Another of South Africa’s star golfers has turned professional. This month Compleat Golfer’s playing editor tells us about the transition.
One of the most common questions I get is, ‘When is the right time to turn pro?’ and the short answer is … there is no definite ‘right time’. However, I have been able to identify a few things that one should consider when faced with that decision.
The biggest thing that a player needs is opportunity. Without opportunity, you’re on a very long road to your goal. Opportunity comes in many forms these days. This can come in the form of tournament invitations, sponsorship and management.
Having tournaments to play is always the No 1 priority. It doesn’t help if you’re a professional with no tournaments to play. While the IGT and Bushveld Tours are fantastic places to develop, they’re definitely stepping stones to bigger Tours around the world.
With the youngsters coming through the Golf RSA programme there’s been a substantial increase in top-quality players feeding into professional golf. So if one isn’t in that programme it becomes slightly tougher to get invitations, as the Sunshine Tour has a strong relationship with the team at Golf RSA. But again, it’s not impossible.
Sponsorship is another key. Having the financial pressure lifted from one’s shoulders can often be the difference in one’s career. Sponsorship comes in different forms as well.
With golf having the popularity that it does, many companies see value in having a top player representing their brand. They also enjoy having a professional who can entertain their clients on the golf course, which makes the world of difference in the corporate world. While these kinds of deals are tough to find, I strongly encourage players to build a solid network of contacts before turning pro. That way when you make the decision, you’re ready to make some deals.
South Africa, being the sports-mad country it is, also has many individuals who want to change someone’s life. From experience, I’ve seen these individuals basically cover all a player’s costs in exchange for a percentage of their earnings. Some find these deals quite difficult. After all, it is tough to part with your hard-earned winnings. But having someone to help you achieve your success is worth every penny.
Management is always tricky. I have seen so many cases where management groups over-promise and under-deliver. So my recommendation would be to go with an individual rather than a group. Find a person who you trust. A person who you know has your best interests at heart. But most importantly, a person who can help you achieve your goals.
When you are approached, make sure you do your research!
Not having a manager is also not the end of the world. Often, making the journey with those around you, like family, can be more than enough. So don’t be despondent.
Making the decision to make your passion your profession is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. So make sure that this is what you want to do. It’s going to challenge you, unlike anything. So be strong and never lose your passion for this great game.
– This column first appeared in the September 2022 issue of Compleat Golfer magazine. Subscribe here!