How Much Does It Cost to Play Professional Golf?

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

So you’ve been shooting par or better at your golf course this season and you’re ready to take the show on the road? Won a few area tournaments / maybe even college events? Think you have what it takes to compete as a professional golfer?

Well, before you get your push cart too out in front of you, I thought I would do an article on how much money it takes to play professionally these days.

And, since there are many different ways to measure this (as well as different golfers who spend more / less than others), I thought it would be good to take a look at what one former Korn Ferry Tour member had to say about costs associated with playing that tour.

Luke Kwon

Kwon may be more known for his play on the Youtube channel, GoodGood than for his play as a professional golfer.

But, he has an impressive resume:

  • University of Oklahoma golf team (which has produced several top pro golfers, including Anthony Kim)
  • Korn Ferry Tour (2020)
  • Winner on PGA Tour China

Before joining the GoodGood guys, Kwon was maintaining his own channel where he’s documented his journey through pro golf along with fun golf matches with friends and other professionals.

Recently, he made a video where he discussed whether or not he was retiring from playing professionally. In the video, Kwon went over the costs associated with playing on the Korn Ferry Tour (KFT) and I thought you’d be interested to see that breakdown here.

  • Flights: $500 (from event to event)
  • Hotel: $1,000 (usually split with roommate, so $500)
  • Caddy: $1,000
  • Rental car + gas: $400 (I actually thought this was on the low side)
  • Food: $300

Weekly expenses total: $2700

Kwon figures that if a player were to be fully exempt on the KFT and play all 26 events (no player is likely to play all of them), he would need about $70,000 per year to make a go of it.

Here is Kwon talking more about these figures:

Granted, some golfers are more thrifty than others and can stretch their dollars OR have different arrangement (perhaps are staying with host families at events, sharing transportation to events, ie).

The Firepit Collective also has been featuring some mini-tour golfers trying to make their way as a professional, in their “Grind” Series of videos. In one of the videos featured, Mark Baldwin (a 16-year pro), cited expenses of $61,000 for 2021, against $96,000 in earnings.

How do these golfers fund their dreams?

No doubt one of the main lures of professional golf is the jaw-dropping figures from the PGA Tour / not to mention newly formed LIV Golf. This past weekend, Scottie Scheffler, took home $3.6 million in the “elevated” Waste Management Phoenix Open. It was the biggest payout for any event on the PGA Tour in history.

These sums, along with the accolades, title and trappings of winning on Tour are just some of the reasons golfers chase playing professionally.

I can remember playing in a mini-tour event near San Diego and my playing partner talked to me about how to get “investors” on-board to help sponsor the journey. He also shared how he’d maxed out several credit cards.

Not a real attractive way to live – but it is all a “bet” on yourself.

For Kwon, his Youtube channel, supporters of that channel, an online teaching course and now his association with GoodGood, all contribute to funding his professional golf (if he starts playing more tournaments again).

For me, being more of a cheapskate, it is hard to put out that type of money when there are no guarantees. Today, one needs a load of confidence in their ability, a risk-taker mentality and skill to make it through the professional ranks.

Would love to hear what you know about costs playing professional golf.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *