Becoming a PGA Apprentice

There are two paths to becoming a member of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA). One is to apply to the PGA Golf Management University Program. The other path begins by becoming a PGA apprentice.

A qualified apprentice may then begin taking the PGA’s Professional Golf Management (PGM) Level 1 courses, with the eventual goal of becoming a full PGA member. You must fulfill three basic requirements to become a PGA apprentice.

Register for the Playing Test

Prospective PGA members must pass a Playing Ability Test (PAT). There are two different ways to pass the test. No matter which method an applicant chooses, he must register for the test, either online or by phone. The player will use the course’s middle tees, while the holes will typically be set on level areas of the green. Nevertheless, the PGA reports that less than 20 percent of applicants pass the test.

Take the Playing Test

The most direct method to pass the PAT is to achieve a qualifying score on the 36-hole test. The player must meet or beat the target score, which is the total course rating plus 15 strokes.

If the course rating is 75, for example, the player must score no more than 165 (75 x 2 = 150; 150 + 15 = 165) for 36 holes.

Alternatively, during a PAT the player may achieve an 18-hole score that meets or betters the 18-hole target score, plus five strokes. The 18-hole target is half of the 36-hole target score.

In the above example, the 18-hole target score is 82.5, so the applicant must shoot no more than 87 (the decimal in the aggregate is dropped) for 18 holes. Applicants who achieve a qualifying 18-hole score may enter the PGM program, but may not take the program’s Level 3 courses until they pass the 36-hole PAT.

Qualifying Test

The qualifying test consists of three courses: Introduction to the PGM and the Golf Profession; PGA History and Constitution; and Rules of Golf 1. Each course is taken online. The applicant must then pass what the PGA terms a “knowledge test” with respect to the three courses.


Before an applicant may register as an apprentice, she must be “eligibly employed at a PGA Recognized Golf Facility,” according to the PGA. The applicant must be a full-time employee at the time of registration, in one of the following roles: head pro, director of golf or general manager at a PGA recognized course or range; a teaching pro or assistant pro under the supervision of a PGA member at a PGA recognized course, range or school; or an administrator at the PGA national office, a PGA section office, the PGA Tour office or the LPGA office.