What Is A Pro Am in Golf?

What is a Pro Am in golf?

Amidst all the buzz around professional golf tournaments like the Masters, U.S. Open, PGA Championship, and LIV tournaments, it’s easy to think golf tournaments are a pros-only affair. 

But, it’s not just about the seasoned players swinging for those major titles. There’s a chance for amateurs to step onto the same greens. Pro-Am tournaments are the ticket for that.

In the midst of all the pro action, Pro-Am tournaments open the door for amateurs to tee off alongside the pros, creating a unique fusion of talent and camaraderie. It’s proof that golf is a sport where pros and enthusiasts can share the course and create unforgettable moments.

I. What is a Pro Am in golf?

Pro-Am, short for Professional-Amateur, is an event where professional golfers team up with amateur players for a tournament. 

It is typically a one-day event that takes place during the first part of the week of PGA Tour events, or other major Tour events. Generally, Pro-Ams consist of two sessions: morning and afternoon sessions.

The aim of these events is to promote the sport, raise funds for charity, and give amateur golfers the experience of playing with a professional.

II. How does the pro-am in golf work: rules and details

In a Pro-Am golf tournament, it’s not only about competing but also about understanding the finer details of the game from seasoned professionals. 

Let us take a look at some of the rules and details that are associated with this golf tournament. 

1. Pro-Am tournament format

The format of a Pro-Am event can vary, but the most common is a one-day tournament played in a Scramble format or Best Ball format. This usually happens before a professional tournament, allowing amateurs to experience the golf course under tournament conditions.

2. Teams

During the Pro-Ams, each team comprises one professional golfer and usually three or four amateur golfers. Some events pair amateurs with professionals randomly, while others may allow sponsors or high-ranking officials to choose their playing partners.

3. Scoring

The scoring in the Pro-Am tournaments will differ depending on the selected format.

  • In a Scramble format, all players tee off, then choose the best shot, and all play from that spot. This continues until the ball is holed.
  • In the Best Ball format, each player plays their own ball, and the best score on each hole counts towards the team’s overall score.

4. Prize money

Prize money in Pro-Am golf tournaments typically encompasses a range of rewards for the teams that excel in the competition. 

These rewards may consist of prestigious trophies, valuable merchandise, and even coveted invitations to participate in upcoming pro-am events.

As an example, the purse for the 2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am stands at an impressive 9 million dollars, marking a notable increase from the 8 million dollars allocated in the preceding year, 2022.

III. Criteria and eligibility to participate in a Pro-Am

Here is everything you need to know about the eligibility criteria to participate in a Pro-Am event: 

1. Handicap requirements

In the Pro-Am golf tournaments, fair competition takes center stage. To step onto the course alongside the pros, amateurs often need a valid golf handicap. The specific requirement can vary, but a common bar is set around the 20 handicap mark. 

2. Participation qualification

Most Pro-Am golf tournaments, like the famous Pebble Beach Pro-Am, are special events where you can’t just sign up by yourself. 

You have to be invited to join. Invitations are specifically sent out to particular individuals who have a special connection to the event.

These might include sponsor exemption, celebrities, influential people, and amateur golfers who have ties to the event’s supporters. 

Here are some of the ways to play in a pro-am golf tournament.

3. Sponsorship

Amateur golfers can enter Pro-Ams through sponsorships. Sponsorship not only secures a spot but may include practice rounds and invitations to exclusive events, providing a good experience of playing with professionals.

4. Pro-Am packages

Pro-Am packages are designed specially to provide amateur golfers with the opportunity to compete alongside a professional in a Pro-Am. These packages typically include green fees, accommodation, meals, and entry into the tournament.

To purchase these packages, you need to register yourself on the event website. If you are eligible and slots are available, you will be allocated a spot, and you can proceed with the purchase.

5. Celebrity status

Some Pro-Ams are even more exciting because they have celebrities or highly-influential people playing. If you’re a famous actor, sports star, or a big-shot in business, you might get an invitation. These famous folks make the event more fun and get a lot of attention from the media.

6. Donations or fundraising

If you really want to be part of a Pro-Am but don’t have an invite or sponsorship, you might be able to make a big donation to the charity that the event supports. This is a way for you to contribute to a good cause while also getting the chance to play in the tournament with professionals.

IV. Benefits of playing in a pro am event

Pro-Am tournaments are unique opportunities where amateur golfers play with professional golfers. They enhance your golfing skills by offering professional experiences that transcend the realm of the sport.

  • Learning from Pros: Gain insights into professional golfers’ techniques and strategies.
  • Networking: Connect with influential figures, sponsors, and fellow enthusiasts.
  • Unique Experience: Play on prestigious courses in tournament conditions.
  • Skill Improvement: Receive advice and tips from experienced players.
  • Camaraderie: Build friendships with teammates and professionals.
  • Media Exposure: Opportunity to be part of media coverage and attention.
  • Charitable Impact: Contribute to fundraising efforts and charitable causes.

V. Do pro-am players get paid?

Professional golfers playing in a pro-am event may receive prize money depending on their performance and their position in the tournament’s standings. 

On the other hand, amateur players usually do not receive payment for their participation in pro-am events.

However, tournament participants receive sponsor-donated goodies such as golf bags, golf balls, and other golfing accessories.

VI. How much does it cost to play in Pro-Am?

The cost of joining a Pro-Am varies, typically ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 per group of four players. Premium PGA Pro-Ams, like the AT&T Pebble Beach event, can even reach $40,000.

Yet, there are more budget-friendly alternatives, like the LPGA Symetra Tour Pro-Am, priced at $2,000 for a group of three.

Now, whether these prices offer good value depends on your preferences and goals. Golf is known to be an expensive sport, but if you’re passionate about playing in a professional setup, the Pro-am event is worth considering.

VII. Caddies in Pro Am events

Caddies are crucial in Pro-Am events, providing guidance and support to both professional and amateur golfers. 

However, while it’s mandatory for professionals to bring their own caddies, amateur golfers can either choose to use the tournament’s professional caddie or not. In some events, like the 3M open Monday pro-am, you need to register and pay for a caddie if you want one.


Pro-Am golf tournaments are an excellent way to gain knowledge and experience playing alongside professionals while contributing to charitable causes. With various formats, rules, and costs, you will find a Pro-Am that suits your preferences and budget.

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