Essential Golf: A passion for the Game

What Does the PGA TOUR University Entail?

What Does the PGA TOUR University Entail?

College golf is a very essential component of the overall golfing sport, as this is the platform where most of the pros we see today are made. The PGA TOUR understands this concept all too well, having benefitted from some of the top talents that US golf colleges produce. 

In a bid to encourage college golfers to work hard on improving their game and finishing college, they launched the PGA TOUR University program in 2020. The program seeks to offer senior golfers a direct path to join the PGA TOUR and other developmental tours immediately after college. The program works in partnership with the World Amateur Golf Rankings.

Background

During its launch in 2020, the PGA TOUR University program strictly targeted senior NCAA Division I level golfers. The aim was to connect them with developmental tours after college such as the Korn Ferry Tour, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, Mackenzie Tour (PGA TOUR Canada), and PGA TOUR Series-China

The final PGA TOUR University rankings were to be decided upon completion of the NCAA Championship, and which tour a golfer went to was determined by their respective finishing position.

The top five golfers on the list earned Korn Ferry Tour membership and could participate in all open and full-field events for that season. Additionally, the five would also be exempt for that year’s Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament Final Stage.

Positions 6-15 had the option to choose from the Mackenzie Tour, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, and PGA TOUR Series-China for that current season. As an extra perk, they got a full exemption to the Second Stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament. 

Current PGA TOUR U Model

In November 2022, the PGA TOUR announced significant upgrades to the PGA TOUR University program, making it super friendly to all college golfers. Although the main PGA TOUR U remains focused on senior golfers, there is a new PGA TOUR University Accelerated program that targets younger collegiate golfers in their freshman, sophomore, and junior years.

For the regular PGA TOUR University program, most rules remain intact such as the final rankings being decided at the end of stroke play in the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship. To be eligible for PGA TOUR U, golfers must complete a minimum of four years in college and play on the NCAA Division I level.

What has changed significantly are the benefits that top 20 ranking golfers stand to gain. The number one golfer on the PGA TOUR U for example will be earning full PGA TOUR Membership for the current season and the next season. Swedish star Ludvig Aberg was the first to benefit from this new rule and is now playing professionally on the PGA TOUR since June 2023 and is also cleared for the 2024 season.

Positions 2-5 in the PGA TOUR U rankings will earn a fully exempt Korn Ferry Tour membership for that year. Additionally, they will receive an exemption to the Final Stage of that year’s PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry. Golfers who benefitted from this category in 2023 are Fred Biondi, Adrien Dumont De Chassart, Ross Steelman, and Sam Bennett.

Players finishing numbers 6-10 in the final ranking will earn a fully exempt PGA TOUR Canada membership and a conditional Korn Ferry Tour membership for that year. Additionally, they will receive an exemption for the Second Stage of that year’s PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry and the following year’s Latin America Swing of the PGA TOUR Americas season. 2023 beneficiaries of this group are William Mouw, Ryan Burnett, Patrick Welch, Ricky Castillo, and Yuxin Lin.

The last category of beneficiaries will include numbers 11-20 in the final PGA TOUR University Ranking. These stars will receive a full exemption to the PGA TOUR Canada and the Second Stage of the PGA TOUR Q-School for that year. An additional perk will be a conditional status through the following year’s Latin America Swing of the PGA TOUR Americas season. Golfers that swept this category in 2023 are Sam Choi, Travis Vick, Reid Davenport, Derek Hitchner, Tommy Kuhl, Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira, Ben Carr, Connor Howe, Chase Sienkiewicz, and Maximilian Steinlechner.

PGA TOUR University Accelerated

High-achieving freshmen, sophomores, and juniors now have a reason to smile after feeling alienated from the PGA TOUR U program since its inception. These younger talented collegiate golfers will now be able to rack up points for specific accomplishments, giving them a chance to earn PGA TOUR membership, thanks to the new PGA TOUR University Accelerated program.

Specific accomplishments that will earn points include making the cut in a PGA TOUR event, winning a D-I golf tournament, playing in the Walker Cup, and winning the Haskins Award. A player will receive a PGA TOUR membership if he earns 20 points by his third year of NCAA eligibility. 

Final Thoughts

Things are indeed getting better for collegiate golf. Thanks to the PGA TOUR U program and its Accelerated version, all college golfers can now put their clubs to work and unleash their best selves, knowing a pro career is closer than it used to be. Fans should expect cutthroat competition in all collegiate events going forward, which will only make the game of golf better!