My name is Andrew Jensen and I am a golf pro on the Canadian Tour. Along with my Canadian Tour events I will also be trying out for both PGA and Nationwide Tour events. All of these tournaments will give me the experience needed to reach my long term goal of being a full time member of the PGA Tour.
My sites will keep you informed of all the ups and downs of the life of a professional golfer. Check back often as I will be frequently blogging about my experiences on tour
How To Became A Tour Pro
Mid way through my first season on Tour, the only constant has been the learning curve. In these past months I have learned so much. What’s more are the things I learned prior to turning pro. When I decided professional golf was what I wanted to do, I began to learn so much more than I had anticipated. I’ll attempt to put this new found knowledge into words for anyone who’s in the same place I found myself in a few years ago. Here is my step by step “How to” guide for turning professional and competing out on tour.
Step 1: Research
The first step of the process is doing some serious research on professional golf. This will give you an idea of whether or not your game is cut out to compete on a professional tour. Research all the ins and outs of tour golf. These ins and outs may include:
1- What tours are out there.
Obviously the big ticket is the PGA/LPGA Tour, but for 99% of people turning pro, they are going to start on something a little less spectacular. Some great tours to start out on are: (men)The Canadian Tour, The Gateway Tour, The Hooters Tour, (women)The Duramed Futures Tour, The CN Women’s Canadian Tour
(List of Golf Tours)
2- What is the best path to the PGA/LPGA Tour.
Figure out what is the popular pathway to the big show. This is different for everyone, but the records can clearly show that some tours are better training grounds and better pathways to the PGA/LPGA.
3- What kind of play is expected on those tours.
Check out the past statistics/results of the desired tours. When you see what kind of play is expected out there, you can better assess your own game and decide whether or not you can to compete at that level.
4- The credibility of those tours.
This is a very important thing to research. With most of mini-tour golf comes a high price tag. Over the years, there have been incidents where players have put in large amounts of money to play golf and the event/tour went under, leaving the player out of money and competition. I don’t want this to happen to you. Figure out where you are willing to put your money and be certain that it will be a trustworthy tour.
5- The expenses of the tours
Estimate what a year on your desired tour will cost. Before you propose investment plans to sponsors, it’s important to know how much you will need to play golf. Most mini-tours are very open with your future costs by clearly posting membership and entry fees online. The expenses they cannot help you with is the travel/living expenses while competing. This is the tricky part. Having yet to experience it, you can only estimate so well. You have to ask around. Ask as many pro golfers that you can reach about their expenses. Most pros will be more than willing to help out with a cost figure(we were once in your shoes asking the same questions).
Step 2: A Plan
You’ve done your research and selected a tour that you are confident you can compete on, it’s time to set a very realistic and very personal plan to getting to the PGA Tour. This plan will be your constant reminder that it won’t happen over night, that you are working towards a final goal sometime in the near future. My personal plan was a 5 year plan to reach the PGA Tour. I set realistic progression(Canadian Tour -> Nationwide Tour -> PGA Tour), reachable goals(all very specific to each year out there), and a reasonable budget(one that was well researched). This plan is a great thing to look over for motivation, but it also serves as a great business plan when presenting to potential sponsors who might be willing to give you money to play golf professionally.
The first step of my plan was to qualify for the Canadian Tour in September of 2007 -I think it’s realistic to give yourself at least six months of proper preparation for that moment- by March 2007 I was beginning to do everything I could to prepare my body, mind, and golf game for Q School. If you have a date marked on your calendar as your “turn pro” day it should be at least six months into the future. If the six months pass and you don’t feel ready to make the transition, don’t. Professional golf is not going anywhere. If you don’t feel 100% ready, don’t waste your time(I originally was going to turn pro in January 07 but didn’t feel ready so I waited). Wait until you are 100% sure that it’s the time. Again; if you don’t feel ready, wait until you are. You’ll thank yourself in the future.
Step 3: Financial Backing
The path is set out in front of you, it’s time to find the financial backing that will get you walking that path. This is a very important step because without money you can’t play golf, it’s a little harsh but it’s the reality we face. There are many ways of doing this. I can only explain the way I did it, which is one of the most common methods used by a newly crowned pro. I sold shares of myself like a business would. Thankfully enough I have some great people that are taking care of that for me. These people got together and determined a reasonable plan of attack and are doing all they can to seeing it through. Please understand; these people didn’t come asking me to help, I asked for their help. If you are afraid to ask for help or money you won’t find any. There are lots of great people in this world that would be more than happy to help you reach your dream. How can they help you if they don’t know your dream? Approach them with your dream on the chance that they will help. Some will help; most won’t, that’s another harsh reality we face. Get used to the rejection. If you can’t handle rejection it will be a difficult career for you. If you can handle rejection you will do just fine out on tour.
Step 4: Coaching
The next step is locking up the proper coaching. There are three important coaches to have:
1- Swing Coach
This is a personal area that varies with every player. I feel you should stick with what got you to this place. If you already have a swing coach, stick with them. If you don’t, try to find someone that you connect with and can share in the same goals and expectations. I have been working with the same coach since 2006. He helped get me to this level, and I would be stupid to ignore that and find someone new. We’ve developed the same goals for my game, and it is great having that bond with someone. I trust him with my golf swing, and now my career. You should also find someone who you can trust on that level.
2- Conditioning Coach
Physical fitness is a crucial part of today’s game. It’s rare to find a player on Tour that doesn’t spend time in the gym each week. Hours in the gym are now part of the job description. It’s important to find a trainer who knows your body, limitations, expectations, and most importantly; your drive. Team up with someone who will motivate you when you can’t motivate yourself. My trainer knows my strengths and weaknesses. He has taken it upon himself to work on my weaknesses and to also make my strengths even stronger. Find a trainer who is educated about the game, but even more educated about the human body. Our bodies are our tools, we have to take great care of them. Having someone who can coach you on how to properly care for your body will do amazing things for the longevity of your career and also the quality of your life.
3- Mental Coach
Not everyone can afford time with a sports psychologist; if you can, use that to your advantage. For the rest of us, we have to find a reasonable substitute. In my case, I came across the writings of two great golf/mental coaches. Their work has really pushed my game to levels I never thought possible. If you elect to take the book route; great, but do so with caution. There are hundreds of books out there; when you start reading everyone’s take on it, you are setting yourself up for failure. My suggestion is do some research and find out who’s work does the most for you, then stick with them. If certain books do lots of good for you, you’ll one day play your way into affording one on one time with the authors.
Step 5: The Transition
Everything is now in place. You did your homework, set your goals, have the money in the bank, and have a team of people coaching you along the way, now it is your turn to make the transition. This is the shortest step of the process. In some cases you qualify for a tour to turn pro, in other cases you just put up your money to play and you are a pro. My transition was playing at Q School. I played Q School, made the Tour and was officially a professional golfer. If you elect the other route, chosen by the Gateway Tour among others, you will become a pro when you tee it up in your first event. That’s all there is to it. There are months, even years of build up for one day; a moment in one day even, but now you are a pro. Congratulations!
Step 6: You’re a Pro (a few tips)
Here are a few pointers I can offer for adjusting to the lifestyle of professional golf.
Book in advance: You’ll save a lot of time, money, and headaches when you plan ahead. If you can, make your schedule early and book the travel and living arrangements early. Trust me, your life will be much less stressful.
Stay Positive: Out on tour; bad things will happen, it’s a given. poor play, missed cuts, finishing second, lost luggage, loneliness, etc... They key is to stay positive in spite of all of it. If you stay positive you’ll stay confident in yourself and your game. Self confidence and confidence in your game are the first things needed to play good golf.
Eat Well: Giving in to the temptation of fast food will hurt your a great deal. It’s easy and quick, but it doesn’t properly fuel your body to perform at it’s highest level under pressure.
Read: Reading is the best thing you can do to kill the countless hours you have to burn. Watching TV gets boring quick. I recommend you read a lot. Lots of the guys out here read, and it becomes a great thing to talk about with your peers.
Find a Gym: No matter where you are; find a place to workout. Keeping your fitness routine constant keeps your body ready to perform it’s best.
Enjoy it: No matter the stresses, disappointments, headaches, loneliness, etc... remember what you’re doing. You're playing golf for a living! Never lose sight of that. This is an amazing blessing you have to travel, see great places, meet amazing people, and above all play golf. Remember to stop and take it all in. If you get to caught up in what is going wrong, you’ll lose your perspective. Losing your perspective is the first step to losing your love of the game, and more importantly your drive to keep playing. Love the game, and enjoy the opportunity.
Today’s article is part of a Two-Week series on “How To Get Your Dream Golf Job”:
SERIES - Week One:
- “How To Become a Tour Pro” (Monday)
- “How To Own and Run a ProShop” (Tuesday)
- “How To Become Golf Club Designer” (Wednesday)
- “How To Become A Golf Sales Rep” (Thursday)
- “How To Become a Professional Long Driver” (Friday)