Amateurs' Drive to Professional Status Can Be Costly

In professional golf, at least on the men's side of the coin, tournament purses can be large and lucrative at some of the bigger tournaments throughout the year. Amateur golfers are immediately and appropriately drawn to joining the professional ranks for a shot at glory, history, and their share of the pot. As with any profession, the desire to achieve more is one that drives many individuals to strive for that "next level".

But can this same drive cause amateur golfers to forget why the started playing the game in the first place?

According to the Scotsman's Martin Dempster, the answer could be a resounding "Yes". As Dempster writes in a recent article on the subject, he details a conversation had with US Walker Cup captain Jim Holtgrieve on his decision to turn pro after a few years on the amateur circuit. 

"I went to play only for money and forgot about having fun," [Holtgrieve] said in one of his press conferences in Aberdeen.

On both the PGA and European golf tours, amateurs looking to "strike it rich" on a professional level have a long and sometimes winding road ahead. Qualifying school, the Nationwide Tour, and other mini-tours offer golfers the chance at playing their way into "the big leagues"; however, the costs associated with this journey can be rather pricey, even for those players with fatter wallets.

For example, the European Qualifying School welcomed some 800 entrants into stage one this past year, each of whom poneying up  £1,350 to compete. For the stage one competitors, 14 rounds stand between them and the 30 cards that will ultimately be awarded when the dust has settled and play has finished.

On the PGA TOUR side, Q-School isn't any cheaper. Rough estimates suggest that the total cost of this process can range anywhere between $3000 - $5000 when all is said and done, none of which guarentees the player's spot on TOUR.

For some, the awards are worth the price of admission. For others, the opportunity to showcase one's talents on a grand stage is equally as rewarding. For most, entry fees become mere donations due to falling short of achieving a lifelong goal. The gamble is evident, albeit necessary, in order to achieve something much greater.