Does a Career in Golf Make Sense for You?

By Brian Hughes, PGA Master Professional

“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Mark Twain

The saying is a cliché, absolutely. But when it comes to combining your job with your passion, few careers would be better for this ideal than one in the golf business.

There are many avenues one can take in the golf industry. Teaching professional, general manager, sales, technology, and yes even tournament player – the list goes on and is only limited by the imagination. However, like anything that appears too good to be true, a career in the golf business is not all about spending time participating in a favorite pastime. There is work to be done along the way.

Examine if you will the Tournament Player golf job most all of us at some point would like to have. The idea of playing the best courses for large sums of cash is certainly appealing to us all. However, while not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, the odds of making a living in this particular aspect of golf are poor at best. The highest level of Tournament Golf, the PGA TOUR, has approximately 125 – 150 players eligible to participate in their weekly events. As a comparison, there are 750 players active on Major League Baseball rosters. In other words, there is a five times greater chance of being a MLB player than PGA TOUR player. So to quote the infamous Lloyd from the movie Dumb and Dumber: ‘So you’re telling me there’s a chance.’

Let’s get one thing clear from the start – EVERYONE who is in the business got started in the business for one reason – they like to play golf! The idea of being involved in a career we truly enjoy is a blessing to all of us involved in the golf industry. Those truly successful in their careers have realized along the way that real career growth occurs when taking the initial passion and turning it into something that is worthwhile and frankly, something someone will pay for. And aspiring TOUR player does not pay very well.

So how does one get a realistic career in golf started? Educating yourself on all the potential career options is a good place. Some self-evaluation is important as well. What can you see yourself doing? Where would you like to reside? What in life is important to you? Are there other things like family concerns to be placed ahead of career? The answers to these personal questions may in fact dictate which career path is even possible.

Be open to any ideas at first when contemplating your future career in golf. The more specific you are with your career choices and the more specific you are with where you wish to live can really limit your career options. If the side of the business you want to get into does not exist in your geographic area, it doesn’t matter how much you may want to pursue it. Try to determine which is important to you, location or job type.

No matter what avenue of golf you would like to pursue, the likelihood is that you’ll start at the bottom and work your way up, so if possible, try to put the money you would like to make aside for a minute. Whatever money you make at the outset will likely not satisfy you in the near future. Look for opportunities to grow within a career, and not just what you are doing at the start.

To bookend Mark Twain’s quote, the best advice I was ever given regarding choosing any career was this: Find something you like to do, fully develop your skills in that area, and you will get paid for your expertise. Unfortunately, this cycle does not work in reverse!