

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Age: 63 Turned pro: 1982 Highest world ranking: 23 Achievements: 4 PGA Tour victories, including the 1990 Players Championship; tied for 4th in the 1990 Open Championship; shot 63 in the final round of the 1991 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. 

The story: Mudd played his last PGA Tour event in 1996, at the age of just 36. A Kentucky native, he walked away from the game to buy a horse farm where he bred and trained thoroughbred horses. Mudd briefly returned to competitive action  in 2010, playing four events on the Champions Tour, with a best finish of tied 20th at the Regions Charity Classic. 

Nick Dougherty – Commentator and Presenter

Nick Dougherty Sky Sports

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Age: 41 Turned pro: 2001 Highest world ranking: 46 Achievements: 3 European Tour wins, including the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2007. 

The story: The transition of Nick Dougherty from professional golfer to TV pundit and commentator is one of great success, as he has quickly become an iconic figure. After developing a debilitating block off the tee, the Englishman lost his card in 2011 and struggled to re-find his form. He last played on the European Tour at the 2016 Dunhill Links. Dougherty now works for Sky Sports, and is one of its leading commentators, interviewers and experts.

Michael Campbell - Golf Academy

Michael Campbell

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Age: 54 Turned pro: 1993 Highest world ranking: 12 Achievements: 2005 US Open champion; 15 professional victories including eight on the European Tour. 

The story: The New Zealander, and former US Open Champion, retired from professional golf in 2015. He now runs a golf academy at Villa Padierna, near Puerto Banus, in Spain, where he hosts coaching days and even week-long coaching trips. 

Upon turning 50 in February 2019, Campbell went on to play a small number of events on the Champions Tour. Incredibly, he also shot a 59 in the lead up to the Senior Open at Kilspindie.

David Frost - Winemaker

David Frost

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Age: 64 Turned pro: 1981 Highest world ranking: 86 weeks in top ten Achievements: 29 professional wins; seven top-ten Major finishes. 

The story: Frost still plays senior golf, but is also a successful winemaker. While many players have given their name to a wine, Frost comes from a winemaking family. In 1997, he purchased a 300-acre vineyard in South Africa’s Paarl region and produced his first 3000 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon in the same year. Frost also supports the Raymond Ackerman Golf Academy, which aims to support young people with education and golf.

Peter Lawrie - Director of Golf

Peter Lawrie

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Age: 49 Turned pro: 1997 Highest world ranking: 105 Achievements: 2008 Spanish Open winner; 2nd four times on tour. 

The story: After 13 full seasons on the European Tour, Lawrie decided to hang up his spikes at the end of 2016. Later that year, he took the post as director of golf at Luttrellstown Castle Resort, just 10km from the centre of Dublin. Since 2019, he has held the position of Director of Golf at Fairways and Fundays Limited.

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