Should I Turn Pro? - The Financial Awakening

One thing I hear often is if you shoot around par in a regional PGA event you’ll make a little money on the side to boost your wage.

After finding work and life get in the way of motivation and the fact I’ve never been naturally blessed with shooting under par regularly I started to wonder how much would you earn if you did shoot level par every round on different mini tours.

That became the basis of this research into what you could earn if you shot level par, -1, or -2 in each round you played on several of the UK’s mini tours.

I selected for study the first 10 ‘normal’ rounds from 5 tours, and by normal rounds I excluded pro-ams, assistants/senior events and pre-qualifiers etc. I looked for the first 10 events of 2017 that had a prize fund that represented a typical event.

I would then insert ‘Golfer-X’ into the field with one of the above scores and see how he placed and estimate his earnings based on the prizes awarded.

I looked into the Jamega Tour, 1836 Tour, TP Tour, Europro Tour and midland regional events for PGA registered members (events for those that have undergone PGA training).
EuroPro events often had a cut, therefore the score would be considered as to whether after two rounds, E, -2 or -4 would make the cut, rather than look at if E, -3 or -6 picked up money following three rounds.

I then was intrigued as to the actual cost of playing each event and the cost of joining or qualifying for the tour which is mentioned later.  

In the charts below, black events are - one round, red - two rounds, light blue - three rounds.

 Mr Level Par Golfer

It’s very tough to judge what standard of golf Mr Level Par would play at as an amateur equivalent as the difficulty of golf courses on each circuit can heavily influence this but I would likely estimate that most events would carry a CSS of level par to plus 2. This is my rough guess, so I’d estimate Mr Level Par is a +1 amateur.

Mr Level Par had a great start to his TP tour life with a tied first at Royal St Georges, now I understand that he may have been in a forced playoff but I can’t estimate who would win, so here is an estimate of a split pot.

Following the ten events Mr Level Par had the greatest income from a TP Tour event, with a £3038.58 total. However with a TP Tour joining fee of £50 plus £125 per event he has expended £1300 and played a total of 11 rounds of golf.
This figure DOES NOT INCLUDE: travel, accommodation, practice rounds and other associated costs. I will come to this later.
Mr 1-Under Par
Mr 1UP would have started the season very well with two T1st and an outright win as a Midland PGA pro. With this start Mr 1UP would have earned £750 in three events with a relatively low cost (around £300).

Mr 1UP would be settling nicely into an outright win at St Georges on the TP Tour also, taking the £1500 prize in his first event.
Again, the greatest take home for Mr 1UP would have been the TP Tour (£5213), followed by the 1836 Tour. (£4826) during the first ten events of the season.
Now, how good is Mr 1Up? I'd loosely estimate this kind of scoring at around the +2 to +2.5 amateur equivalent range.
Mr 2-Under Par

Now we have the star player in my research, Mr 2UP.
Mr 2UP finished Tied 1st at Wychwood on the Jamega Tour (£2250).
Me 2UP was T1st on the 1836 Tour,  he had three wins in the Midlands Regional events and two outright wins and one tied 1st on the 1836 tour.
So Mr 2Up is showing signs of promise and likely playing to an amateur handicap of +2.5 to +4. 
Mr 2 Up won a grand total of... £9784 on the EuroPro, £7287 on the TP, £6225 on the Jamega, and £6040 on the 1836. The Midlands didn't bring forth the same amount of gold for Mr 2 UP however with just £3269 for 10 events.
Now that looks all well and good but now lets talk about... EXPENSES
Expenses and My Figures
So, I tried to keep this relatively simple as a finance model and adopt numbers from those that have experience of the above tours. Therefore the conclusion was that:

  • The 1836 Tour, Midland Regionals and the TP tour are often one day events with the odd two day event. Therefore £50 per event covers travel and expenses with the cost of the odd hotel and practice round factored in. Those tours, in 10 events consisted of 11 rounds for the TP Tour and 12 rounds for the Midlands and 1836.
  • The Jamega tour is often two rounds, therefore travel, expenses, practice rounds and accommodation can comfortably reach £125 without living like Fin Bullough. The Jamega tour consisted of 20 rounds for 10 events.
  • The EuroPro is more expensive as the distance between events is greater, the travel may be via air, accommodation is required for two to three days and the typical estimate per event including fees is approx. £450 cheap to £600. This is without a caddie. The EuroPro first 10 events consisted of 29 rounds, however Mr 2Up played 28 rounds missing one cut, Mr 1UP played 24 rounds and Mr Level Par played 24 rounds.
Expenses for 10 Events Plus Fees
Event Fees are shown above but the estimated fee is pretty typical of all events.
Breaking down the fees:

  • EuroPro requires stage one qualifying at a regional location which costs £195, plus £195 if you pass to the Final Stage. This Final stage fee includes the membership to the tour, be it  either a full membership or partial membership category depending on your placing at final qualifiers.
  • The other tours just require you to qualify financially by paying the joining fee and event fee. The TP tour shows current fees at £50.99 however this may be a partial fee as my research was conducted mid season.
Cut to the chase, how much did they make... or lose?

So here we are 10 events in and early season analysis shows if you are shooting -2, -1 or E then the TP Tour is the place to do it.

If you are a par player then regional events are the sensible option. It's arguable that you can cut the costs down from £50 per event but some regions have greater travel distances between events than others. Therefore a total of £30 may be more realistic per event but this is so subjective, as with the other events and there proximity to your location.

  • If you are a good professional golfer, but not elite... why would you even look at EuroPro? Seriously. Shooting -1 each event will make you -£2267 in 10 events. You'd earn £3412 on the TP Tour shooting the same scores.
  • Mr 2UP, the +3.5 golfer, earned £5486 after expenses for 10 events on the TP Tour. Approximately 4 months have passed. £1371 per month following costs. There are many easier ways to earn that.
  • You need to be shooting very low, very often to make money on the Jamega and EuroPro, but you also need the dreamers to fund it. Kitty Men.
  • The cost of being one shot or two shots better per round per season is considerable.
  •  To make money on the EuroPro you need to win multiple times.
  •  It's understandable why so many coaches don't play, they coach. Financially, it's not secure enough to make it financially viable.

  • The average winning score per round on each tour was -4.58 per round on the 1836 Tour, -4.38 on the EuroPro, -3.36 on the TP Tour, -3.1 on the Jamega and -3.0 in the Midlands Regionals.
    Final words
    This whole post is not a criticism or complaint, it's a financial reality check for those who are unsure what to do when they are playing well as an amateur and thinking to consider joining the professional ranks.
    Mini-Tours are the entry level for many but I see very often 2 handicap golfers turning pro to make a living on the pro circuit and its easily overlooked when a golfer is following their heart not their brain. Unless you are good, you may well be just a kitty man.
    Understandably, many do enter events for the pleasure of it and the hope of playing well in a one day event earning a win. That win may offset some of the annual costs, be rewarded with praise and a sense of achievement but all I've shown above are the numbers from the open source information I could find on the financial cost and rewards dependent on skill.
    I hope you enjoyed this and feel free to subscribe and comment your thoughts or any additional insight or to argue the accuracy or question the research.
    Mike Bygrave


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