In a few months, I may again decide to skip our annual PGA Spring meetings. Here is where golf pros from around the state gather and try and solve the problems with golf. Mostly just complain about them. Probably sounds like your business conventions. I would like to announce that pace is getting faster, clubs are getting cheaper, or the hole is getting bigger, but chances are: the news I return with won’t be that compeling.
People are curious what it takes to be a PGA Professional. There are many aspects, but here is the first:
- You Must Be Able To Play (Sort of…)
Those intending to become PGA must be able to pass a Player Ability Test know as the PAT. This one day, 36 hole tournament requires a player to shoot less than 15 strokes over the combined course rating for that particular set of tees. To be honest, they don’t set it up that tough. Another slang they use is “middle, middle”. Which means middle set of tees, middle pins. Doesn’t sound that tough right?
WRONG. You need to remember you are playing for your career. It’s kind of like a lawyer taking the bar exam so he can get into law school. That is pressure, huge pressure. The reality is, this acts as a filter. Lots of people would like to be PGA, but this clearly weeds out the pretenders. Some guys toil on the PAT Tour for years, some just give up. Since you are probably wondering: I passed on my first try.
What’s Changed to Become PGA?
As we know society has softened, and in handing out 8th place ribbons, the PGA was ahead of the curve. I’ve been PGA since 2003, but shortly after I was elected to membership, they changed the barrier to entry. If you took the PAT a couple times, and you couldn’t pass, but one of your 18 hole hole scores on one of the days was pretty good, they let you in. You just wouldn’t become a full member until you passed the PAT, but now you had a number of years to do it.
So what do you think happened then? No, that would not be like lawyers who couldn’t get into law school giving legal advice.