College Golf: A Pathway to the Pro’s
There is new meaning to golf at the collegiate level.
The PGA Tour has created a direct pipeline from college golf to the Korn Ferry Tour. Going forward, the Top 5 college Seniors in the country will have a realistic chance of streamlining their way to the PGA Tour within a few months of finishing college.
College golf is changing right in front of our eyes.
ELIGIBILITY, REQUIREMENTS & RANKING
· A player must compete in NCAA D1
· A player must complete all 4 years in college *(not required to get a degree)
· A player must compete in at least 9 events in each of their final 2 years of college, 18 total
· Only Seniors will appear on the PGA Tour U ranking each year
· Official Ranking – based on WAGR #’s, weightings TBD
o Counting Events – College events and PGA Tour Events, including majors
o Non-Counting Events – Amateur events and non-PGA
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
A. Finish Top 5 – Korn Ferry status, exempt into 8-9 open full-field events, starting the NCAA Championship thru the final event of the current year Korn Ferry Tour, players will also be exempt into the final stage of Q-School (if needed)
B. Finish 6-15 – Earn status on PGA Tour Canada/Latin/China and also exempt thru 2nd stage of Q-School (if needed)
WHAT ARE OTHERS SAYING?
“It’s an exciting opportunity for college players to be able to earn some professional status because of good play on the course. Over the last few years, it’s clear that the top college players have games that can compete on tour so it’s nice they will be given an opportunity to compete in events without having to qualify or wait until the fall for Q-school. I think it’s definitely a great move by the PGA tour.”
Corey Connors, PGA Tour Player, Kent State University (2014)
“Looking back, PGA Tour U could have saved me 4 or 5 years getting to the PGA tour. The inclusion of PGA Tour U is a great move by the Tour and I fully support the idea of opening up the Korn Ferry Tour to top college Seniors, but obviously some tweaks and adjustments will need to be made as we progress forward. PGA Tour U will hopefully take an unbiased approach instead of only handing out exemptions to players with the strongest connections or the most qualified agents.”
Dylan Frittelli, PGA Tour Player, University of Texas (2011)
“I love the new PGA Tour U program. Rewarding the best college golfers will bring a new level of excitement to the Korn Ferry Tour and ultimately the PGA Tour, faster than ever. College golf is very strong, and college teams regularly play PGA Tour course setups. Yes, the Mid-Major players will need to win more head-to-head matchups and take advantage of weaker fields in college golf but ultimately the best players, regardless of their conference, will rise to the top”
Lanto Griffin, PGA Tour Player, VCU (2010)
In the PGA Tour U Golf Channel article by Brentley Romine a few top Coaches spoke out:
“This is an evolutionary step for college golf. It validates the hard work that everyone is putting in and celebrating guys playing really high-level golf and doing school at the same time.”
Stanford, Head Coach, Conrad Ray
“In other sports, there is a direct connection between college and the pros … we just haven’t had that”
Arizona State, Head Coach, Matt Thurmond
OTHER PATHWAYS TO THE PGA TOUR
· Korn Ferry Tour
· Korn Ferry Q-School
· PGA Tour Latino America
· PGA Tour Canada - Mackenzie
· PGA Tour China
· Sponsor’s Exemptions
· European Tour
· Challenge Tour
· Other tours across the world
In the past, we’ve seen a trend of top college players leaving college, vanishing from the spotlight, then emerging on the big stage a few years later. This is mainly because of the complexity and difficulty of the PGA Tour qualifying process. This particular trend has become a real concern for college coaches, many of whom who have players questioning whether they should forgo their final year(s) of college in lieu of starting their pro careers at an earlier age.
While it’s too early to tell if the emergence of the new ranking will put more focus on the top college golfers and keep them in school for 4 years, I believe this is a great move by the PGA Tour and will prove to be advantageous for the up and coming stars of the next generation and their pathway to the PGA Tour.
Thanks for reading,
Michael J. Smith
ForeCollegeGolf is a college placement and recruiting business where Mike aims to apply his background in competitive golf and recruiting education to help educate players, their families, and coaches about the college recruiting process.