It’s that time of the year again when ambitious male and female golfers start planning to go to a tour school in an attempt to earn playing rights to play on a professional golf tour.
They want to live their dream of becoming a highly paid professional golfer like Adam Scott, earning their income playing in professional golf tournaments.
The fields at tour school are an interesting mix of amateur golfers and professionals ranging in age from 18 to 50 from all over the world, all with the same big goal in mind.
They want to earn the right to play on a professional golf tour.
It is always inspiring to see motivated and serious golfers wanting to achieve their big aim in life playing golf successfully on a pro tour, because many of them have grown up watching their golf stars on TV hitting winning shots to win the big cheques, and achieve a level of golfing glory, and they want some of the same.
In today’s article we will explore the important question “how do you know if you are a good enough golfer to go to tour school?”
We hope that by the end of our article you will have a clearer idea about whether you are really ready to compete on tour, or that possibly you need to work at your game for a little longer to get ready.
Now as I’m sure you already know, all tour schools operate in a similar way in that they publish dates on their website for the stages of their tour school, which is usually from 2 to 4 stages.
Each stage is usually 4 rounds of golf and the amateur or professional golfer who has entered tour school will play the first stage of tour school at a golf course/s chosen by the respective tour, and hopefully they will play well enough to continue on to stage 2.
For example at the European Tour School they have three stages, with the first and second stages being 4 rounds each, and the final stage 6 rounds.
At most tour schools you will have to compete over at least two stages, or 8 rounds of golf to get to the final stage, and you will have to play to a very high standard to earn your card.
And keep in mind just getting a tour card isn't really enough, as in most cases you will need to finish high enough in the final standings to gain entry into most of the tour events.
To enter tour school you will also need an official handicap of around scratch (0) to enter most tour schools, although you can enter the Australasian Tour School with a handicap of 2.5, however we suggest that if you don’t have a true scratch handicap or better, then keep practicing because you won't be good enough to get through the qualifying stages.
So How Good Do You Really Have to Be?
How good do you have to be to really have a good chance of earning your tour card? It's the only question that you need to truly consider and quite honestly unless you have a competitive score average of par or better in national ranked tournaments over a whole season playing at least 50 rounds of golf, you are best to keep working at your game.
The simple fact is that every tour school is geared to this minimum standard of excellence.
Think about this for a moment, you will play a minimum of eight rounds to qualify for a small tour like the Australasian Tour, and as many as 17 rounds to qualify for a major tour like the Web.com Tour, and you will be required to play to much better than par in all kinds of weather conditions on the bigger tours to secure your card.
The majority of players entering tour schools are not nearly at this standard, and the results show in the final analysis every year. Yes many of these tour hopefuls can score well around their home course, and maybe even around the local courses in their district, but tour school is a different animal altogether.
At the 2013 Web.Com Tour School final stage Zach Fischer finished 31 under par for 6 rounds, (averaging 5.1 under par per round) and won the tour school earning his card to play on the Web.Com Tour in 2014 which was a phenomenal effort.
Now you would think with that standard of play he would do really well on the Web.Com Tour but as of the end of August 2014 he had earned just US $65,000 dollars, ranking him 77th on the money list, (from the 18 events he had competed in) and he made the cut in 11 events and missed the cut in 7 (61 percent).
His score average (actual) at the end of August 2014 was 70.68 ranking him 87th in this category. So it just goes to show that even qualifying for the Web.Com tour in spectacular fashion doesn’t guarantee you anything, as you still have to play to a very high standard every day you compete, if you want to learn how to become a successful tournament professional.
To give you an idea of just how good you have to be, to earn last card at the Web.Com Tour School in 2013, you needed to finish at 16 under par for the final 6 rounds, which is averaging 2.6 under par each day.
This is after successfully qualifying through the first 3 stages.
4 Tour School Tactics
So how do you develop you game to a high enough standard that you give yourself the very best chance of playing on a pro tour, and more importantly, to develop your game to a level where you can stay on tour for years to come?
Here are our 4 tour school tips for any serious amateur or professional golfer considering developing their game with the sole purpose of competing at a tour school, and winning a card to play on a professional golf tour.
Tour School Tactic 1. Score Average is the Big Deal
Understand that your competitive score average over at least one full season (and a minimum of 50 rounds) in national and international ranked tournaments (amateur or pro events) is the only real barometer of whether your standard is good enough to go to tour school.
Playing to par or better in local club events, and district tournaments, is just not going to be nearly good enough for a serious crack at tour school; you need to compete and consistently contend in major amateur tournaments to be sure.
Don’t be misled by well-meaning family and friends who tell you that because you hit the ball like a top tour player, and you play great on your home courses that it is your guarantee of success at tour school.
Over the years many home town hero's have gone to tour school and come home with their tail between their legs.
Let me say it again, your long-term competitive score average playing hundreds of holes at lots of different golf course venues, on different golf course styles, in all kinds of conditions, and to a very high standard, is all that matters.
Tour school and tour golf will always be about how well you can score over hundreds of holes, and it's not about anything else.
Tour School Tactic 2. It's Not About Mental Toughness
You don’t just need ‘Mental Toughness’ to succeed in qualifying and playing successfully on a pro tour, what you really need is The Mental Toughness Endurance Factor, which is not exactly the same thing.
Any golfer can be mentally tough enough to play decently for a round or two, but the true test of whether you can make it on a pro tour is going to get down to your emotional endurance and grit over hundreds of holes.
Emotional endurance describes your ability to completely maintain and manage your emotional state to no more than a slightly frustrated level in every type of condition imaginable, over hundreds of holes.
How many holes can you play when things are not going the way you want before you get frustrated and angry?
Can you play at least 90 holes of competitive golf without letting poor performances derail your scoring ability?
Emotional endurance is the key tour player factor that helps you to keep your score around par over long periods of time, and many miles of golf course traveled.
The Sprint Golfer and The Ultra Marathon Golfer
At Pro Tour Golf College we describe to our students the crucial difference between what we call a sprint golfer, and what we call an ultra-marathon golfer.
Sprint golfers are good for 18 holes—maybe 36 holes, and then they run out of gas. The true tournament golfer however is someone who can play to a very high standard over 72 holes or more, week-in-and-week-out without suffering from depression or anxiety because of a run of poor play.
In our experience you have to be an ultra-marathon golfer than a sprint golfer, and your goal should be to train to become an ultra-marathon golfer if you want to succeed as a professional tour golfer.
18 holes of golf is a walk of roughly 7100 yards from the men's tee's which equates to about 4 miles, or 6.4 kilometers of walking.
Now how many rounds of golf, and miles of golf holes do you need to walk to become a top tour golfer?
Hundreds of miles is the only answer that makes sense, and what this essentially means is that you must learn how to manage and maintain a low golf score average over hundreds of miles of golf holes.
I’m sure that you can see that your emotional endurance combined with well-developed golf skills specifically developed for playing golf on tour is going to be essential for your success?
Tour School Tactic 3. Develop Your 'Tour Skills' to Tour Grade
Tour golf skills are the golf skills you will rely on when your tee to green long game is going a little haywire.
Tour golfer’s average around 12 greens per round in regulation, from round to round, which means that on their good days they miss about 4 greens in regulation, and on their bad days they miss 8.
Believe me when I tell you that you will have more bad tee to green days than good ones.
The tour skills you need to develop to what we call tour grade, and they will be the high and soft flop shots, and a variety of spinning and releasing pitch shots, as well as bunker shots from all types of lies to access tight pin placements which are the norm on a pro tour.
And you will also need to be able to accomplish this in wet and dry conditions, and from all types of surfaces and lies.
You will also need to be proficient with your recovery techniques from the different types of grasses surrounding the greens.
On top of this you will also need to be a fearless putter on severely sloping and fast greens, and have the nerve to keep holing the tough putts inside 5 feet, from hole to hole, and from round to round.
Have you noticed when you watch tour events on TV how good the scrambling skills of top tour golfers are, and how this ability helps keep them in contention?
You will see the tour skills they rely on that keep them on top of their score management from round to round, and you need to be constantly working and developing your tour skills to tour grade to help you keep your score average down around par or better to have any chance of making it through tour school.
Tour School Tactic 4.
Finally you will need to be a full time golfer to consider going to tour school. This means that playing golf is your full time job, and playing, practicing and developing your golf skills is what you do for a minimum of 5 to 6 hours per day, for 5 to 6 days per week.
Tour school is not for part-time golfers, or for those who "just want to give it a try to see if they’re good enough."
Before you go to a tour school you will have invested literally thousands of hours into your game, and you will have earned the special level of confidence that you need, to know that you have made the right choice in your life.
Going to tour school is serious business for serious golfers, and will require your highest standards of excellence for you to have any chance of obtaining your card.
So if you believe with all your heart and mind that you have what it takes to go to tour school, and you have maintained a par or better average in important tournaments for a season or more, then you just might have a chance of winning playing privileges to play on a professional golf tour.
And live your dream. We wish you the very best.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
Your Success On Tour is Our Business