Instructor showing how to start a career in golf

Figuring out how to start a career in golf can be tricky but compelling. If you are a fan of golf, you have probably thought about how exciting it would be to play the game professionally — but there are numerous other career tracks too. While it takes a huge amount of work, dedication, and drive to succeed in golf, the sport offers a chance to live your dream. 

Given the variety of options, we will look at how to make it as a golfer but also how to succeed generally in the sport. Then we will cover salary expectations and the importance of networking.

Starting A Career In Golf If You Want To Play Professionally

While there are many occupations available in golf, everyone wants to play. Here is how to start a career in golf if you want to become a professional golfer:

Step 1. Start as early as you can. But don’t give up if you start late.

Huge stars such as Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, and Tiger Woods started playing golf as toddlers. Certainly, playing throughout childhood is helpful in developing skills. However, there are notable exceptions: Larry Nelson started playing at 21, and Y.E. Yang at 19. 

Step 2. Get golf lessons.

Regardless of when you start, it can always help to refine your skills through lessons. Getting feedback from your instructor can be invaluable in tweaking your approach. Get a golf instructor through your local course, or ask people you know for recommendations.

Step 3. Practice everything. 

Don’t just go out and play but practice — and practice everything. Driving practice helps, but you also need to putt and otherwise work your short game. You will win more prize money and show more consistent performance if you are particularly effective within 100 yards of the hole, per PGA statistics.

Step 4. Join a golf club.

You can connect with other local golfers through a golf club. Plus, the club may have a tournament program that gives you a chance to start proving yourself in your city and region.

Step 5. Sharpen your competitive edge in college.

You can vie against top players through amateur tournaments in your area and around the country. The North/South Amateur Golf Championship, the USGA Amateur Public Links Championship, and the USGA Amateur Championship are key contests to consider.

Step 6. Go to “Q-School” – the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament.

If you want to be a professional golfer, you must compete for a prized spot on the PGA Tour. “Q-School” is an intensive four-stage tournament that can qualify you for the Nationwide Tour, as well as the PGA Tour. The former is extremely competitive and is a feeder to the PGA Tour.

Step 7. Start entering pro tournaments.

It can be tricky to block out time and fund your initial tournaments but play in as many as you can. At these events, you will meet other golfers and preliminarily develop sponsorship relationships. The NGA Pro Golf Tour, Moonlight Tour, and eGolf Professional Tour are a few popular ones. 

Step 8. Get your PGA Tour card.

You can earn a PGA Tour card in three different ways once you have completed Q School and qualified for the Korn Ferry Tour:

  1. “Battlefield promotion” – winning three Korn Ferry Tour events
  2. Top 25 on tour – being among the top in total earnings for the regular season
  3. Top 25 in the finals – being among the top in the four-tournament finals.

Related Jobs

What If You Want To Be Part Of The Industry?

Thankfully, there are many golf jobs available that are not nearly as competitive as becoming a PGA golfer. Here is how to start a career in golf other than being a player:

Step 1. Know the different types of golf jobs available. 

Here are a few of the most common ones: 

  • Head or Assistant Professional
  • Golf Coach
  • Golf Instructor
  • Golf Course General Manager
  • Tournament Coordinator
  • Sales Representative
  • Outside Operations
  • Merchandiser
  • Grounds Superintendent
  • Locker Room Manager
  • Pro Shop Manager
  • Simulator Manager
  • Caddy Master
  • Golf Equipment Engineer.

Step 2. Get a job at a golf course.

Go to the PGA website’s jobs portal to look for jobs at golf courses. Once you find positions that interest you, craft a mission statement along with your cover letter. The mission statement gives you a space to exceed other applicants and express your intention to build a career in golf. 

Step 3. Take specific steps related to your target occupation.

Your path will vary based on the specific job, of course. Here are key building blocks for some of the most sought-after careers in golf:

  • Training pro – You will need to be 18 and ideally have a high school diploma. You must pass a Player Ability Test (PAT), after which you are enrolled in the PGA program (through which you can get a PGA membership). 
  • Management — Get a college business degree. Even better, go to Professional Golf Management (PGM) college, available through 18 schools nationwide. 
  • Sales Rep – Get a bachelor’s degree in sales or a related field. 
  • Equipment Engineer — For this job in golf, you will need an engineering degree.

Step 4. Join the Professional Golf Management Program (if applicable). 

This program is typically required for jobs at golf courses. 

You can become a PGA member by taking a series of classes, the Professional Golf Management Program. It is possible to get this membership by attending one of the universities that has a PGM program. However, the easiest route is to take the courses through the PGA website.

Salary Expectation for Common Careers In Golf

Here are the average salaries in the United States for top golf careers:

  • Golf Sales Rep — $43,000
  • Golf Course GM — $62,000
  • Golf Equipment Engineer — $68,000
  • Head Golf Pro — $54,000
  • Golf Instructor — $44,000

Now, Network!

If you want to make it in golf, the path is not easy. Meeting people in the industry is a crucial way to get noticed. At, we offer a free sports jobs network to help you win your career. Join today to get the attention of golf industry leaders and professionals and pave your way to career success.