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When do you start preparing for a career as a tournament professional, and how do you go about it? There is no one pathway, in fact there are numerous ways that someone can develop their golf game to give themselves the best chance to play on a professional tour.
The common belief is that unless you are a child prodigy the chances are against you. In-fact the opposite is the case as a mountain of scientific research shows that early specialization in sport and the pressures and injuries that go with it is the main cause of burnout of young golfers as was seen in tennis in the 1980’s and in golf this century.
That is why the PGA and LPGA Tour’s now have a strict policy of members having to be 18 years of age before they can play on tour. This is the case for 17 year old Korean Si Woo Kim who attended the PGA Tour School in 2012 won his tour card but is not able to compete until he turns eighteen on June 28th 2013.
Unfortunately for him 75% of tournaments will have been played and has to earn the required money to keep his card!
Being identified in your County or State program is the most common way to access coaching, funding and opportunity to compete in tournaments and lift your ranking nationally.
There are limited spots in the above pathway especially for those who continue to sample other sports, and may have also focused on their education and only starting to specialize around the age of sixteen and have missed being identified.
So how does a young golfer find the right mix of education and playing and still compete at a high level before turning professional?
Young golfers like world amateur number 1 New Zealand's Lydia Ko are training and playing full time. That means that she is spending a minimum six hours each day on her golf game and playing in tournaments all year round.
So a young golfer attending a regular school and training after school is probably averaging two to three hours a day maximum and will find it difficult if not impossible to compete against someone like Lydia Ko.
The option and answer to this challenge is on-line home schooling. Just like most Olympic athletes who train, travel and compete throughout the four year cycle they are enrolled in high school or university studies on-line.
This type of option is in my opinion not for ordinary students who benefit with the interaction of children their own age at school.
This is for highly self-motivated young people who have the discipline and need the flexibility to train and compete but still maintain an ongoing education, as there are no guarantee’s in sport.
Some of these online home school programs are aligned with the US college system so choosing the right program is essential if that is the pathway you decide to choose. The US college system is still regarded as the best pathway for completing a higher education and developing your golf game to be tour ready at the same time.
“The preponderance of the available evidence clearly indicates that home schoolers do at least as well as their publicly educated peers on standard academic measures”
- Mitchell Stevens, Stanford University education professor and expert on home schooling.
In Australia each state has its own requirements for home schooling so it would be advisable to check them out on-line before you make any decisions on whether home schooling is the right choice for you.
Home schooling is not for everybody but more and more young golfers around the world are going with this model because it allows them to compete at the highest level to prepare for the tour, and finish their education at the same time.
All the extra time this pathway creates to train is wasted if the training is not designed to improve your golf game and get you ready to play on tour.
Rather than hoping that your training is leading you to the tour make sure you look out for our new online golf training program being launched in February Hard Core - Elite Golfer Improvement System (See below) which is based on Pro Tour Golf College’s tried and tested golf training program.
Here's some links to type into your browser and check out if home schooling is something you're interested in.
David Milne and Lawrie Montague - Pro Tour Golf College
Your Success On Tour is Our Business