While members of the PGA Tour play for purses of four to ten millions dollars, the not so glamorous life at Q School plays in the background towards the end of each year. With the changing of the rules and qualifications over the past few years, players can no longer go from Q School directly to the PGA Tour.
2012 was the final year the Top 25 at final stage earned PGA Tour playing privileges. What I considered one of the most grueling tests of golf is now still just as grueling, but without the bigger pot of gold at the end of the road.
What used to be a final stage six round event for PGA Tour status, is now a four round event for Web.com Tour status. The change from six rounds to four doesn’t sit well with me. When you add in a few more rounds I think the better cream rises to the top and gives you a little more time if you have a rough start, especially when playing for your livelihood. Only a few players usually came out and got through everything their first time and got to the PGA Tour. As hard as final stage is, I feel second stage is just as hard if not harder.
Getting to final stage doesn’t really assure a player anything. Players who advance to Final Stage are assured a Web.com Tour card for the following season, and the top 45 finishers (and ties) at Final Stage are assured a healthy number of starts in the first part of the 2017 Web.com Tour season. All through the stages there is no prize money until the end. It’s very possible to pay some $5,000-$7,000 in entry fees and expenses and see no return for your efforts.
Below are the final stage payouts for 2016.
I’ve seen countless times over the years that the players who make it to the final stage and finish near the bottom don’t get many starts if any in the upcoming season. The situation becomes if you do not make it to final stage you really have no great or easy options to give yourself in the next season. Depending on where you are your golfing career, players options are either play on past status, play mini tours, play other tours or try and Monday qualify for either Web.com events or PGA Tour events.
Playing mini tours doesn’t give you anything to carry over in terms of the next level of golf. When you play a mini tour event you show up for competitive reps, hopefully make some money, and go on to the next event or qualifier. It’s a not so glorious life that I saw firsthand for a full season back in 2012 from the mini tours and through all the stages. The end all statement: If you have the game you will find the way.
I think one of the best stories in terms of a guy finding his way is Patrick Reed.
Reed turned pro in 2011 and in 2012 he was a guy with no playing status anywhere. He did what I consider to be one of the hardest things to do and that is Monday qualify not once, but six times! For the people who don’t understand Monday qualifying, you show up by playing your way in on the previous Thursday or by having a certain level of status to get you right into Monday. Once you tee it up on Monday you have to be inside the Top 4 after 18 holes and playoff holes if needed. I would say depending on the event, you will see between 80-120 or more players vying for those 4 spots. On top of that you have to take it low as many times I have seen (-7) or (-8) not get through qualifiers. It’s a tall task of playing well and having some luck on your side. If you play conservative in Monday qualifiers you will get run over.
In 2012, Patrick won his First Stage, finished T1 at his 2nd Stage and was T22 at Final Stage after shooting a final round (-5) 67 to make it in on the number. The rest you can say is history based on his next four seasons and his rise to one of the best in the world.
Many people either love or hate Patrick Reed for different reasons, but it’s hard to argue about his output at the highest level of golf.
Some players never get through all the stages. Jordan Speith never made it out of his 2nd stage, but had exemptions in his back pocket to draw on. I have seen countless numbers of solid players not make it to the next level and it boggles my mind as to why. It’s a large amount of pressure to put on four rounds off golf in first, second, and final stage. Back in 2012 I was apart of a player getting through all three stages and to this day I can’t imagine the pressure he faced for those two months. The difference came down to one shot on two different occasions. It’s crazy to think you could play solid for 71 holes and miss a three foot putt on the last and have seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel.
Some players never get there and some turn out to be a Patrick Reed.
Follow today’s rising stars at they make their way
Go out and make some birdies.
Michael Romano Jr.