What is a Pro Am in Golf

The Golf Pro Am Explained: A Golfer’s Dream

Golf is such a fun sport as you can play in so many different formats and tournaments. But what is a golf pro am?

It’s easy to get confused with so many formats – Stableford, shamble, 4-ball, Chapman, etc. However, a pro-am tournament is not like most golf formats as it’s a combination of amateurs and one pro golfer.

Imagine getting the chance to play golf with your favorite PGA (or LPGA) Tour player at the site of a PGA Tour event? For most of us it sounds like a dream and luckily, you might get to make it happen if you can find your way into a professional pro am.

This makes for a ton of fun on the golf course. Let’s get into the pro am format and different types of these events. 

What is a Golf Pro-Am Event? 

A golf pro-am is when an amateur golfer (or team of amateurs) plays with a professional golfer. This can happen at a local golf club pro level all the way up to PGA Tour events. It brings a professional and amateur golfers together for a fun day on the links.

Playing in a pro am is a great experience and unlike a normal round with your friends. We’ll provide some tips to help you from the registration process to not losing golf balls and helping the team out.

Key Takeaways 

  • Pro-ams are a great way to have fun with your friends and play with pro golfers – sometimes at incredible golf courses.
  • There are local pros ams that might happen at a country club and/or PGA pro-ams that happen with the best golfers in the world.
  • A Monday pro am is less common as most take place the Wednesday before a tournament starts.  

Keep reading to learn more about pro-ams in golf.

Format and Scoring 

The format for these events tends to be four amateur golfers and one professional. But depending on the tournament it might be a 2-man event, one pro and one amateur. Or, one pro and three amateurs (which avoids having groups of five on the course).

What is a Shamble Golf Format

It’s great for pros as they can help amateur golfers with some swing tips and also show off their game. While amateurs get to meet professional golfers, take pictures, get swag bags, and maybe even win the event. 

Local Pro-Ams 

Scoring will depend on the event as I’ve played several different ones. With local pro ams, it’s usually one gross score and two net scores. 

For example, I played in an annual event with four amateurs and one pro. Based on handicap, there is an A, B, C, and D player and we played the white tees (about 6,200 yards). While the pro played the back tees (about 400 yards longer). 

Each hole we all played our own golf ball then handicaps are factored in to figure out the scoring. In this event it was one gross and two nets – which could all come from amateurs or the pro too. 

These can be a single or two events in some cases. 

PGA Pro-Ams

Meanwhile, the PGA and LPGA Tour also have pro-ams almost every week. They tend to happen on Monday (not very often) or Wednesday in a morning and afternoon session.

The Monday pro-ams are usually cheaper to enter (more on entry fees coming up) and feature lower ranked golfers. Wednesday pro-ams feature higher ranked players and are single day events – either 9 or 18 holes. 

The format varies but it’s usually a best-ball or scramble format. The pros play the upcoming tournament tees to prepare for the event while amateurs play up to speed up pace of play.

Perhaps the best example of this in professional golf events is the Pebble Beach Pro-Am which is played every year. It takes place at Pebble Beach golf links and the other courses in the rotation.

It’s the most iconic event in golf as it pairs one PGA pro with one amateur. Some of the big names to compete over the years include Bill Murray, Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Larry Fitzgerald, and many other athletes or celebrities.

These are tons of fun for amateurs as they get to see high-level golf first hand. Plus, there is usually some sort of networking party, swag bags, and prizes too. 

Entry Fees

The entry fees are when things get interesting – especially when competing in a PGA Tour pro-am. Just how much? A lot more than your average tee time as described in this Golf.com article.

“$31,000 per foursome on the PGA Tour, and between $12,000 and $16,000 on the LPGA Tour. The granddaddy of these events is the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. It commands $25,000 per person, but you need to secure an invite for the right to pay that amount.”

Yikes! This article was published in 2021 but now it’s been estimated the Pebble Beach pro-am is north of $40,000 per player… assuming you get an invitation. Needless to say, these are not cheap events.

But don’t worry, they’re for a good cause. As the same Golf.com article mentioned, “These events raise millions for the tournament’s charity partners, or, in some cases, they help finance the tournament itself. It’s the single largest revenue line for the majority of events.” 

Yes, they’re expensive but they’re also a bucket list day to play a bucket list course with a professional golfer. 

Local Pro-Am Entry Fees 

If you can find a local pro-am they’re much cheaper than a PGA Tour event. Depending on if it’s a one-day event or two days it might only be $200-$400 – including food and drink tickets. 

Types of Golf Games

FAQs About Golf Tournaments

Do you have more questions about different types of competitive events in golf? If so, keep reading to learn more now. 

What does pro-am mean in golf?

A pro-am golf tournament is when a team of amateur golfers play with one pro in their group. This can happen at a local level at your country club all the way to a PGA or LPGA Tour event. 

What handicap do you need to play in a pro-am?

It depends on the tournament but generally there isn’t a requirement. Playing with a pro can feel intimidating so make sure you have the right mental attitude to score well. 

Do professional golfers get paid for pro-ams?

Sometimes they do get paid – other times it’s part of their “required” duties as PGA players and/or sponsorship obligations. 

Why is it called a pro-am? 

Because amateurs play with professional golfers for a team score vs other pro-am teams. These types of events have been around for decades and loved by amateurs as they get to meet and play with elite golfers. 

Does LIV Golf have pro ams?

Despite their non-conforming ways of three day events and wearing shorts in competition, yes they do have pro-ams. It’s three amateurs with one LIV golfer for 18 holes the day before the tournament starts. 

When researching an upcoming LIV tournament I found the pricing to be about 7,500 euros (per player). This includes the pro-am itself and also VIP passes to the event too. You can easily sign up online under the ticket sections – if you feel like forking over that kind of money. 

Can anyone play in a PGA pro am?

Yes, if you pay the entry fees you can play… unless there is a certain handicap limit that you do not reach. 

Can amateur golfers get paid? 

Yes, but only up to $1,000 per the USGA rules of golf.

Here’s the full language in the rule book, “An amateur golfer may accept prize money up to the limit when playing in a scratch competition only. The $1000 limit applies to non-cash prizes in a handicap competition.”

This is typically rewarded in pro-shop credit and/or gift cards – not cash. However, amateur golfers can accept cash payments when competing in skins games. 

Is it hard to be a pro golfer?

Yes, it’s extremely competitive to make it on the Korn Ferry and/or PGA Tour. They only have a limited number of cards available which makes every shot throughout the year count. 

Want to learn more about pro golf? Click here now

How to Become a Golf Pro

How do I prepare for a pro-am?

If you’re an amateur golfer and want to play good in pro am events follow these tips:

  • Confirm registration date/time.
  • Practice your short game and putting a lot.
  • Avoid swing changes heading into the event.
  • Make sure to work on your pre-shot routine to calm nerves.

Finally, make sure to have fun in your pro-am event!

My Pro-Am Experience

Playing in local pro-ams are a ton of fun as you get to hang out with your friends and play with good golfers. Plus, if you’re the A player in your group, you might even beat the pro on a good day (I’ve done this a few times and can say it doesn’t make them happy).

If you have a chance to play in a local pro-am I highly recommend it. While it tends to be a slower day of golf (since there are five players per group) it’s still usually a lot of fun.

While a bucket list goal for a lot of golfers is playing a PGA pro-am to play amazing courses with a top-rated player. Unfortunately, these cost a ton of money but never say never! I’ve yet to compete in a pro am event but it’s definitely on my list of golf goals.

But if you’re ever able to play in a Wednesday pro-am at the club hosting a pro event, do it!  

Final Thoughts on a Pro Am Tournament

Pro am events serve as a great way to let amateur golfers play with elite golfers and raise money for a good cause. Pro am events at the professional level happen each week, either on a Monday or Wednesday.

Plus, it’s fun for golf fans to watch on TV too.

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