Becoming a PGA Professional and What it Means


OurGolfClubs Author at OurGolfClubs | + posts

Luke is an avid weekend-warrior golfer from the East Coast who plays golf more than he cares to admit. Starting from zero experience to averaging breaking 80 he has tried everything to improve his game.

Here’s what it means to be a PGA Professional – Pro Golfer – in the United States:

Why Do Golfers Take Divots?
Why Do Golfers Take Divots?

-The United States is divided into 19 regions and 52 districts – each with its own membership, bylaws, board of directors.

The first step towards becoming a PGA Professional is to contact the PGA Membership Department for information on how to join your local district association. 

– Meeting other golf professionals in your area who share the same interests and who are working at the same level.

-Meeting people in your community who share your passion for golf.

-Learning from experienced PGA Professionals while networking with peers.

– The opportunity to pass on your personal lessons, knowledge, and experiences to other passionate people about golf.

-Prestige of working at a place that is always in the spotlight and who hire golf professionals.

-Many PGA Professionals carry endorsement deals with major equipment companies, teaching pro lines and other career opportunities.

-Pursuing your passion for the game of golf as a full time job or part time job depending on what you want to do.

-Ability to find employment easily through networking and connections made while being a member of the association.

PGA Professional

Being a PGA Professional means having an opportunity to work within a community filled with passionate people who love golf as much as you do. If you are willing to put hard work into achieving your goals, there’s nothing stopping you from becoming a PGA Professional one day!  

How do you become a PGA professional: 6 Steps

  1. Contact your local PGA district for information first.
  2. Pass the initial application process.
  3. Complete all hours of formal coursework needed.
  4. Take and pass the PGA examination.
  5. Apply for certification with the USPTR (United States Professional Tennis Registry).
  6. Maintain membership dues, insurance, continuing education units, etc.. to remain an active member in good standing within your local association/district.

Where can you find a local PGA district?

Most PGA districts are associated with a specific state or geographic area, so you will want to contact the appropriate district for more information.

Most of these local associations have their own website where you can find more information about joining your local association. Search for “PGA” and the name of your state/area to find your local PGA district’s website.

What is the PGA Initial Application Process Like?

The PGA Initial Application process can be found on the association’s website.

It will include information about becoming a member, certification requirements and the process for applying for membership.

The application may also ask questions about education you have completed in relation to golf or lessons you’ve given, including how many lessons you’ve given, hours of instruction time, and what tools you use.

What Does the PGA Certification Process Look Like?

After completing your application, your local association will contact you with more information about applying for certification.

If you already have a teaching background or are planning to get one prior to submitting your application, this will help speed up the process once you submit your application.

The certification process is a three-part process: education, experience and examination.

Education: The first part of the PGA Certification Process is to complete an extensive Core Curriculum Program .

There are six Core Course categories with seven mandatory courses in each category for a total of 42 educational hours that must be completed before applying for the examination.

If you have completed a certification program from another organization, it must be approved by the PGA of America prior to taking part in any of their courses.

PGA Professionals must also pass a licensing test that will exam your knowledge on USGA rules and regulations as well as a basic golf instruction test.

Experience: Once you have successfully completed the educational portion of the certification process, you will be eligible to apply for experience as a PGA Apprentice.

You must complete a minimum of two years as an apprentice before being able to take the examination.

It is important that during your apprenticeship you continue your education and pass additional USGA tests to maintain knowledge of current rules and regulations.

Examination: The third part of the certification process is the examination.

You must pass a comprehensive PGA Professional National Exam .

The exam includes sections on basic instruction, USGA rules and regulations, course management, customer relations/business management, lesson planning and equipment fitting.

What Does the PGA Experience Process Look Like?

After successfully completing your application and coursework, you will be granted “PGA Apprentice” status. As a PGA Apprentice, you must complete a minimum of two years of approved experience under the supervision of a PGA Professional.

Your supervisor can provide guidance to help you successfully complete your experience requirement.

The PGA Experience Process incorporates a two-tiered system.

The first tier is a “Certified Golf Professional,” and the second tier is a “Supervised Experience,” which requires a minimum of 500 hours in each category, with an application being submitted for review and approval by the local association.

What are the benefits of being a PGA professional?

There are various benefits among being a PGA professional. Some of the benefits that you may have the opportunity to earn as a PGA professional include:

  • Assist in planning and directing all phases of a golf event.
  • Designing and supervising construction, maintenance, and improvement of golf courses.
  • Managing playing conditions on golf courses throughout your community or any region/district you choose to work in.
  • Providing instruction on course management for club members and fee play patrons as well as repairs to equipment.
  • Gaining access to incredible potential networking opportunities with other professionals from varying backgrounds throughout the industry including other PGA professionals, manufacturers, business owners, etc.

What does it mean to be PGA certified?

Becoming PGA certified means that you have completed your education and passed your exam to become an official member of the association.

Once you are PGA certified, it is time for you to choose where you want to go with this certification based on what area/category of the golf course industry.

There are currently 9 different educational categories a PGA professional can specialize in:

  • Clubfitting / Clubmaking
  • Teaching
  • Groundskeeping and Irrigation
  • Practice Facility Management
  • Sports Turf Management (Athletic Field Construction and Maintenance)
  • Facilities Architecture (Golf Course Design, Construction and Operation)
  • Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSA) Certification – The GCSA certification is for superintendents who do NOT want to go through the golf course management program.  

How much do PGA pros make?

According to indeed.com , the average salary of a PGA professional is $55,000.

What is the job outlook for PGA pros?

The job outlook is very optimistic as there has been an increase in jobs over the past 5 years and we will continue to see an increase as time goes by due to golf becoming such a popular sport among the American public internationally.   

There are many benefits that come along with being a PGA professional including:

  1. networking opportunities within one’s community,
  2. working within the industry that they love,
  3. mentoring those who show potential,
  4. keeping yourself educated on courses your club members may play,
  5. and making a positive impact on the environment.
  6. Though there are many benefits to being a PGA professional, it is important to understand that there are also sacrifices you must be willing to make if this position interests you. Some of the sacrifices include:
  7. Being away from family or friends for extended amounts of time during events or tournaments,
  8. Not having as much free time as you would like due to work commitments,
  9. Spending more money traveling around your community for various events involving clubs and other golf professionals.  

Do PGA pros get free golf?

According to PGA, there are NO free rounds of golf for PGA professionals. If you are a member at a course, whether or not you are employed by the club/course has no effect on your ability to play there.  

Who are some famous PGA Pros?

Not only are PGA professionals not limited to your area, they may be found all around the world. The following are some well-known PGA professionals:

  • Jack Nicklaus
  • Tom Watson
  • Tiger Woods
  • Annika Sorenstam   
  • Keegan Bradley

So, what do we know about PGA Pros in Conclusion?

There is a lot of potential within the career of PGA professional.

Attending local, regional and national golf events creates networking opportunities with other professionals in the industry.

PGA Pros must be willing to work long hours on weekends and sometimes week nights depending on an event taking place at their club/course.

The job outlook is very optimistic as there has been an increase in jobs over the past 5 years and we will continue to see an increase as time goes by due to golf becoming such a popular sport among the American public internationally.  

Most PGA pros do not get free rounds of golf and if you are employed by a course or club, this does not determine your ability to play there for free regardless of who you are.  

Although the career of a PGA professional has many opportunities, it also entails certain sacrifices if this line of work appeals to them.

OurGolfClubs Author at OurGolfClubs | + posts

Luke is an avid weekend-warrior golfer from the East Coast who plays golf more than he cares to admit. Starting from zero experience to averaging breaking 80 he has tried everything to improve his game.

Luke Griffin

Luke is an avid weekend-warrior golfer from the East Coast who plays golf more than he cares to admit. Starting from zero experience to averaging breaking 80 he has tried everything to improve his game.

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