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The Difference Between a Club Pro and a Pro Golfer

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Omar Uresti recently won the PGA Professional Championship. The victory caused quite an uproar due to the fact that Uresti has spent a good part of his life as a playing professional golfer, with nearly 400 starts on the PGA Tour.

Before we allow for differences of opinion on this subject, we should note that the fault, if there is one, is not Uresti’s. He was perfectly in his right to play, because he’s qualified by the bylaws of the PGA of America, the organization that conducted the event. The question on many people’s mind is should Uresti, or any former or current touring professional, be allowed to compete against full-time club professionals?

As a lifetime club pro, I’m of course biased, but I do not believe that golfers who play the game for a living exclusively should be allowed to compete against club professionals. Club professionals are employed by a club for the purpose of running the operation, teaching, directing tournament operations, or any other duties the club requires. They are employees of the club and their primary duties include any of the above. Professional golfers, by comparison, are independent contractors whose sole concern is their game. The vast majority of their days are dedicated entirely to practicing and playing golf.  Therein lies the difference and hence the controversy; it’s simply not a level playing field.

Omar Uresti played the PGA Tour, albeit without a win or lasting status, for many years.  No matter, he was never and is still not a club pro. “Giving free tips to the members where I play and practice,” as he says he does, does not qualify one to be a club professional. The 28,000 men and women golf professionals who are, as the PGA of America puts it, “dedicated to establishing and elevating the standards of the profession and growing interest and participation in the game of golf” should have their own championship, plain and simple.

Uresti’s talent speaks for itself. Anyone who can earn a living entirely on their golf skills is playing this game at a level many people do not understand. That level is well above the average club pro, and even above the development tours. Just tee it up sometime with a professional golfer and you’ll see a game of which you’re not familiar. The power, the touch, the deft putting; it’s awesome to observe.

On a personal note, I played with Tiger Woods one day, and as amazing as it was, I was quickly reminded why I teach the game and not play it for a living. We could take it one step further and compare the Web.com Tour players to PGA Tour players, and while the difference may not be as obvious, there IS a difference. It’s one flubbed chip, one hooked tee shot out of bounds, or one missed putt in a round.

Players of Uresti’s caliber have plenty of events around the world and play for plenty of money. They should not be allowed to compete against club pros who, by definition, do not and cannot play for a living.

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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He now directs his own school, The Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the Marco Island Marriott in Naples, Fla.. He can be reached at dennisclarkgolf@gmail.com

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76 Comments

76 Comments

  1. Mark

    Jul 5, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    Not true at all. Two examples that disprove your theory: Greg Norman and Larry Nelson. They both took the game up “late” in life in terms of putting in the hours to be a tour professional. Norman played other sports before taking up golf, in which he became a scratch golfer very quickly. Nelson did not take up golf until after serving a tour of duty in Vietnam. Plus, there are plenty of college players and mini tour players that put in tons of practice hours but never make it on tour.

  2. Russell

    Jun 30, 2017 at 8:52 am

    You can’t have it both ways, your either a pro or amateur! Take your medicine and stop whining

    You could win a get a naff golf bag 🙁

  3. Devilsadvocate

    Jun 30, 2017 at 1:59 am

    Oh yea? Look up the guy who tried to practice golf for 10k hours and see where that got him… takes more than time it takes talent… tour pros have the talent

  4. SS

    Jun 29, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    There is a simple way to end this. The PGA should get rid of A-3 classification. If touring pro’s really want to play in our national, section and chapter events then they can enter into the PGM program and work at a PGA recognized facility for what usually amounts to 60+ hours a week for very little pay and barely enough time to hit balls or even play golf. Mind you on top of insane work hours you will still need to complete 3-5 years of level 1-2 and 3 book work. Guys like Omar get to hit balls and play golf all day every day and for some reason he gets to wear the same badge that so many of us busted our rear ends to earn. I challenge him to do any of the most basic of tasks. How about log into TPP and set up a member/guest tournament. Good luck!

    • TG

      Jul 2, 2017 at 5:30 pm

      From one club pro to another….This is the greatest comment of all time! TPP is a blessing and a curse but there is no way that any of the tour players could could set up a tourny or purchase merchandise and have to deal with the invoices while trying to run a league at the same time.

  5. ooffa

    Jun 29, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    That’s not true!

  6. Marc

    Jun 29, 2017 at 11:57 am

    As a PGA of America Class A professional I am perfectly fine with Omar winning the PNC at Sunriver. I can admit when I got beat (played poorly enough to not even make the cut out there). The guys who are whining about Omar winning are the same guys who whine about the guys in their section who win mostly everything and every one of the 41 sections has these players. Common things I hear are “they must be playing everyday”, “they must do nothing but practice all day”, “they don’t spend any time in the shop or running tournaments’, etc, etc. Been hearing this for years and I’m only 31. The guys who are better players are by and large good players because they either a) have been a good player for a very long time regardless whether they spent time on a major tour or not, b) make their game one of their priorities by taking the time the vast majority of PGA professionals do not take or c) have access to facilities/personnel to be able to take that next step of golf ability. I can give several examples of A just in my section or neighboring MET section alone but I firmly believe and have personally witnessed B over and over so many times it is almost depressing. Yes the golf business is not as much fun as everyone outside it thinks it is. Yes there are long hours. Yes you do not have the time to devote to your own game that one would like. But the guys who are good players (yes even the ones who are former touring professionals and there are plenty of them) have to constantly work on their games or risk falling by the wayside. Contrary to the opinion of these article which basically claims every club pro is a hack, there are some very good players in every section. Bad players are afraid someone is going to take their money “unfairly”. Good players welcome the challenge as it only elevates their game.

  7. DK

    Jun 29, 2017 at 10:33 am

    There really should be a separate classification for club pros who are ‘playing pros’. These would be the guys/girls ineligible to play in amateur events. I really don’t understand why we cannot have PGA members who maintain amateur status? You have all the benefits of the PGA (you know, like your free magazine) but don’t compete for prize money.

  8. The dude

    Jun 29, 2017 at 5:50 am

    $1 says OU will be playing the champions Tour in 2 years

    • justin case

      Jun 29, 2017 at 7:35 pm

      That will be a tuff go. They give a limited number of cards out and if you do not earn one, you will not be playing. No road to the Champions unless a former player has made at least 15M in their PGA Tour career or you play well enough to get one of the cards at Qschool.

  9. Jalan

    Jun 28, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    Do you also believe someone who played as a professional should never be able to regain his amateur status? If, as you say, playing pros are on a completely different level than club pros, and you cite their responsibilities as pros as a reason. If this holds true, then how can pros justifiably be allowed to return to amateur status. Their games haven’t changed. Yet, many pros club, mini tour etc. do just that.

    Either you are a professional, or you aren’t. If you don’t like the rules, petition to have them changed. However, until that happens, I don’t think it’s fair or decent of you to complain and criticize someone in a public forum.

  10. Chris Hansen

    Jun 28, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    It would seem the question is, if it’s open only to club pros, how did OU qualify under that status?

    Seems like we’ve glossed over that detail to support the Mr. Clark’s argument, but it’s worth mentioning.

    Mr Clark is fundamentally sound, however – this would be like the varsity player being allowed to compete at the JV level.

    I went to a private high school in New England that had a nationally ranked hockey team. My Sophomore year, our best player made the 1984 Olympic team as a starting center. He was already an amazing player in HS, and this was in a a HIGHLY competitive league that routinely graduated kids with full-ride scholarships @ D1 schools and NHL contracts. When this kid came back form the Olympics mid-season, they allowed him to play, but put him on Defense. He scored 8 goals his first game and they had no choice but to bench him for the rest of the season.

    There is no comparison when you’re talking about athletic performance at this level.

  11. dennis clark

    Jun 28, 2017 at 9:56 pm

    Authors note: I’m pushing 70 years young so there is NO personal animosity or bitterness just a suggestion to the PGA. FYI, A-3 members pay minimal dues, have no continuing education requirements and no club affiliation or responsibilities. The point is lets have a national championship for guys who work a club for a living. Just sayin…

    • peterpro

      Jul 2, 2017 at 11:47 pm

      Thankyou…… the PGA should eliminate the A3 member…. it is not fair they do not have any education or emplyment requirements like all the other members????

  12. moses

    Jun 28, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Omar Uresti was once a top 100 player. Geez why don’t we let the likes of Tiger and other former #1s do the same thing that Uresti did. Yes that would be just awesome.

  13. larry

    Jun 28, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    I see my teaching pro on the range at the club 50 -60 hours a week and he’s supposed to compete with guys like Omar and Small who play and practice all day? Great article Dennis and it’s a joke that those guys can play in tournaments like this against guys who actually work all day.

  14. Rwj

    Jun 28, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    Should tour pros be able to play in a club championship? By this authors tone, they shouldn’t. They play golf for a living, then come to the club to beat the everyday members for a club championship

  15. Simon

    Jun 28, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    Perhaps the current rules don’t capture the intent of the PGA tournament being run by and for club pros. However if a pro formerly played on tour, but is now plying his trade as a club pro, how would you react? Surely those pro golfers who don’t quite make it on tour usually go back to being teaching pros at golf clubs. What is the problem there? Even if they had extensive experience on professional tours, they are still club pros now. It sounds like Uresti isn’t in this category, but I don’t think you are going to eliminate the problem completely by confining qualifying to club pros only.

  16. Shortside

    Jun 28, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    Completely agree. I was wondering why the rules hadn’t been changed.

  17. JC

    Jun 28, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    The PGA is a labor union and they hate anyone or anything that threatens their way of life.

  18. Stephen T

    Jun 28, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    2nd place guy won a tourney for $100K first place last year – 3rd place has 2 W’s on the Web.com tour – maybe by the time we get to 9th place we will get someone acceptable to the author??

  19. Old Putter

    Jun 28, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Pros break par, club pros should be able to break par…
    stop whining

  20. Jerry Dussel

    Jun 28, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    I was a professional golfer for a few years but couldn’t make it so I just bought my amateur status back from the USGA for $34 and won some decent am tournaments

  21. Paul McMillan

    Jun 28, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Dennis,
    You cant have it both ways.
    If I was a member of the PGA I am a member regardless of what I do as a golfer. Club pros and touring pros are just the same-pros. Some are better than others so they make a higher income touring the tournaments. There are abundant examples of club pros and assistant pros making a highly successful career on the tour. Ian Poulter springs to mind immediately. I would also argue that many touring pros on the lower circuits and the lower end of the PGA and other world tours earn significantly less than some senior pros in the exclusive clubs of the US.

    • Jam

      Jun 29, 2017 at 1:44 pm

      What are you even talking about? Club pros are not the same as touring pros. Club pros have to work in the golf industry, touring pros only have to work on their own game. It’s night and day different. The issue is that there are work requirements that touring pros don’t have to adhere to.

  22. ROY

    Jun 28, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    It was a phenomenal day for one lucky golfer at Sunnybrook Golf Club.

    One hundred thirty-seven professionals and 11 amateurs teed off Tuesday at the Haverford Trust Philadelphia PGA Classic, but only one man took home the $100,000 grand prize – the largest prize of any one-day local PGA tournament in the country. (From June 2016)

    Seems 2nd place finisher has won more that Omar here lately – Maybe he should not have been allowed to play

    • bms

      Jun 28, 2017 at 9:58 pm

      But Roy he was completing again club pros like myself not touring pros

      • ROY

        Jun 29, 2017 at 10:31 am

        Third place has 2 Web.com victories, 5th place has made 2 of 3 cuts in PGA tour events this year. These are guys still playing at an elite level – not against guys running scramples and selling merchandise

  23. leo vincent

    Jun 28, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Omar Uresti has no status on any major pro tour.It’s not like Dustin Johnson going out and beating up on club pro’s.Also he is not exactly in his prime at 48 yrs old.He should be allowed to play

    • Jam

      Jun 28, 2017 at 4:22 pm

      It has nothing to do with being in someone’s prime, it’s the fact that he doesn’t work in the golf industry. He plays golf full-time. Everyone else has to maintain certain hours at a job within the industry.

  24. David Hueber, Ph.D.

    Jun 28, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Dennis,

    You made a number of valid points in your article, “The Difference Between a Club Pro and A Pro Golfer.” I am sympathetic because of my PGA roots…my dad was a club pro. However, I also worked for the PGA TOUR back in the day when the PGA TOUR and the PGA got divorced and remarried over who was going to control the brand name, PGA. The final settlement was that they would share it. PGA TOUR Properties was created to segregate and market both brands. At the heart of the issue was the access of PGA members to the PGA TOUR. As part of that agreement, the Tournament Players Series was created to provide greater access for PGA members to play professional golf and the number of spots for PGA members on the PGA TOUR was reduced. Lastly, 20 PGA members would be eligible to play in the PGA Championship and former PGA TOUR members would be eligible to play in PGA events. In my opinion, it probably makes sense to have some time period before PGA TOUR members can play PGA events, just as the USGA does before former PGA TOUR can regain their amateur status.

    • farmer

      Jun 28, 2017 at 8:16 pm

      Hogan had a job as a head pro at various country clubs prior to WW2. Very common in those days.

  25. M Singleton

    Jun 28, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    As a former PGA Professional, I feel like this article was a waste of my time. Omar Uresti has every right to compete in this event. It’s funny reading some of the ridiculous comments made. There’s always at least one sore loser in the crowd. It’s more than unfair to point fingers at Omar because of his role at a club. I would bet there are many in this event who are “vanity pros” who entertain their members with their games, connections to exclusive clubs, etc.. It was not a shock to see comments made about Mike Small. Come on people! Omar and Mike are obviously talented, and have chosen to be club pros – IT’S THEIR CHOICE! It doesn’t matter how many events they have competed in. There are rules established for those wishing to be reinstated to amateur status. There are no rules for tour pros becoming club pros. Club pros play in many PGA Tour/web.com tour events each year. Reminds me of golfers who say teams weren’t fair because we didn’t win. Thanks for giving me a great laugh…

    • Jam

      Jun 29, 2017 at 1:48 pm

      You don’t get it. How is Omar a club pro? He doesn’t do anything but work on his own game. He is exactly the same (minus the nominal annual dues) as a college kid who just graduated and turns pro. They both work on their own game only and play in the tournaments they can.

  26. Rick Kimbrell

    Jun 28, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Like it or not, Uresti qualified under the current rules as they are written. He should be allowed to play. Looks like the PGA needs to take a look at the qualifications and make some changes. Until they do, other “club pros” in similar situations to Uresti can try to take advantage of the rules as they are written today. Just like in the Rules of Golf…sometimes you can use them to your advantage and other times you get penalized. Uresti used the PGA qualification rules to his advantage.

  27. JJVas

    Jun 28, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    Welcome Dennis and other PGA members! This is what we working Am’s get to do in club championships, state and regional Am’s, and my favorite, the new and unimproved mid-am, where I get to play against 25-year old (instead of 30-year old) former pros. Again, welcome!

  28. Jim

    Jun 28, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Let me know when he doesn’t touch his own clubs for a week and a half before the 3 day memeber guest, helps wash golf cars or load bags more than once a season…or plays first 10 rounds of the season with half a brain plugged in because he’s training kids to be caddies.

    There are still elite clubs that value competitive pros, assistants and teachers who are practically immune from operational duties who play virtually everyday, every week in section events and every pro-am with members…God bless em. Good work if you can get it. I’m in probably the best section for that, but I can tell you we lost 60+% of THOSE jobs during the crash, and still have NOT fully recovered.
    Someone would raise this issue in section meetings about “who actually WORKED as an assistant” rather than a semi-sponsored full time player, and would be routinely shot down by the director or board…

    (no doubt most of whom hoped they might get that gig one day)…

    • Jim

      Jun 28, 2017 at 2:23 pm

      …there’s also an entirely different ability to perform in front of the world as opposed to a few hundred people – many of whom you recognize.

      There’s been more than a few guys who couldn’t quite make that transition. ‘Someone I knew’ used to play often with an assistant at one of the nicest toughest courses around and even as a legit +2 would get creamed there, Winged Foot – any of the best tri-state courses they’d get to play as guests.

      The shark in the story won a few pretty notable (not PGA) events and absolutely earned spots in a couple tour events.

      I played with him @ one of the most famed NE courses – with ‘one foot in the rough’ from the blacks where he shot a 63 and crushed us – not 2 weeks before carding 86/NC in the big show…

      I beleive that if he had some kinda ‘Bad Hair Wimberly’ big time sponsor for a year to not do anything but travel, play & practice, he could if absolutely made a fine living on tour

    • JC

      Jun 28, 2017 at 9:07 pm

      Union guys hate free market guys….

  29. Bob Parsons

    Jun 28, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    College coaches are glorified recruiters and chaperones. Mike Small is only allowed to compete due to the Illinois PGA granting college coaches PGA Member Status. He should NOT be competing against club pros.

  30. Tim Rice

    Jun 28, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    If club pro’s can’t compete with PGA tour pro’s, then why bother allowing them entry into the PGA Championship?

    • Bob Parsons

      Jun 28, 2017 at 12:56 pm

      Same reason Augusta National lets the Mid-Am Champ in every year… Because they make the rules and they say so. Before this year no Mid-Am Champ had ever made the cut. Just so happens Hagestad (former USC Trojan) plays every day and “works in finance”.

      • ROY

        Jun 28, 2017 at 3:07 pm

        HOw many club pros made the cut in the last 2 or 3 PGA’s??

  31. Scott

    Jun 28, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    At least you see head to head how a club pro stacks up. Sure, it is a feel good story to let them into the PGA, but they have zero chance. You might as well hand out exemptions to the club pros that sell the most merch or do the most charity work.

  32. N. D. Boondocks

    Jun 28, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Mostly, I would like to know WHY Omar wanted to play in this. A cynic would say he just finally wanted to win ‘something’. I’m not a great golfer, but I can play decently. I can assure you I wouldn’t get any satisfaction at all by beating a beginner in a head-to-head match. And that’s kind of the ability difference this author is pointing to.

    • Duh

      Jun 28, 2017 at 1:59 pm

      How about a spot into the PGA championship, for a start.

      • BJ

        Jun 29, 2017 at 10:08 am

        Exactly.

        And a good finish in the PGA Championship can start the ball rolling to get his career re-booted.

  33. Patricknorm

    Jun 28, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Excellent article. This is simply a PGA tour pro taking advantage of the nuanced rules.
    Yes, there are a handful of working club professionals who might occasionally have the game to briefly compete against a seasoned tour pro. These club pros qualify to play the PGA championships each summer. It’s a reward for their dedication and skill to the game and yet they all have full time club duties.
    If a club pro was good enough, committed enough and financially stable to compete in 30 events each season, then they would. You just have to accept that a top 150 touring pro is far ahead of a club pro.

  34. KoreanSlumLord

    Jun 28, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Nowadays club pros are pro shop shirt stackers who hardly play. Things have changed so much since I took the game up in the 80’s. I tell my friends and family to steer clear of the club pros for lessons and to see independent coaches if they want to bring their game to the next level. I wish things were not this way, but I miss the days when the club pros were out every day giving lessons on the tee and playing lessons on the course. The club pros are inside now.

    • TR1PTIK

      Jun 28, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      Not sure where you are seeing this because I know for a fact that my club pro is very busy. Perhaps this could be true at private country clubs where drumming up business is not the primary or sole responsibility of the pro, but every public course pro I’ve spoken with stays busy. They have far too much to do to keep dollars flowing in and engaging with the local community.

  35. BJ

    Jun 28, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Personally, I’d draw the line this way: If you had status on the PGA Tour or European Tour in the past 5 years or played in 12 or more combined events on the PGA Tour, European Tour, Web.com Tour, or Challenge Tour in any calendar year in the past 3 years, you are not allowed to compete in the CPC. And if you’ve won any event that awards OWGR points in the past ten years, you are ineligible.

    Additionally, CPC competitors must have a legitimate job at a PGA recognized facility or coach collegiate golf.

    I think that’s a pretty simple fix that eliminates most of the problems.

    If a web.com player legit retires from competing and starts folding shirts for five years, then plays, that’s fine.

  36. Jam

    Jun 28, 2017 at 11:59 am

    I agree, I used to be in the golf business and watched a current web.com player dust the rest of us in our State Open. Must have been fun and challenging for him. I think the issue isn’t whether someone used to play on the tour or not, but that they should be employed and meet the minimum hours everyone else is held to. The fact that his only job is working on his game, while everyone else is folding shirts and making tee times makes it feel askew. I agree with the Mike Small argument too, that job doesn’t make sense to me either. He coaches and fund raises for approximately 10 players. I’m not sure how that job is remotely like that of an assistant class A professional who runs junior camps and member-guest tournaments.

  37. Kim

    Jun 28, 2017 at 11:47 am

    This is very similar to professional golfers regaining their amateur status and then competing against amateurs who have full time careers not in golf. The former professional will have dedicated many years to just playing and competing and that is not the same as working 40 hours per week at another job and playing/practicing on weekends and dark evenings. I wonder what Dennis Clark thinks about that.

    • Flatstick

      Jun 28, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      Yes. There are ‘professional’ amateurs and it’s nearly impossible to consistently hang with them. Sounds like Uresti is a ‘professional’ club pro. Same concept. Theroot question is what drives the definition? Status or occupation?

  38. TG65

    Jun 28, 2017 at 11:28 am

    Dennis, I agree with your “complaint” about ex-Tour Players competing against Club Pros. By extension of your argument, Club Pros should not be allowed to play in the PGA Championship unless they qualify as any other player must. It is crazy to allow 20 inferior (according to your own statements) players to compete in one of golf’s four majors.

  39. Jacked_Loft

    Jun 28, 2017 at 11:20 am

    Have to agree with you on this. Our club pros can strike it good, but just can’t score as good as a full timer. Kind of like top NCAA or Walker Cup players showing up at the Thursday afternoon men’s pickup.

  40. Judge Smeills

    Jun 28, 2017 at 11:20 am

    I dont get it, most good club pro players are former mini tour players

    Mike Small played a number of years on the PGA and Web.com tours. He now coaches college players but I am sure he plays a lot of competitive rounds with his players

    If Mike had won instead of Omar would you have written the same article?

  41. jason01

    Jun 28, 2017 at 11:14 am

    He is well within his rights to play, How many times has Mike Small won and no gripe at all. He also played for a living before his coaching job.

  42. Trip

    Jun 28, 2017 at 11:10 am

    This is how nearly all us mid-ams feel when playing against former pros that have regained their amateur status. Welcome to the club.

    • Flatstick

      Jun 28, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      Yep

    • Eric

      Jun 29, 2017 at 12:08 am

      Exactly. The mid-am tournaments have turned into the “best college players that didn’t turn pro” opens. Hard to compete against guys who basically still play golf for a living while you’re punching a clock 9-5. We all know these cats. They sell insurance, work in “finance”, sell real estate, or are “entrepreneurs.” When really they spend 8 hrs a day at the club wearing penny loafers with no socks and eating every meal from the club kitchen.

    • larrybud

      Jun 29, 2017 at 11:10 am

      Bingo. It’s not “fair” that I work a regular job and compete against guys playing every day! (Note, I believe it’s perfectly “fair”).

  43. surewin73

    Jun 28, 2017 at 11:07 am

    Omar is a dues paying member of the PGA of America since 1993. He should be allow to play and am I glad that he is. Congratulations to him.

    Club professional come in multiple sizes. Some work very hard for very little, while others do very little and command much.

    So what should disqualify him? Playing on the PGA Tour. Playing on any professional tour. How about one event?

    You just sound bitter, Dennis.

    If you and other PGA professional are upset, he won. Let me share some advice my pro gave me.
    Just practice harder at your craft and play better.

    Geez!

    Another reason, I dislike the PGA of America and some of its members.

    • E

      Jun 28, 2017 at 11:23 am

      WUM hater

    • mike

      Jun 28, 2017 at 11:39 am

      a 400 plus pga tournament player and a local club pro are extremely different things, and as the writer says, its not Omar that is in the wrong, its eligibility that needs to and based on alot of the uproar this has caused probably will change. So put the Hater-ade down buds

    • TR1PTIK

      Jun 28, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      Obviously, you didn’t read very far into it or simply chose to take what you wanted. Dennis makes some very good points and I agree with him that perhaps there are some events where Tour Pros and Club Pros could/should compete against each other, but Club Pros do not have the time to practice like Tour Pros. More importantly, it is indeed a fact that Uresti is not a Club Pro. He holds professional status with the PGA of America, but the two are very different. The vast majority of Club Pros are too busy running a business operation to practice as much as someone like Uresti. It isn’t his fault that he has the means to not work at a club and practice however much he’d like to, but it is wrong for the PGA to allow him to compete against those who are not afforded the same opportunity. How about we just put you on the basketball court with Lebron, Curry, or Durant and see how you fare against them…

      • surewin73

        Jun 29, 2017 at 11:48 am

        TR1PTIK: I did read his entire article. Omar is a professional golfer who played on tour and also hold PGA status as a teaching pro. He is playing within the rules set forth by the PGA, so he should be able to play.

        I think it is simple case of jealous and bitterness to write, in my opinion, one side article complaining about. Mr. Clark should bring his concerns and thoughts to the PGA not a public forum in this matter.

        Do you have a problem with a professional who regains his amateur status and competes in amateur tournaments. I don’t. To me, he/she is following the guidelines set forth by the governing organization. They are fine. Fact is they are just a better golfer. Does not mean they are always going to win. Just like Omar has not won National Championship every year.

    • Sven Olsen

      Jun 28, 2017 at 12:14 pm

      I fully agree!
      Here in Scandinavia – at least – many club pros are former tour players, so it seems to me, this is a case of sour grapes?

      • setter02

        Jun 28, 2017 at 6:32 pm

        Not really if they are now working as Club Pro’s. He’s only working on his game and nothing else. Even if its written he did nothing wrong, clearly the spirit of the event was tainted, but then again this is golf, a lot is tainted…

    • bms

      Jun 28, 2017 at 10:02 pm

      compete i mean sorry

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Courses

Coming Up: A Big Golf Adventure

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My name is Jacob Sjöman, and I’m a 35-year-old golf photographer who also enjoys the game we all love. I will be sharing some experiences here on a big golf trip that we are doing. With me I’ve got my friend Johan. I will introduce him properly later, but he is quite a funny character. According to Johan, he is the best golf photo assistant in the world, and we will see about that since this is probably his biggest test yet doing this trip. Previously on our trips, Johan almost got us killed in Dubai with a lack of driving skills. He also missed a recent evening photo shoot in Bulgaria while having a few beers to many… and that’s not all.

Anyway, the last couple of days I’ve been packing my bags over and over. I came home from the Canary Islands this Sunday and I’ve been constantly checking and rechecking that we’ve got all the required equipment, batteries, and that the cameras are 100 percent functional and good to go for this golf trip. I’m still not sure, but in a couple of minutes I will be sitting in a taxi to the airport and there will be no turning back.

Where are we going then? We are going to visit some of the very best golf courses in New Zealand and Australia. There will be breathtaking golf on cliffsides, jaw-dropping scenic courses, and some hidden gems. And probably a big amount of lost balls with a lot of material produced in the end.

I couldn’t be more excited for a golf journey like this one. Flying around the globe to these special golf courses I’ve only dreamed about visiting before gives me a big kick and I feel almost feel like a Indiana Jones. The only thing we’ve got in common, though, is that we don’t like snakes. Australia seems to be one of the worst destinations to visit in that purpose, but all the upsides are massive in this.

First, we will take off from a cold Stockholm (it’s raining heavily outside at the moment) and then we will do our first stop at Doha in Quatar. Then after two more hours, we are finally heading off to Auckland on the north island of New Zealand, a mega-flight of 16 hours. I believe that could very well be one of the longest flights available for a ordinary airplane. I need to check that.

Flights for me usually mean work, editing photos from different golf courses I’ve visited, writing some texts, editing some films, and planning for the future. Last time, though, I finally managed to sleep a little, which is a welcome progress for a guy that was deadly scared of flying until 2008.

Now, I am perfectly fine with flying. A few rocky flights over the Atlantic Sea to Detroit helped me a lot, and my motto is now, “If those flights got me down on the ground safely, it takes a lot of failures to bring down a plane.”

Anyway, I hope you will join me on this golf trip. Stay tuned!

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Opinion & Analysis

Be Curious, Not Critical, of Tour Player Swings

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After a foul ball by a tour player, the talking heads on TV are often quick to analyze the “problem” with that swing. Fair enough, I suppose. Even the best players are human and our game has more failure than success. But I’d like to offer a different take on swings of the best players in the world.

First, let’s remember how good these guys and gals really are. If you met up with the lowest ranked player on any professional tour at a public course one day, I’ll bet that golfer would be the best golfer most of you have ever played with. You’d be telling your buddies in the 19th hole about him or her for a very long time. These players have reached a level of ball striking most people only dream about. That’s why I’m more curious than critical when it comes to a tour player’s swing. I’m not thinking about what he/she needs to do better; I’m thinking, “How do they do it so well?” In other words, I want to know how they put their successful move together. What part goes with the other parts? How did their pattern evolve? What are the compatible components of their swing?

Let’s use Jim Furyk as an example. Furyk has what we might call an “unconventional” move. It’s also a swing that has won nearly $70 million and shot 58 one day. But I’ll offer him as an example because his swing illustrates the point I’m making. From a double-overlapping grip, Furyk picks the golf club up to what might be the most vertical position one would ever see from a professional. Then in transition, he flattens the club and drops it well behind him. Now the club is so flat and inside, he has to open his body as quickly as he can to keep the club from getting “stuck.” Let’s call it an “up-and-under loop.”

Let’s take Matt Kuchar as a counter example. Kuchar’s signature hands-in, flat and very deep takeaway is pretty much the total opposite of Furyk. But he comes over that takeaway and gets the club back into a great position into impact. We’ll call that an “in-and-over” loop.

Both are two of the best and most consistent golfers in the world. Is one right and the other wrong? Of course not. They do have one thing in common, however, and it’s that they both balanced their golf swing equation.

What would happen if Kuchar did what Furyk does coming down? Well, he wouldn’t be on TV on the weekend. If he did, he’d be hitting drop kicks several inches behind. That doesn’t win The Players Championship. The point is that the Furyk downswing is incompatible with the Kuchar backswing, and vice versa, but I’m guessing they both know that.

How can this help you? My own personal belief and the basis of my teaching is this: your backswing is an option, but your downswing is a requirement. I had one student today dropping the arms and club well inside and another coming over the top, and they both felt better impact at the end of the lesson. I showed them how to balance their equation.

My job is solving swing puzzles, a new one very hour, and I’m glad it is. It would be mind-numbing boredom if I asked every golfer to do the same thing. It’s the teaching professional’s job to solve your puzzle, and I assure you that with the right guidance you can make your golf swing parts match. Are there universal truths, things that every golfer MUST do?  Yes, they are the following:

  1. Square the club face
  2. Come into the ball at a good angle
  3. Swing in the intended direction
  4. Hit the ball in the center of the face (method be damned!)

But here’s the funny part: Let Kuchar or Furyk get off base and watch every swing critic in the world blame some part of the quirkiness of their move that has led to their greatness. When players at their level get off their game, it’s generally due to poor timing or that they lost the sync/rhythm that connected their individual parts. The same holds true for all of us. We have to find the matching parts and the timing to connect them. You might not need new parts.

After all, weren’t those same parts doing the job when you shot your career low round?

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Opinion & Analysis

The numbers behind “full scholarships” in NCAA men’s college golf

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If you are in the world of junior golf, you’ve probably heard about a young man you know who’s getting that coveted full ride to college, maybe even to a Power-5 school. With all the talk in junior golf about full scholarships, and a lot of rumors about how many are available, we decided to poll coaches and gather some real data about “full scholarships.”

So, what did we find out? In total, we got responses to a voluntary online survey from 61 men’s D1 coaches, 19 men’s D2 coaches and 3 NAIA coaches (83 total). On average, the coaches in the survey had 11.8 years of coaching experience. Of the coaches that responded, 58 of the 83 coaches reported having zero players on full ride. Another 15 coaches surveyed reported having one player on full ride. This means that 69 percent of the coaches surveyed reported zero players on full scholarship and 18 percent reported one player on full scholarship, while another four coaches reported that 20 percent of their team was on full ride and six coaches reported between 2-3 players on full ride.

We then asked coaches, “what percent of golfers in Division 1 do you think have full scholarships based on your best guess?” Here’s what the responses looked like: 25 coaches said 5 percent and 36 coaches said 10 percent. This means that 73 percent of respondents suggested that, in their opinion, in men’s Division 1, Division 2 and NAIA, there are less than 10 percent of players on full ride.

Next, we asked coaches, “what was a fair scholarship percentage to offer a player likely to play in your top 5?” The average of the 83 responses was 62.5 percent scholarship with 38 coaches (46 percent) suggesting they would give 30-50 percent and 43 coaches (52 percent) suggesting 50-75 percent. Only two coaches mentioned full scholarship.

The last question we asked coaches, was “what would you need to do to earn a full scholarship?”

  • Top-100 in NJGS/Top-250 in WAGR – 41 coaches (49 percent)
  • 250-700 in WAGR – 19 coaches (23 percent)
  • Most interesting, 17 coaches (20 percent) noted that they either did not give full rides or did not have the funding to give full rides.

The findings demonstrate that full rides among players at the men’s Division 1, Division 2 and NAIA levels are rare, likely making up less than 10 percent of total players. It also suggests that if you are a junior player looking for a full ride, you need to be exceptional; among the very best in your class.

Please note that the survey has limitations because it does not differentiate between athletic and academic money. The fact is several institutions have a distinct advantage of being able to “stack” academic and athletic aid to create the best financial packages. My intuition suggests that the coaches who responded suggesting they have several players on “full rides” are likely at places where they are easily able to package money. For example, a private institution like Mercer might give a student $12,000 for a certain GPA and SAT. This might amount to approximately 25 percent, but under the NCAA rules it does not count toward the coach’s 4.5 scholarships. Now for 75 percent athletic, the coach can give a player a full ride.

Maybe the most interesting finding of the data collection is the idea that many programs are not funded enough to offer full rides. The NCAA allows fully funded men’s Division 1 programs to have 4.5 scholarships, while Division 2 programs are allowed 3.6. My best guess suggests that a little more than 60 percent of men’s Division 1 programs have this full allotment of scholarship. In Division 2, my guess is that this number is a lot closer to 30 percent.

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