Road to Becoming a Pro: Should College be a Pit Stop?

Road to Becoming a Pro: Should College be a Pit Stop?

If you’ve been holding a golf club ever since you were able to walk, you probably had this dream at one point in your life: to become a pro. Golf wasn’t just a hobby to you; it was a passion that sucked in every ounce of your free time, and not in a bad way. You lived and breathed the sport and enjoyed every second of it. For most, the passion never dies but the dream does end. For others, the quest to become a pro falls short. And for others, well, they make it to the top.

But how does one make the cut when the ambition and desire is the same across the board? What does it take, beside undeniable talent to make it to the big time? There’s one major decision that most teenagers must make that could be crucial to their golf pro career journey: college. The debate has been ongoing for years, and the answer isn’t getting any clearer. Going to a Division One college for golf probably seems like the most logical route to take when trying to become a tour pro and it’s probably the safest way to go. Golfers get a four year education and get to play their beloved sport essentially for free, and maybe get both the education and the playing time for no cost if their grades or killer game got them scholarships. And hey, if they don’t make it to the big time, at least they have that degree under their belt. So what seems to be the problem?

Some would argue that going to college is a waste of precious time for a young adult. Why spend your time getting coached and trained in college by coaches, when you can be attending private golf institutions located around the world, with physical trainers, highly qualified golf instructors and sports physiologists? Why compete against other colleges when you can join developmental tours and compete against your competition head on? Additionally, college golfers can’t just focus on improving their golf game, when they have classes that need the same amount of attention. Golfers who skip the college run have the opportunity to only focus on golf. Then when it comes time to compete with those who didn’t go to college and only attend golf academies, well, they typically fall far behind. Hank Haney, writer for Golf Digest, takes this argument further in his article, “Best Route to the Tour? It’s Not College.”

This isn’t to say that every professional golfer doesn’t have a college degree. Some of the all time greats have bachelor’s degrees or at least have a couple years of college education on their resume, like Tiger Woods and Phil Michelson. Going to college while playing golf is definitely less risky: you get the degree and get to practice your game. By the time you graduate, you’re still young enough to qualify for Q School. While some players who chose the non-college path are racking up academy loans and expenses, you’re paying for a 2 for 1 deal: golf and education and maybe you’re not paying at all or as much with solid scholarships. Ideally, if you think you’re good enough to go to college and make pro golf, chances are going to college won’t affect that.

Making this decision as a young kid isn’t black and white, and the issue will probably never have a clear cut answer. However, if you’re good enough to become a pro, playing at the college level probably won’t be the reason you miss the cut.

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