Earning A PGA Tour Card [Explained]

For many golfers, the ultimate dream is to become a PGA Tour player. It’s the place where the best golfers in the world are competing each week, trying to win the biggest prizes and the best tournaments.

But PGA Tour cards don’t come easily and you have to earn it. Some players are good enough to win 20 times and earn lifetime membership.

So how do you get a card for the PGA Tour? Here’s a quick look at the routes professional golfers have to go down to get their place and the PGA Tour card requirements.

How To Get A PGA Tour Card?

Ed Welton

Founder, Editor

Ed is the founder and editor at EEE Golf. He’s been playing golf for over 20 years, competing in many top amateur events. He’s played courses all over the world and played with some of the best players in the game. His aim is to help educate people about the game of golf and give insights into the sport he loves most.

Unlocking Professional Golf: The Significance of a PGA Tour Card

A PGA Tour card is what golfers earn so that they can play on the PGA Tour.

Although PGA Tour players do actually get a physical card, it’s more about the status they achieve by having one, which lets them compete on the biggest professional tour in golf.

A PGA Tour card gives players full playing rights for all events in the regular season, with the chance to get to the FedEx Cup Playoffs at the end of the year.

Some players who don’t have full playing status on the tour might have a conditional status which allows them to play in a few PGA Tour events a year.

The Road to Glory: Earning A PGA Tour Card

Golfers looking to get a spot on the PGA Tour can do so through a number of different routes.

The following methods are how to earn a PGA Tour card:

  • Top 30 position on the previous season Korn Ferry Tour
  • Top 10 position on the previous season DP World Tour
  • Top 5 at Final Stage Q-School
  • Number one ranking at end of PGA Tour University Velocity Global Ranking
  • Earn enough points from sponsor exemptions
  • Win a PGA Tour event or Major within a set amount of previous years
Road To The PGA Tour

Korn Ferry Tour

The most common route for achieving a PGA Tour card is via the tour one-below the PGA Tour, the Korn Ferry Tour.

After a full season on the tour, the top 30 players at the Korn Ferry Tour Finals will be given a PGA card.

The Korn Ferry Tour features many great players from out of college, but also lots of pros that have had and subsequently lost a PGA Tour card. Therefore, the standard of golfer playing each week is extremely high.

Those who manage to finish in the top 30 at the close of the season will have a level of playing status on the PGA Tour for next season, based on the Priority Rankings.

Players on the Korn Ferry Tour also have the chance of earning automatic promotion to the PGA Tour by winning three Korn Ferry Tour events in one season.

A far from easy task if you ask me, but if you’re good enough to have three Korn Ferry Tour wins in a season, you’re certainly good enough to compete on the PGA Tour.

Ed’s Thoughts ⛳

The Korn Ferry Tour route is one of the best ways to gain a PGA Tour card because it gives players a full season of playing, similar to what they can expect on the PGA Tour.

It’s far from easy, but at least it gives players who are good enough the experience of travelling and competing for decent-sized cheques each week.

One such player who has had struggles and seen success on the PGA Tour via the Korn Ferry Tour is Max Homa.

Homa played on the Korn Ferry Tour (formerly Web.com Tour) in the 2013-14 season, finishing up 17th in the season money list and earning a PGA Tour card for 2014-15.

After a solid first season on the PGA Tour, Homa lost his card in 2017 and had to return to the Korn Ferry Tour.

Going into the 2018 Korn Ferry Tour Finals, Homa was lying 73rd in the rankings and needed a good few weeks to make a return to the PGA Tour, which he managed, eventually finishing 24th in the Priority Rankings.

The following season, Homa went on to win the Wells Fargo Championship on the PGA Tour and has since won multiple times, and has competed in the Ryder Cup for Team USA.

DP World Tour

More recently, the DP World Tour has become another route to the PGA Tour, with the top 10 players in the Race to Dubai rankings, not already exempt, gaining a PGA Tour card.

The leading European Tour is a top-level tour in its own right, with many of the best players in Europe and the rest of the world competing in some great events such as the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Now, as part of the Strategic Alliance, those players who are doing well on the DP World Tour can also test their games more regularly on the PGA Tour with a card.


The PGA Tour now holds qualifying for those players who either lost their tour card or want to earn one for the next season, offering the top five and ties a spot at the end of a very challenging qualification process.

The process consists of Pre-Qualifying, First Stage, Second Stage and Final Stage qualifying. Many players will have exemptions which will see them through to either the First, Second or Final Stages.

Over 1200 players start out hoping to earn qualification for the PGA Tour, but just five places are on offer.

Those looking to gain a place on the PGA Tour, not exempt at any stage, will end up having to play a total of 15 rounds of golf against some very strong competition.

Those who finish outside of the top 5 at the Final Stage will still gain a level of Korn Ferry Tour status.

PGA Tour University

The player ranked top at the final PGA Tour University Ranking will then be given a PGA Tour membership for the current season.

This gives the best player from the college game to get a head-start on the PGA Tour.

If they want to hang onto the card, however, they will need to have a strong finish in a few of the available events to ensure enough FedEx Cup points are earned and a top 125 place is achieved.

Sponsor Exemptions

Sponsor exemptions are a great way of gaining a tour card if no official playing status currently exists.

Usually, players can play in seven sponsor exemptions a season. With a few good results, a professional can earn enough points to secure their tour card for the next season on the PGA Tour.

This is obviously a good route for young players, perhaps straight out of college or who may have done well in a major as an amateur.

After reaching the top of the World Amateur Golf Rankings, Jon Rahm received multiple invites to the PGA Tour in 2016, eventually earning Special Temporary Member status and then securing enough points as a non-member to get his PGA Tour card for the following season.

Win An Event

Perhaps the most obvious method of gaining a PGA Tour card is by winning an event on the PGA Tour or a major championship.

If you haven’t already got a tour card then to tee it up in a PGA Tour event you’ll either have to get a sponsors invite or go through the tournaments Monday qualifiers.

PGA Tour Win Exemptions

A standard PGA Tour win comes with a two-year exemption to the tour, whilst some elevated events such as World Golf Championships, the Memorial Tournament and the Tour Championship are worth a three-year exemption.

Those that win one of the major championships such as the Open Championship or the PGA Championship will get themselves exemption to both the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour.

Danny Willet, for example, managed to win the 2016 Masters which meant that he gained a PGA Tour card for the next five years.

Final Thoughts

There’s a few different methods to get a PGA Tour card, none of which are very easy.

It takes years of practice and plenty of incredibly good golf to become a PGA Tour pro, something only a few will ever achieve.

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