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Is pursuing a golf career worth it anymore?

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#1 jjharrs2

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 10:55 AM

Recently getting back into golf after letting some dust collect on the clubs for two years. I'm 29 and have been playing pretty much my entire life. I'm currently in the middle of exploring a career change, and evaluating whether or not a career in golf is worth pursuing. I'm mainly thinking of the following options:

- Playing pro...obviously. (I know I've got a TON of work to even make it on the minis.) This is the ultimate dream, but I know, in reality, it probably won't happen.

- Teaching pro. I've given informal lessons, and I can't tell you how many swing tips friends have asked for in my life. I'm fairly proficient at analyzing swings and dissecting the problems. I used to work at a top 100 U.S course as basically a peon. One day our teaching pro came out and we were just watching people hit on the range. He asked me about three different swings and I told him about all of them. He basically said, "Yeah those are all correct. Now, I've gotta go teach that first person a lesson, and I'm going to teach him exactly what you just pointed out."

- Club Pro. I've worked a ton of customer service jobs, so I'm pretty proficient in that skill. I've also run my own business for 6+ years, so I get the business side of things.

- Equipment Rep. I'm not a huge fan of sales, but I'm sure there's some jobs in the equipment industry that doesn't involve cold calls and sales.

The main thing I'm wondering is when I look out 20-30 years from now, I really don't see golf being in a good place. I know that a ton of the money spent on golf is by people over 60, so when they die or get too old to play, what will take their place? Will people my age pick up the slack?

My wife and I are in a decent financial position. We have a few student loans, but that's about it. She is in a stable industry that won't be going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Basically, I'd love to find a career that I can make around 50-60k in and be happy. We don't have a luxurious lifestyle, so with her income plus my 50-60k, we should be able to save up enough to retire before we are 80....hopefully... :stink:

I've got enough talent/resources to be able to pass the PAT and all the PGA certification stuff, but just wondering if it's really worth it if I'll be in a career crisis when I'm 55 years old. Any of you guys pondering these thoughts? I mean, maybe we can just hope Tiger wins majors until he's 60, then we'll be all good.


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#2 santasquatcha

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 11:12 AM

Good luck on whatever you choose to pursue.  I donít know a lick about the golf industry... but if you work in an industry that you are passionate about, you can live a happy life.

Depends on the financial situation as well, there are some YouTube channels that document how much it costs as a pro golfer, even if you have some sponsorship dollars.

Do you have kids?  Have plans for kids? That might change your view on financial stability
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#3 ExTrumpet

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 11:13 AM

It all boils down to where your passion is...don't let anyone here influence you--it's your life!  If you want to pursue golf as a career by all means, DO IT!

But not just because I said so...
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#4 AceCatKY

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 11:19 AM

I would be just be careful and analyze whether the fact you enjoy golf means you'd enjoy a golf career. May feel a lot differently when you have been giving lessons to 30 caps for 4-5 years..

As far as playing professionally, even on mini tours, this is likely not gonna be a productive path unless you are a solid + handicap and that handicap travels, ie - you don't just play your home course every time out. Even then the odds are so small its more of a lotto ticket type plan than a feasible path to supporting yourself.
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#5 jjharrs2

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 11:25 AM

- No kids, and currently no plans for kids. Obviously that could change, so who knows.

- I get the passion part for sure. I will have to do some more deep thought and reflection on that, but I loved my job at the country club, and could definitely see myself doing a bunch of different jobs in the industry.

- I know that being a playing pro is essentially a pipe dream at this point, but I have to get my game back in shape to pass the PAT, so I was going to just devote this year and the early part of next year to seeing how low I could go. If I can get comfortably into the + range, I'll think about mini tour stuff. If not, I'll take my scratch-5 handicap and crush that PAT so I can get PGA certification.


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#6 MtlJeff

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 11:30 AM

My feelings on the golf market, not from experience in it mind you but just being a golfer who knows about about this or that....is that not many people do REALLY well in it.

The very top teachers certainly do well. I know a couple of examples. I believe some standout reps also do pretty well

But I think a decent/average employee probably does better financially working in several other disciplines. ie I think golf is more top heavy than most jobs.
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#7 gioguy21

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 11:33 AM

View Postjjharrs2, on 19 April 2018 - 10:55 AM, said:


- Equipment Rep. I'm not a huge fan of sales, but I'm sure there's some jobs in the equipment industry that doesn't involve cold calls and sales.


it's fine if it's part time -- do not do it full time. first, the full time positions are limited but HIGHLY competitive since more often then not, you're battling other journeyman fitters for those positions and if you don't excel, your booty is gonzo.

i wish you luck man - follow what you love.

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#8 TerpFangolfer

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 11:52 AM

my brother was in the biz for 20+ years...got out ~6 years ago and doesn't regret at all...my opinion - unless you land a "dream" job - i.e. at a nice high end club, etc then it is a rough life
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#9 JaNelson38

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 11:58 AM

View Postjjharrs2, on 19 April 2018 - 10:55 AM, said:

Recently getting back into golf after letting some dust collect on the clubs for two years. I'm 29 and have been playing pretty much my entire life. I'm currently in the middle of exploring a career change, and evaluating whether or not a career in golf is worth pursuing. I'm mainly thinking of the following options:

- Playing pro...obviously. (I know I've got a TON of work to even make it on the minis.) This is the ultimate dream, but I know, in reality, it probably won't happen.

- Teaching pro. I've given informal lessons, and I can't tell you how many swing tips friends have asked for in my life. I'm fairly proficient at analyzing swings and dissecting the problems. I used to work at a top 100 U.S course as basically a peon. One day our teaching pro came out and we were just watching people hit on the range. He asked me about three different swings and I told him about all of them. He basically said, "Yeah those are all correct. Now, I've gotta go teach that first person a lesson, and I'm going to teach him exactly what you just pointed out."

- Club Pro. I've worked a ton of customer service jobs, so I'm pretty proficient in that skill. I've also run my own business for 6+ years, so I get the business side of things.

- Equipment Rep. I'm not a huge fan of sales, but I'm sure there's some jobs in the equipment industry that doesn't involve cold calls and sales.

The main thing I'm wondering is when I look out 20-30 years from now, I really don't see golf being in a good place. I know that a ton of the money spent on golf is by people over 60, so when they die or get too old to play, what will take their place? Will people my age pick up the slack?

My wife and I are in a decent financial position. We have a few student loans, but that's about it. She is in a stable industry that won't be going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Basically, I'd love to find a career that I can make around 50-60k in and be happy. We don't have a luxurious lifestyle, so with her income plus my 50-60k, we should be able to save up enough to retire before we are 80....hopefully... :stink:

I've got enough talent/resources to be able to pass the PAT and all the PGA certification stuff, but just wondering if it's really worth it if I'll be in a career crisis when I'm 55 years old. Any of you guys pondering these thoughts? I mean, maybe we can just hope Tiger wins majors until he's 60, then we'll be all good.

Why dont you see golf in a good place in the future?  Look at the PGA Tour and the current status of golf in the NCAA and amateur ranks - nothing but great young players.  Amateur golf is probably as good or better now than it ever has been, especially when you look at it from a worldwide perspective.

Find out what niche of the game you like the best and pursue a career in that department.  If its teaching, get your certification and try to line yourself up with a couple of clubs with the clientele able to pay you.  Perhaps try to get into assistant coaching at a high school or university that offers golf.  If you want to be in teaching on an independent basis you'll need a resume that will draw people to you.

One thing you may have to consider is that to pursue a career in golf you may need to be open to moving.  If your wife's income is a large factor in your household you need to make sure whatever decisions you want to make with your pursuit of a golf career doesnt affect what you describe as her being in a stable job.

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#10 salmon1a

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 12:01 PM

I have a friend that won a few regional events as an amateur and went on to playing in some mini-tours - never had a great deal of success but parlayed it into a Club Pro position.  Seems to be quite happy at the club (has excellent marketing skills and is highly personable).


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#11 From_Parts_Unknown

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 12:05 PM

I don't think the ultimate goal is to play professionally.  Everyone just assumes that's the top.  The ultimate goal is to be someone like Jeff Knox, even for a lot of tour players.

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#12 golfandfishing

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 12:13 PM

Hereís the best thing to do if you can play at all:  work for a teaching pro.

Teach, hold clinics, pick the range, etc for your 50/60 hours a week and collect your $550 paycheck. Then play section events as often as you can. Monday Pro Ams, the State Open, your section championship, various events with mostly other club pros. Collect another $2k a month.
Club pro? Hope you enjoy divorce.
Manufacturers rep? Any of the handful of worthwhile positions are taken and then already in wait when the spot comes up. Youíll be repping plastic tees, ball washer towels and cigar holders.
Do not be the teaching pro with his name on the door - work for that guy. Enjoy the lack of responsibility, collect meager pay and exploit the privileges.

If you need to get your game in shape to pass the PAT though, you need some serious work to cash any checks even in section events.

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#13 cdnglf

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 12:27 PM

View PostFrom_Parts_Unknown, on 19 April 2018 - 12:05 PM, said:

I don't think the ultimate goal is to play professionally.  Everyone just assumes that's the top.  The ultimate goal is to be someone like Jeff Knox, even for a lot of tour players.

Does it get any better than Fred Ridley? US Am Champ and Augusta National Chairman. Pretty sure he's a member at Cypress too.

Edited by cdnglf, 19 April 2018 - 12:28 PM.


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#14 TTGolf77

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 12:47 PM

Just get good. If you are a +3 or +4 handicap itís going to be easier no matter what you do.

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#15 mocokid

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 12:49 PM

View Postcdnglf, on 19 April 2018 - 12:27 PM, said:

View PostFrom_Parts_Unknown, on 19 April 2018 - 12:05 PM, said:

I don't think the ultimate goal is to play professionally.  Everyone just assumes that's the top.  The ultimate goal is to be someone like Jeff Knox, even for a lot of tour players.

Does it get any better than Fred Ridley? US Am Champ and Augusta National Chairman. Pretty sure he's a member at Cypress too.

This is actually the way to go for a "golf career" that pays off $$$.  Surprised no one mentioned it.

Stay an amateur, and get a job in a field where you can play a lot: investments, RE, insurance, banking etc.  Fred is a RE attorney and knows the right people, the old boy network.  However, many can play golf while earning a good salary, I did it, and enjoyed it immensely playing many very nice clubs, while a bank employee who was NOT one of the old boys.

Edited by mocokid, 19 April 2018 - 12:50 PM.


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#16 TerpFangolfer

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 01:19 PM

the best player at my club back in the 90s drove a beer truck - kept his clubs in the cab....drove mostly at early morning or late eve/night - played big $$$ games almost every day.
He qualified for the US Sr Open at Saucon Valley in 2000 (as an Am)...

Edited by TerpFangolfer, 19 April 2018 - 01:20 PM.

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#17 tatertot

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 01:29 PM

View Postjjharrs2, on 19 April 2018 - 10:55 AM, said:

Recently getting back into golf after letting some dust collect on the clubs for two years. I'm 29 and have been playing pretty much my entire life. I'm currently in the middle of exploring a career change, and evaluating whether or not a career in golf is worth pursuing. I'm mainly thinking of the following options:

- Playing pro...obviously. (I know I've got a TON of work to even make it on the minis.) This is the ultimate dream, but I know, in reality, it probably won't happen.

- Teaching pro. I've given informal lessons, and I can't tell you how many swing tips friends have asked for in my life. I'm fairly proficient at analyzing swings and dissecting the problems. I used to work at a top 100 U.S course as basically a peon. One day our teaching pro came out and we were just watching people hit on the range. He asked me about three different swings and I told him about all of them. He basically said, "Yeah those are all correct. Now, I've gotta go teach that first person a lesson, and I'm going to teach him exactly what you just pointed out."

- Club Pro. I've worked a ton of customer service jobs, so I'm pretty proficient in that skill. I've also run my own business for 6+ years, so I get the business side of things.

- Equipment Rep. I'm not a huge fan of sales, but I'm sure there's some jobs in the equipment industry that doesn't involve cold calls and sales.

The main thing I'm wondering is when I look out 20-30 years from now, I really don't see golf being in a good place. I know that a ton of the money spent on golf is by people over 60, so when they die or get too old to play, what will take their place? Will people my age pick up the slack?

My wife and I are in a decent financial position. We have a few student loans, but that's about it. She is in a stable industry that won't be going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Basically, I'd love to find a career that I can make around 50-60k in and be happy. We don't have a luxurious lifestyle, so with her income plus my 50-60k, we should be able to save up enough to retire before we are 80....hopefully... :stink:

I've got enough talent/resources to be able to pass the PAT and all the PGA certification stuff, but just wondering if it's really worth it if I'll be in a career crisis when I'm 55 years old. Any of you guys pondering these thoughts? I mean, maybe we can just hope Tiger wins majors until he's 60, then we'll be all good.

Realistically ...

- You've got .01 chance of being a touring pro at 29.

- Ask yourself "Why would someone come to me for lessons?" If you can think of a good reason, you might have a shot as a teaching pro.

- Ask yourself "Why would any club hire me to be a pro?" Lots of applicants from lots of guys who have gone to school for this sort of thing.

- Do you have a business/marketing degree? Because there are lots of guys applying for sales reps jobs that do.
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#18 Ashley Schaeffer

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 01:41 PM

Get a RE broker's license in a high market value area.  Set up shop.  Join a country club.  Play golf with "prospective clients" every single day.  Write off your club dues and golf equipment (might not be completely legal) as business expenses.  Sell 3-4 houses per year.  Boom, you've got a 50-60k job in the golf business.
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#19 johnseg

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 02:19 PM

The real money is in setting up a junior tour. Go to clubs get dates and over charge parent for kids to play on your "prestigious" tour.

Parents are great. If there kid can't compete at AJGA they will go to HJGA or IJGT, etc.

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#20 jmck

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 04:02 PM

Hate to say it, but listen to the pessimists.  

There are pretty much zero jobs in the golf industry that combine the following:

- Play a lot
- Work less than a 60 hour week
- Make more than $50k per year
- Keep your significant other happy

Frankly it's a minor miracle if you can find a job in the golf industry that combines two of those, and if you need to even think about practicing to pass your PAT there's zero chance you're good enough to play on even a crappy regional mini tour.

If you really love the game you're better off as a banker, lawyer, real estate agent, drywaller, ditch digger, or beer truck driver.  It's a brutal industry, has been for decades, and is only going to get worse.

Sorry to be a downer about it.


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#21 ctmason_98

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 04:52 PM

In meeting hundreds of people over the years who work in the golf industry in just about every capacity there is, I would guess less than 5% of the people I have met seem to enjoy it.  And quite a few of those that come to mind right now this was a career they took on in retirement or after lengthy careers in different industries.

I love fishing. Itís on par (yuk yuk) with how much I love golf. But if I could go back 25 years and try to fish professionally? I wouldíve gone insane.

Further, selling wholesale equipment, boats, or working at Bass Pro is completely unappealing to me.

As a no-nothing hacker that would like to think I know a bit about human behavior...it seems to me most everyone who wants to work in the golf industry because they love playing and following golf are incredibly disappointed.

Our recreational passions are best when they remain recreation, IMO.

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#22 hybrid25

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 05:01 PM

How does anybody know what particular industry will be flourishing 20 years from now? I think a club pro would be and enjoyable position to hold, but that's just me.

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#23 iteachgolf

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 05:11 PM

It is what you make it.  The golf industry isnít a great job, but itís a great career.  If you are driven to be the best at what you do and show initiative you can be very successful.   If you just see it as a job and do the bare minimum then you wonít be very happy.  

Being a teaching pro is the best route.  But it takes time to create a client base where you can survive only teaching.  10-15 lessons a week would net $50k a year and leave plenty of time to play.  I could play 50+ rounds a year if I wanted to.

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#24 jjharrs2

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 05:22 PM

View Postgolfandfishing, on 19 April 2018 - 12:13 PM, said:

Here's the best thing to do if you can play at all:  work for a teaching pro.

Teach, hold clinics, pick the range, etc for your 50/60 hours a week and collect your $550 paycheck. Then play section events as often as you can. Monday Pro Ams, the State Open, your section championship, various events with mostly other club pros. Collect another $2k a month.
Club pro? Hope you enjoy divorce.
Manufacturers rep? Any of the handful of worthwhile positions are taken and then already in wait when the spot comes up. You'll be repping plastic tees, ball washer towels and cigar holders.
Do not be the teaching pro with his name on the door - work for that guy. Enjoy the lack of responsibility, collect meager pay and exploit the privileges.

If you need to get your game in shape to pass the PAT though, you need some serious work to cash any checks even in section events.

This honestly sounds like a viable path. Grind it out working for a teaching pro to learn the ropes, maybe squeeze some lessons out of him, get my game in great shape, and network and evaluate my future options while doing it.

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#25 golfandfishing

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 05:25 PM

View Postjohnseg, on 19 April 2018 - 02:19 PM, said:

The real money is in setting up a junior tour. Go to clubs get dates and over charge parent for kids to play on your "prestigious" tour.

Parents are great. If there kid can't compete at AJGA they will go to HJGA or IJGT, etc.

This is also a solid idea.


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#26 jjharrs2

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 05:26 PM

View Postjmck, on 19 April 2018 - 04:02 PM, said:

Hate to say it, but listen to the pessimists.  

There are pretty much zero jobs in the golf industry that combine the following:

- Play a lot
- Work less than a 60 hour week
- Make more than $50k per year
- Keep your significant other happy

Frankly it's a minor miracle if you can find a job in the golf industry that combines two of those, and if you need to even think about practicing to pass your PAT there's zero chance you're good enough to play on even a crappy regional mini tour.

If you really love the game you're better off as a banker, lawyer, real estate agent, drywaller, ditch digger, or beer truck driver.  It's a brutal industry, has been for decades, and is only going to get worse.

Sorry to be a downer about it.

Don't apologize for speaking your mind. That's why I posted the question. It's good to get both viewpoints on the matter to help me evaluate if this is something I really wanna do. Luckily I'm only one bucket of range balls and a 2 dozen box of Ksigs into this investment...LOL!

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#27 jjharrs2

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 05:28 PM

View Postiteachgolf, on 19 April 2018 - 05:11 PM, said:

It is what you make it.  The golf industry isn't a great job, but it's a great career.  If you are driven to be the best at what you do and show initiative you can be very successful.   If you just see it as a job and do the bare minimum then you won't be very happy.  

Being a teaching pro is the best route.  But it takes time to create a client base where you can survive only teaching.  10-15 lessons a week would net $50k a year and leave plenty of time to play.  I could play 50+ rounds a year if I wanted to.

Thanks for the input. I love teaching. I've taught a ton of different things in the various jobs I've had, and a ton of career aptitude tests suggest I should look into teaching. As I dig further, I think I'll spend more of my time exploring this route as it seems to be the most viable opportunity for my skill set.

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#28 c7015

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 05:32 PM

Its probably easier to start a top golf franchise if you want to be in the biz than be successful at your age with no experience
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#29 95124hacker

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 05:47 PM

Is there a significant money investment to take the PAT?
If not, I say take it and decide from there.
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#30 straightshot7

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 06:04 PM

Golf will be in a fine place in 20-30 years. If you're worried about that, it's probably not the field for you.

It sounds more like you just want a safe job that pays a certain amount. You're probably better off pursuing another industry in that case.

The golf industry is more entrepreneurial than other industries in the sense that you'll have to hustle and be self motivated, probably won't make a lot in the beginning, and should have an extreme passion for it.


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