We all want to be the best at what we do. When we find something that we truly love and are wholeheartedly passionate about, it is human nature to want to give it our all and become truly unbeatable at it. However, there’s a reason being at the top comes with a lot of praise and recognition: it is a very difficult task.
Golf has grown to become a very competitive sport, amongst men and women alike. While it is a mere pastime for some of us, a lot of people have the desire to play it professionally and compete in tournaments. Unfortunately, there isn’t really a handbook or a guide on how to achieve that. That’s why, we decided to have a chat with Caddyboo Ambassador Hannah Bowen in order to get some insight from her on how difficult (or easy) it is to go pro, based on her own virtual experience. Here is some of the most valuable advice she shared with us:
1. There Are Different Routes to “Professional Golf”
There is no single clearly-paved road to becoming a professional golfer, but rather, three different ways you can do it. Firstly, one can undertake the PGA Professional degree.
“To qualify you need a handicap of 6 or under and have to do a playability test,” explains Hannah. “Once you qualify, you have to sign a contract with a golf club and work 30 hours a week, while also playing in 21 tournaments and having to achieve certain scores in these events. You also complete exams and do assignments based on these different areas of the golf industry to get you qualified to work as the heart of the golf club.”
A second option could be applying for LETAS Tour membership. While this route is easier than the first, there still are some prerequisites that must be satisfied, as Hannah let us know. “I believe that, to qualify, a player has to have a handicap of 2 or below and the scores to prove it.” Were a player to then prove their skill, they could receive a LET card.
The third (and arguably the fastest) route that one can take is to apply for Tour School. In order to accomplish this, a player must pass a pre qualifying stage, as well as the final one. The final stage involves 3 rounds of golf, from which 50 applicants are chosen. In the end, a total of 72 holes are played, and each player receives a certain score based on their LET Tour card.
2. Finding Sponsors Is a Difficult - But Doable - Challenge
There are several challenges that come with being a professional golfer - namely the long working hours and the occasional homesickness among other things. However, there is one step that is notoriously more difficult: finding a sponsor.
As Hannah describes, “Big sponsorship deals are hard to come by, especially in the female game. Golf equipment companies are not huge on helping golf professionals who are trying to make it on tour.”
Nevertheless, she reiterates that your passion for the game shouldn’t stop you from trying. “When you pay to enter a tournament, you have to go there with no worries that you aren’t going to get that money back, and that you are willing to spend it and lose it for the love of the game. If sponsors know that you will try your best and that you are grateful for any opportunity you give them (and if they play golf too) then they should understand that backing a player has no guarantees. It’s like betting on a horse.”
3. Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail
The world of professional golf is very unpredictable. Not a single day mirrors the one before, and one should keep that in mind at all times. That’s why, the best form of mental preparation is to not have any expectations, and to not be frustrated regardless of the outcome of a game. That being said, it’s also not a bad idea to be prepared. So, how does Hannah do it?
“Before a tournament, I research the yardage of a course and print off a course planner. I do this to work out my yardages and look at the different shot shapes I need and clubs I may use at that tournament. I practice using those clubs and perform those shots even when I can’t be at that course for practice.”
Knowing your green is key in knowing your game.
4. Personal Life Should Never Take Away from a Person’s Skill
When a golfer tries to make it to the top, the limelight might get too intimidating - especially when they’re all the way at the top. While a golfer’s reputation is important, it should never get to the point where there is a trade-off with skill.
“Companies who offer sponsorships sell products that promise skill, so having skilled players is a must.” explains Hannah. “The relationship you build with the sponsor is the most important thing, making sure there is a huge form of trust is major. In the same way a player may gain a poor reputation so can a company.”
5. There Is No Magic Formula to Be Able to Play
Of course, practicing and investing in your game is going to help it improve, but as Hannah put it: “What is great about this game is that it's anybody's game!”
Even the most skilled players may struggle in getting to the top. “Justin Rose missed 21 cuts after starting his professional career and look at what he has achieved in the golf industry now.”
The best way one can succeed is to keep in mind that it is an uphill battle for a reason: there always are a few slips along the road. That’s why, having no mindmap for how something is going to pan out is the way to go. Always keep in mind: the best view comes after the hardest climb!