Except at the highest levels, professional golfers must pay entry fees to play in tournaments. It may seem counterintuitive, but a player at the top of golf’s food chain often doesn’t have to pay an entry fee, because expenses for high-profile tournaments are covered by sponsors and TV networks. Entry fees often increase as you move down golf’s ladder of success, in part because the fees fund the tournaments’ prize pool. All fees quoted below are current, as of the date of publication.
A PGA Tour player who’s exempt from qualifying doesn’t have to pay entry fees for Tour events. He does pay a $100 initiation fee, then $100 in annual dues. The only expense he must pay to play in a tournament is a mandatory $50 locker room fee. Most professionals competing in a pre-tournament qualifying event pay entry fees of $450 apiece, except for Champions and Web.com Tour players ($100 each) and non-exempt PGA Tour members (no entry fee). If a player who is not a member of the PGA qualifies for a PGA Tour event, he must pay what the Tour terms “limited dues” of $50, but he pays no other entry fee.
LPGA Symetra Tour
The LPGA Symetra Tour—a developmental circuit for the LPGA Tour, previously known as the LPGA Futures Tour—charges all golfers a $500 entry fee for each tournament. To play in a qualifying tournament, Symetra Tour members pay $200, amateurs invited by the tournament sponsor pay $230, and non-LPGA players pay $500.
The largest of the mini-tours in the United States, the SwingThought Tour (a consolidation of the former NGA and eGolf Tours), includes four separate regional tours (with additional tours to be added in the future) and one national series tour. They charge an annual membership fee of $1500 or a 90-day membership fee of $750. Entry fees vary for individual National Series tournaments, with members paying from $400–$975, while non-members pay $500–$1,275. State series tournament fees also vary. The Carolina Series has tournament entry fees ranging from $175–$850 for members and $250–$1150 for non-members. The Florida State Series has tournament entry fees ranging from $175–$700 for members and $200–$900 for non-members. The Georgia State Series tournament entry fees range from $400–$850 for members and $550–$1150 for non-members, while the Texas State Series range from $175–$750 for members and $250–$900 for non-members.
Other Pro Tours
Competitors pay $399 to play in Canadian Women’s Tour events. OnCore Gateway Tour members pay between $299–$599 for the season, and depending on the type of event, can pay from $565–$830 + a 3% processing fee. Non-members pay $690–$955 + a 3% processing fee. Members of the Golden State Tour, a smaller California series, pay a $210 entry fee for 18-hole tournaments, $420 for 36 holes, $695 for 54 holes, $840 for 72-hole events. Non-members pay $220, $445, $750, and $895 respectively, for each level. Membership requires players to donate or raise $500 in funds to support tour operations.