How To Become A PGA Tour Pro
There are various different ways to earn a PGA Tour card as we explain...
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Becoming a PGA Tour pro is a dream all young golfers have when starting out and aside from being very, very good at golf - take a look at our scratch handicap vs PGA Tour pro comparison for proof - the question is, how do you become one?
In ultra-simplistic terms, to officially become a PGA Tour pro you need to earn your PGA Tour card. So how is that done?
There are various different ways, with the world's best players earning theirs from a number of different routes.
Scottie Scheffler, for example, earned his PGA Tour card via the Korn Ferry Tour, while Jon Rahm earned his from capitalising on sponsors exemptions. Danny Willett earned his PGA Tour card after winning the 2017 Masters, while Corey Conners earned his after Monday qualifying and going on to win the Valero Texas Open.
Rahm turned pro in 2016, gained a sponsors exemption into the Quicken Loans National, finished T3rd to qualify for The Open before getting into the RBC Canadian Open too. He finished T2nd there to secure Special Temporary Member status on the PGA Tour and earned enough points in the remaining events in the season to secure his PGA Tour card for 2017.
Tom Kim was also given a Special Temporary Membership in 2022. The Korean star went on to win the Wyndham Championship to earn a two-year exemption and then another year was added on after his Shriners open win.
Earning enough points simply means accruing enough FedEx Cup points to sit inside the top 125 on the FedEx Cup standings at the end of the regular season. All 125 are guaranteed to earn cards for the next season and go on to the Playoffs. Those who finish just outside of the top 125 will tend to earn a certain number of starts on the PGA Tour for next season, where good finishes will give them the chance to qualify for more tournaments and get into the fabled 125.
Collin Morikawa's route to earning a PGA Tour card was similar to Rahm's. As an elite amateur, he had sponsors exemptions when turning professional and managed to capitalise on them to make it to the big league.
A new way to earn a PGA Tour card is via the DP World Tour. Thanks to the new strategic alliance between the two tours, the top ten finishers (without cards already) on the Race to Dubai will all earn PGA Tour status.
The DP World Tour and Korn Ferry Tour are the main two feeders for the PGA Tour, with ten coming from the DP World Tour each year and a total of 30 cards handed out on the Korn Ferry Tour. Three wins in a single Korn Ferry Tour season also earns a 'battlefield' automatic promotion to the main tour.
There are routes to the Korn Ferry Tour via the other tours that the PGA Tour runs including its circuits in Canada and Latin America.
The top five finishers (and ties) at the Final Stage of 2023 Q-School will earn PGA Tour cards for 2024, while the number one player in the final PGA Tour University Velocity Global Ranking also earns a PGA Tour card.
Another way to earn your PGA Tour card is to win a PGA Tour event. To tee it up in a PGA Tour event without a PGA Tour card you need a sponsor's exemption or to earn a spot via one of the tournament's Monday qualifiers.
A victory on the PGA Tour secures your card for at least two years. Some of the elevated events offer three-year exemptions with wins, while Major victories earn five-year exemptions.
Below we summarise the most common ways of earning a PGA Tour card:
- Earn one of the 30 cards given out to the Korn Ferry Tour top finishers.
- Earn one of the 10 cards given out to the DP World Tour top finishers.
- Finish in the top five of Final Stage Q-School.
- Rank number one at the end of the PGA Tour University Velocity Global Ranking.
- Win a PGA Tour event.
- Earn a sponsor's exemption and win enough points to earn your card.
- Win a Major.
Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-6. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!
Elliott is currently playing:
Driver: Titleist TSR4
3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max
Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max
Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW
Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58
Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
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