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Opinion & Analysis

How much does it cost to chase the dream of playing pro golf?



The 30-and-under crowd is taking over a sport which once represented a very different demographic.

This particular age group, also affectionately referred to as millennials, tend to show a strong enthusiasm for the occupation of “entrepreneur.” Could this be why so many golfers are now pursuing the dream of playing professionally? The lifestyle closely mimics that of a budding startup–though instead of laying the groundwork for a business, you are marketing a more personal product: your own game.

Not unlike the life of an entrepreneur, there are many expenses associated with the first few years of growth. Life on the mini tour is expensive and doesn’t guarantee returns; if your score isn’t in the red, your bank account most definitely will be. So how much must a player invest in order to chase their dream? The odds are slim, but for those who achieve status as a professional player, the rewards are abundant.

One example of this is Boris Stantchev, a California native who began his professional golf career in 2014. Finances are often a source of anxiety, especially when your income relies heavily on consistent performance in a game that is so often unpredictable.

“I’m currently looking for a sponsor,” Stantchev said. “It’s important to be around the right people when chasing your dream, but those that don’t have a sponsor do what they can to play in as many events as they can afford. I work outside service at the golf course down the street and rely on tip money to help pay for tournaments. It’s a decent way to save money and play some events in the summer months, but it’s not enough income to fund a full schedule.”

Let’s assume our player has a 30-week schedule planned, as well as Qualifying School. We have to factor in memberships to each mini tour that she (or he) plans to join–membership isn’t required, but the price break per tournament is significant. With that in mind, we’ll account for a tournament every other week within our 30-week calendar. Tournament fees range from $250-$850, so 15 tournaments at about $550 a pop sets our budget at $8,250.

Tack on Pre-qualifying, which is the first phase of Q-school. This costs between $2,700 and $3,500 depending on when you sign up, so we’ll be optimistic and plan for the former fee. This brings our total to $10,950. If our player isn’t one of the three percent that will advance through all four stages this year, s/he’ll have to pay the same entry fee on his/her next attempt (ouch).

We’ve paid for our schedule at this point, but what about other living expenses? Rent, food, and access to a gym are a given; so at about $1,000 a month, these bump our budget to $18,450.

Let’s assume that our player gets to practice at a facility free of expense–we need to factor in flights to and from each event, as well as travel fees while they are there. About $250 per flight, plus a car to and from the course, adds up to $5,250. If you have a couch to crash on for half of your events, you need a hotel for the other half — toss in $1,500 for that as well.

When all is said and done, we’ve reached $25,200 for the minimal expenses. Making the cut at most events gets you a check for about $1,400–so your scores need to be consistently solid to break even. The high cost of tour golf doesn’t stop players from pursuing the dream, even if only for a short time. In 2013, 420 players attempted the first stage, and that number continues to grow.

Not to be forgotten are the expenses that are measured through intangible currency: the sacrifice of a life on the road, the emotional stressors that come along with professional athletics, and the choice to be absent for many a family event. Though this paints a rather pessimistic portrait of chasing the tour, there are still many who join in hopes of becoming the next big player.

The beginning of Boris’s journey reflected this dynamic.

“First year was rough, a good wake up call,” Stantchev said. “I was playing my best but what really got me was how competitive it is even out here in the mini tours. I definitely felt underprepared compared to the guys that were constantly around the lead.”

The opportunity to play with the best comes with just as many opportunities for disappointment. According to Boris, the players who succeed are the ones who look past those obstacles and have a short memory of the difficulties they encounter.

“You can shoot 69-70 and miss the cut by a couple of shots in some of these events, that’s just the way it goes,” Stantchev said. “The patient guys are the ones that have the best chance at success…You just never know with this game. If you play well at the right time, it can change your life. It’s important to trust your practice and just go out and keep it simple.”

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  1. Todd Richards

    Mar 19, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    Who’s getting rent, food and living expenses for $1,000 a month? lol Not in California for sure…and not even in the sticks of central Florida I can vouch for that!!

  2. stephenf

    Mar 10, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    I wasn’t aware that anybody really did this without a sponsor or group of sponsors. Without that, and without a good player-sponsor agreement to allow for significant time out there — how could that be less than at least two or three years? — I don’t know how anybody does this.

  3. ual to airfare estimated.

    Mar 10, 2018 at 11:52 am

    First off, you left out the cost for a caddy throughout the timeframe you based the costs on. Also, the estimated costs for travel and travelre=lated expenses are very low. I would guess the real number is close to double even being conservative. Even if a person drives to events during the off week there would be expenses much higher than your low airfare estimate.

  4. Gary

    Mar 10, 2018 at 8:46 am

    Money isn’t what stops dreams of PGA Tour level golf, it’s skill. What is the lowest score you ever posted on a course without a clown’s mouth? If it isn’t in the low 60s you must get better. Golf becomes your job so your enjoyment of it will go down and the frustration it causes will explode. Add in the financial pressures and there better be some success just to keep your sanity. Playing in the best amateur events you can will help you see where the top talent is. I’m too old now but 20-25-30 years ago my handicap was low single digit and about once a year I entered one of those serious amateur events and got my butt kicked. It’s the guy who wins the state amateur tournament who has a shot. It’s the guy who shoots 66 on a course set up for tough tournament golf who has a shot. My opinion, chase the dream when you’re young and work at it but be realistic about your chances. You will need to win events, not just be top 10, win. Every sport tells players if they can make it as a pro. Golf is no exception.

    • stephenf

      Mar 12, 2018 at 10:30 pm

      You’re right in most cases, but to see this as absolute would’ve kept Tom Kite off the tour, and at one point he was the leading money-winner in history.

      It has to do with type of game as much as how many times you’ve shot in the low 60s. Some, like Kite, didn’t shoot a lot of mega-low scores but had the kind of 69s and 68s that would travel. And boy, did they.

      But your overall point about it having to do with skill rather than money is mostly true. It’s hard to find examples of guys who were legitimately good enough but who never got a chance because the money wasn’t there. It’s all about sponsors. I don’t think anybody really does it even at minor-league level for any amount of time without sponsors.

    • Craig

      Mar 18, 2018 at 7:41 pm

      While the ability to shoot low/mid 60’s is a prerequisite, there are a lot of players who could do that and have been chewed up and spat out. There are so many factors, from opportunity, luck, work ethic, mental toughness.

  5. tim

    Mar 9, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    knew an instructor in Florida that spent 70k a year on the mini tours and after 2 years had to call it quits with 140k in debt.

  6. Axel

    Mar 9, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    You’re unfortunately way conservative in your estimates. I had to make 60 grand per year to cover myself. I never had a sponsor, but if I did, I would have needed much more than 50 grand per year. You don’t need this pile of money at once, but you’ll spend that much by December. If you want to live with your parents forever, then maybe a bit less. Meek some cuts and build up that bankroll.


    Mar 9, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    It must be seriously hard to give up

    I play golf still and think tomorrow I will play just a little better, for these guys just a little better could mean their lives taking a totally different trajectory if they can build on it. Fact is most cannot, there is simply not enough room at the top.

    I am glad I have never been good enough to be as close to the PGA Tour as peope who you are writing about, their lives must suck telling people no i am not rich each time they say they play golf for a living

    Please let me know what you think of our blog (30 days old~)

  8. Jon

    Mar 9, 2018 at 11:18 am

    Also, many of those mini tour players are playing in many Monday qualifyiers at $500 a pop

  9. Jon

    Mar 9, 2018 at 11:16 am

    Most mini tour events (that you are making $1400 if you make the cut) are $1000 to $1600 entry fees. I think your numbers are way off

  10. JM

    Mar 9, 2018 at 6:01 am

    You also forgetting the additional $2,500 after you make it past pre-qualifying. You can’t go to first stage without paying the other half of Q-school.

  11. Zac

    Mar 8, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Adams tour events are $1,000. And $1,300 if you’re not a member of that tour. I think $850 for winter series events.

  12. OG

    Mar 8, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    i’m of the opinion if you havent made it by 21….youre burning through time and cash for the sake of ego protection either for yourself or your parents.

    it wont cost you much as an adult if you already play and have the insides to not care about whether youre putting for 100 or 1M…..

    • dela

      Mar 8, 2018 at 1:40 pm

      Golf is not a maturing life experience unless you call failure a good lesson.

    • Mark

      Mar 8, 2018 at 10:18 pm

      21 is far too early to give up pro dreams. Gary Christian was a mini-tour also-ran in his mid-20s but finally made the PGA Tour at age 41. A rare example, but a lot of guys don’t find their best games until their late 20s or even their 30s.

      • Matt

        Mar 9, 2018 at 11:21 am

        In addition to this, your mental mindset is just so different at 40+ compared to 21. Every shot was so important to me at that age and if I hit one bad it was damn hard to forget it. Now that I’m over 40 it is easier to play with that golf shot amnesia/only shot that matters is the one your currently playing mentality. I don’t have that sweet 21 year old distance anymore unfortunately so its back to my day job.

    • Jon

      Mar 9, 2018 at 11:13 am

      Ignorant comment. Quite a few first time winners in their 30’s.

  13. baddomes

    Mar 8, 2018 at 10:42 am

    Where is Rent/Food/Gym membership only $1,000/month?

    • Rick

      Mar 8, 2018 at 11:56 pm

      if you dont have to commute locally for work you can get a cheap one bedroom apartment way out in a suburb or just a standalone small town for very cheap. There is also no requirement to live in an expensive state if, again, your “job” is all over the place. $1000 is easily doable, but you won’t be living in a luxury loft on main street.

  14. emil

    Mar 8, 2018 at 8:16 am

    Playing the game of golf full time stunts one’s intelligence. It is not an activity that will grow your brain for a real job. We see all the successes earning million$$$, but not the many who have failed and remain childish and empty.

    • Axel

      Mar 9, 2018 at 7:01 pm

      Sounds like someone’s jealous of others. If you have the balls, tee one of them up. You never know what’s on the other side.

  15. James T

    Mar 7, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    Way to ruin the dream Hannah! Actually a good, realistic article. You’d better be dam good and mentally mature at the same time to even consider a pro tour golf career. When I was a kid in St. Louis and the #1 player on my high school golf team I had this same dream. After graduation I picked up and moved to Miami so I could play year ’round. I played or practiced every day, hooked up with some very good players, lost some bets. Discovered my limitations. But at least I can say, when I become old, that I gave it a shot. Nobody can take that away from me. Nevertheless I went on to play college golf on a full athletic scholarship and am now an amateur with a 2.8 handicap. Life is good.

    • kevin

      Mar 9, 2018 at 9:38 am

      i think a large majority of guys trying to make it know deep down they’ll never make it and it doesn’t take long for them to figure it out, but they simply want to be able to say they gave it a shot. no regrets.

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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play



The second World Golf Championship of the year begins this week for what will be the final stop before The Masters for the majority of players in the field. As always with WGC events, the field is stacked — only Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose are missing from the world’s top-10. With an earlier start than usual, 16 groups of four will battle it out in a round-robin format starting Wednesday. The winner of each group will advance to the last 16, which will complete in a straight knockout format from there on in.

Austin Country Club has held the event since 2016, and it’s been a course that has offered up lots of excitement so far. Expect more of the same this week, with four reachable Par 5s on offer as well as a drivable Par-4. The Par-71 course is a modest 7,043 yards with plenty of elevation changes and a mix of tight, tree-lined fairways on the opening nine. The fairways on the back 9 are more generous. Some of the key stats that I’m focusing on this week include Par-5 Scoring, Proximity to the Hole Inside 125 yards and Birdie or Better Percentage, which is always important in match play. Last year, a red-hot Dustin Johnson beat Jon Rahm in the final 1 up, which was his third-consecutive victory at the time.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Rory McIlroy 7/1
  • Dustin Johnson 8/1
  • Justin Thomas 10/1
  • Jon Rahm 12/1
  • Jason Day 14/1
  • Jordan Spieth 20/1
  • Phil Mickelson 20/1

For me, this is the most difficult event on the calendar to predict. Over 18 holes, any player in the field is capable of beating anyone else. We saw just that last year when Hideto Tanihara defeated Jordan Spieth 4&2 and Soren Kjeldsen took down Rory Mcilroy 2&1. For that reason, it’s certainly an event that I’d advise to play conservatively, especially before we reach the knockout phase. Despite the unpredictability of some of the results, however, recently it’s been an event that has been won by the world’s elite. Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day (twice) have claimed the title in the past four years.

From the top of the board, it’s multiple champion Jason Day (14/1, DK Price $9,200) who gets my vote. The Australian has played a limited schedule so far this year, and he seems to be flying under the radar for the year’s first major. I find the lack of attention surprising. He has a win and a second-place finish to his name already in only three starts this year. Last week at Bay Hill he finished T22, where he appeared a little rusty on the opening couple of days before shaking it off and shooting an impressive 67 on Saturday.

Austin Country Club is a course that undoubtedly suits Day. He dominated the event in 2016 when he was playing his absolute best golf, and he was very unfortunate that he was unable to defend last year on account of his mother’s health. It was an issue that appeared to effect his entire season, but there is no doubt that the signs are very good for Day in regards to 2018. Mainly, because he has the magic touch back with the putter. In 2016, he had one of the greatest putting years of recent times, and albeit early on in the season, he is currently on course to match it. Day leads the field in putting for the season by a decent margin, and on the slick bermuda greens of Austin Country Clubs, where he has memories of holing just about everything two years ago, it could play a huge factor yet again this week.

Along with the Queenslander’s fabulous form on the greens, Day is dominating the Par 5’s, where he sits second in the field over his last 12 rounds. Day loves to play aggressive golf, and it’s one of the reasons the match play format suits him so much. The odd blow-up hole is not the disaster that it would be in stroke play, and he has the ability to rack up birdies fast. So far this season, Day is third in this field for birdie or better percentage.

Day will be the favorite to advance from Group 8, which contains James Hahn, Louis Oosthuizen and Jason Dufner, but the unpredictability of the match play format means it will be far from easy. Should he do so, however, he may be an extremely difficult man to stop, and 14/1 is not a bad price on him repeating his heroics of 2016.

Patrick Reed’s (30/1, DK Price $7,700) return to form has been long overdue. With back-to-back weeks finishing in the top-10, he should be feeling confident in a format that in the past he has blown hot and cold in. Despite his colossus performances in the Ryder Cup, the WGC-Matchplay has been a frustrating event for the Texan. He has yet to make it past the Round of 16, but he seems to be rejuvenated by the return of his idol, Tiger Woods, to the PGA Tour. We’ve seen a far more aggressive Patrick Reed as of late.

With the top seed in his group being Jordan Spieth, there’s speculation that their matchup could be a fiery one. Last week, Patrick Reed was recorded saying that he guessed he needed to be Jordan Spieth to get a free drop after he was left fuming by a ruling. Personally, I don’t think there will be any hostility from either player, but perhaps the attention it has received over the last day will fire up Reed, who seems to produce his best when in the spotlight.

All facets of Reed’s game are firing at the moment. He is fourth in this field for Strokes Gained Tee to Green, Strokes Gained Around the Green and Strokes Gained Total over his last eight rounds. Not withstanding the volatility of 18-hole matchups, there is a sense that Spieth may be a little vulnerable right now. Reed will be relishing the opportunity to take him on in what could possibly be an important Game 3. At 30/1, there is a confidence about Reed at the moment that I like, and it could see him finally deliver in a format that he has adapted to so well in The Ryder Cup.

The star name in Group 7 is the current Masters Champion Sergio Garcia, but I’m willing to take him on this week with Xander Schauffele (66/1, DK Price $7,400). The 2017 Rookie of the Year has been playing well as of late with three-consecutive top-20 finishes. From that period, he scores well in the key statistics, which should bode well for him this week. The Californian is 10th for Strokes Gained on Par 5s for his last 12 rounds, and on a course where wedge play is vitally important, his short irons seem to be in excellent shape. Over the same period, Schauffele is 15th in the field for Proximity to the Hole from 100-125 yards and 16th from 75-100 yards.

He will have to overcome Garcia, as well as Shubhankar Sharma and Dylan Frittelli to advance to the next phase. Garcia has never looked comfortable at Austin Country Club, however, and I think Schauffele may be the best option to pounce on any weakness he shows. Schauffele does not rank outside 30th in this field for his last 12 rounds in any major statistic, and he is eighth overall for Strokes Gained Total.

Last but not least is Webb Simpson (100/1, DK Price $7,800), who is in Group 15 alongside Pat Perez, Gary Woodland and Si-Woo Kim. I think it’s fair to say that this looks to be one of the most unpredictable of the lot. Yet at 100/1, it was an easy enough decision to add Simpson to my stable this week, who just like Xander is performing well in the key statistics.

The former U.S. Open Champion is 17th in this field over his past 12 rounds on Par 5s, but it’s been his wedge play that really got my attention. Over the same period, Simpson ranks seventh for proximity to the hole from 100-125 yards and 15th from 75-100 yards. Some other good signs for Simplson include his putting, as he currently sits 11th for the season in Strokes Gained Putting. His scoring average for the season is also an impressive 69.5, which is seventh on the PGA Tour. At 100/1, it seems worth a small investment in what I’m expecting to be another roller coaster of an event with plenty of surprises.

Recommended Plays

  • Jason Day 14/1, DK Price $9,200
  • Patrick Reed 30/1, DK Price $7,700
  • Xander Schauffele 66/1, DK Price $7,400
  • Webb Simpson 100/1, DK Price $7,800
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Opinion & Analysis

Paige Spiranac explains her decision to pose for the 2018 SI Swimsuit



During the PXG 0311 Gen2 iron launch event, I caught up with Paige Spiranac to talk about a variety of topics including her advice to young girls in the golf world, how her life has changed since becoming a golfing celebrity, her relationship with PXG, her decision to stop playing professional golf, and she explains why she wanted to pose for the SI Swimsuit issue.

Enjoy my interview above!

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Opinion & Analysis

Bag Chatter: An Interview With 36 Golf Co.



Bag Chatter is a series of interviews that spotlights brands around the golf industry and the people behind them. We’re looking to make this a regular thing, so please comment and share through your medium of choice. If you have a brand and are interested in participating in these interviews, you can email for consideration. This interview is with Jay Vogler of 36 Golf Co (Pictured above caddying for business partner Chevy Mayne).

Talk to me about 36 Golf Co. What are you guys all about?

We’re all about getting people out to the course, having fun and not taking golf too seriously. We’re trying to create a brand for people who love the game, but aren’t necessarily trying to turn pro. The whole idea started when I was walking through a hockey shop and saw all these hockey lifestyle brands and I was like, “Why doesn’t this exist in golf?” We’re mainly targeting the 18-35 crowd; folks that kind of have a laid-back approach. We think it doesn’t matter if you wear cargo shorts and a T-shirt as long as you’re respecting the game and taking care of the course. It’s more important to replace your divots, repair your ball marks and keep up with the pace of play than it is to wear a collared shirt.

There are a lot of people launching brands in the soft goods world these days (clothing, towels, head covers, etc.). As a result, that world can be a little crowded. What makes 36 Golf Co. different from everyone else out there?

Our corner of the market, if you will, is trying to create a community of people who see the game the same way we do. We want to see the game grow, especially among the millennial age group. We think participation is lacking in that demographic, and we want to play a part in making the game a little more accessible for them. We want people to connect over our attitude toward golf. If you see a guy walking down the street wearing a 36 hat, we want you to think he’s approachable and he’s down to hang out and talk about golf and life without being pretentious. We’re out there to lower some of the barriers to entering the game.

Since I know you’re all about growing the game, what do you think it needs? What do you think is the biggest “problem” with golf that’s keeping people away from playing it or trying it?

I think perception is probably the biggest thing honestly. I picked up the game five years ago when I was 22 and I came from skateboarding and snowboarding. When I got into the game, a lot of people make a weird face and were like, “You play golf?!” It’s totally a perception thing, but once you get past that, it’s just such a fun game. From the first time I flushed a 7-iron at a driving range, I was hooked, but a lot of people don’t even get that far. We’re just trying to lower the barriers to the game and put a community out there.

36 Golf Co. “The Looper” Meshback Hat

If you could change one thing about the game of golf, what would you change? It doesn’t have to be something in the USGA rule book necessarily.

Obviously, I would get rid of dress codes. That’s my big bugaboo with the game. If I was just going about my daily life, I wouldn’t be wearing pants and a collared shirt and I think a lot of people would be in that same boat. If we let people come as they are, I bet participation would go way up. Appearance, respectfully, only matters so much. You can wear a collared shirt and still be a jerk and not repair your ball marks.

When you got the idea to start this company, how did you actually go about making that happen? Did you just google shirt suppliers or something? What was that process like?

Yeah, I pretty much spent the first month on Google looking for suppliers. I have a design background, so we did the design and the website ourselves, so that was good. Finding the right suppliers who were willing to work with us and had quality stuff was difficult.

What’s the biggest road block you’ve experienced with 36 Golf Co.? Launching it, marketing it, logistics, billing, whatever…

Starting a business in general was just…so much to take in. It’s overwhelming. Accounting, problems with suppliers… but if you don’t just start it then you’ll never know. I know it’s a cliché, but you gotta start somewhere. It’s not that any one thing was so difficult. It was just the amount of things that come your way.

36 Golf Co “The Sniper” Snap Back Hat and “Fleck” T Shirt

What are you most optimistic about with 36 Golf Co? What’s got you excited these days?

We just went to a show this past weekend in Toronto, and we just met a lot of people who really seemed to get what we were about and were excited to be a part of it themselves. That’s what gets you excited; when people really understand your vibe and want to be a part of that community and rep your brand for no other reason than it resonates with them. That’s what it’s all about.

Let’s play a game. Imagine golf was like baseball and you got to pick a “walk-up song” when you got to the first tee. What song are you going with?

Haha. I’ve been listening to a lot of Jurassic 5 lately, so we’ll go with “What’s Golden.” I feel like that’d be a pretty good hype song.

If you could only play one course for the rest of your life, which one would it be? It has to be a course you have played before or have access to, though. Don’t just say Augusta.

There’s a little course called Bathurst Glen just north of Toronto. I used to work there, but it kicks my butt every time I go. It’s a friendly spot, which I enjoy. I struggle playing really nice golf courses. They kind of stress me out.

Chevy Mayne of 36 Golf Co. in the “OG” T Shirt and “Frost Delay” Snapback Hat

It’s kind of old news, but I’ll ask the following since it’s right up your alley. What was your take on the LPGA dress code announcement last year?

Oh man. I was like, “What the hell are you thinking?” You know, when they said that I was showing it to my girlfriend who’s a non-golfer and she was like, “I don’t understand what the problem is.” It’s not like they’re wearing thongs or something. Obviously, I think that golf needs to be tailored to welcome people into the game, and I think that sent the wrong message.

Lastly, what do you guys have in the works? Let us know what’s coming from 36 Golf Co.

We have limited resourced with just two people, but we have tons of plans. Our main products right now are our hats, which are mainly modern styles. You know, snapbacks and flat brims. We also have T-shirts and quarter zips available. All of that is on our website at We will be getting some golf shirts in soon, which we are calling our “collared T-shirt” this spring, so that’s going to be the most exciting launch for us in the near future. Follow us on Instagram @thirty6ix_golf_co and on twitter @Thirty6ix_golf to keep up with our brand and join our community.

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19th Hole