Becoming a PGA Member: Steps 3, 4, & 5

In 2001, the PGA of America built an 11,000-square-foot Education Center next to the Center for Golf Learning and Performance.
In 2001, the PGA of America built an 11,000-square-foot Education Center next to the Center for Golf Learning and Performance.

I almost cost myself a chance to attend next month’s PGA Professional Golf Management (PGM) 2.0 Level 1 Seminar at the PGA Education Center in Port St. Lucie, Florida without my even realizing it. In my defense, in all my calls to the PGA Membership Information Services Center over the last couple of weeks, no one ever told me it could take up to five days to process my PGA Professional Golf Management Program Application.

Apparently, the reason it takes up to five days is because the PGA has to verify your employment with the PGA Section within which you’re employed. You have to be working at a PGA Recognized Golf Facility. That’s the key. Apprentices must maintain eligible employment throughout the PGA PGM Program.

The PGA PGM Application is where you register as a B-8 Apprentice (Assistant Golf Professional at a PGA Recognized Facility). The deadline to register for the August 8th Seminar I wanted to attend was July 13th, and because my application remained unprocessed, I missed the deadline.

However, the PGA doesn’t actually close the registration process until 10:00a ET the day after the registration deadline. Shout out to Membership Representative Gina Vance at the PGA of America. She’s been a pleasure to deal with. I’ve talked to her every day (sometimes more than once) for the past few days, and she personally registered me over the phone the morning after. Thank you Gina!

So what’s the lesson to be learned here? It’s to give yourself plenty of time to take and pass the Qualifying Test, register as an Apprentice, and still have time to register for the Level 1 Seminar before the entry deadline. It will save you a lot of stress and energy. Learn from my mistake!

Not surprisingly, a lot of people wait until the very last minute to register. I understand. Two-thousand dollars is a lot of money! When I spoke to Gina on the morning after the registration deadline, there were still 11 open spots (maximum enrollment for the Level 1 Seminar is 60 people) and two had already filled that morning.

Step 3: Playing Ability Test (PAT)
According to, the “Playing Ability Test (PAT) is a measure of golfing ability and means PGA Professionals have the skills needed to teach and grow the game.” You wouldn’t want to learn the game from someone who can’t play the game himself.

The 36-hole, one-day test at a PGA Approved Golf Course requires a target score within 15 shots of the course rating in order to pass. It’s as much a mental test as it is a physical exam. Several of my Golf Academy classmates and I passed the PAT on our first attempt back in March. The $160 total cost includes the $100 pre-registration fee as well another $60 paid on-site to cover the cost of green fees, cart fee, range balls, and lunch.

Cost: $160
Running Total: $458.99

Within a few weeks of registering as an Apprentice, you will receive your PGA Apprentice card in the mail.
Within a few weeks of registering as an Apprentice, you’ll receive a PGA APPRENTICE card in the mail.

Step 4: Register for the PGA PGM Program
The application process I mentioned above is in and of itself pretty tame. You have to print it out, have it signed by your Current Employer/Intermediate Supervisor, and then fax or email it back to the PGA. The following supporting documents must be included with the application or else registration may be delayed or the application may be returned unprocessed:

* Proof of the highest level of education – copy of diploma, an official transcript or verification of GED.

* If not a U.S. Citizen, a copy of Work Permit or Employment Visa or other documents from the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The last page of the application contains Payment Information, and this is where it gets a little hairy. To determine registration fees, which are based upon the month of registration, go to the Fees Calculator under Step 6 of “Steps to Become a PGA Professional Through the Apprentice Program” at to figure out what you owe.

It’s a combination of National Fees ($60), Section Fees ($250), Liability Insurance ($25), Life Insurance ($34), a Registration Fee ($200), and the Level 1 Online Course Access Fee ($560). You can pay by check or credit card. Now, all the money is really starting to add up.

Once your registration is approved, you will have access to the Level 1 courses through the PGA Knowledge Center. Your Education page at will also look slightly different. It’ll read, “You are in Level 1. You have passed your PAT.”

Cost: $1,129
Running Total: $1,587.99

Step 5: Register for the PGM 2.0 Level 1 Seminar in Florida
Usually, this is an online process, but in my case, I called and registered with PGA Membership Representative Gina Vance over the phone. Again, you can still register up until 10:00a ET on the day after the deadline either online or by phone.

The all-inclusive package includes five days of classes, airfare to West Palm Beach (from the city you prefer to fly out of), lodging for the week (it’s $500 more for your own hotel room if you don’t want to share with another Apprentice for the five days), ground transportation, and breakfast and lunch each day.

Michelle Smith from Premier Golf, LLC (licensed by the PGA) will email you your travel itinerary. You have 24 hours to approve it or the entire reservation will be cancelled. Once approved, the ticket is non-refundable. Any travel changes are handled by communicating directly with Michelle.

Approximately three weeks prior to the Seminar, you will receive an email memo detailing general information to assist you prior to your arrival in Florida as well as a list of apprentices attending the Seminar who are willing to share their email addresses for networking purposes. You should also read the How to Prepare manual found in the PGA Knowledge Center under the Resources tab.

Cost: $2,000
Running Total: $3,587.99

La Paloma
La Paloma is gracious enough to offset part of the cost of my certification following each level of completion.

Act of Kindness
La Paloma Country Club is kind enough to help offset part of the cost of my PGA Certification. In addition to paying my annual dues and Section Fees, I will also be getting a partial refund following completion of each level from Qualifying all the way up through Level 3. That means a lot, and it’s greatly appreciated!

Next On the Tee
Attend the PGM 2.0 Level 1 Seminar Monday, August 8th through Friday, August 12th at the PGA Education Center in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The Seminar Schedule is as follows:

Customer Relations – 8 hrs.
Introduction to Teaching and Golf Club Performance – 16 hrs.
Business Planning – 8 hrs.
Tournament Operations – 8 hrs.

Previous Steps
Step 1 – In order to become a PGA member, you first have to become a registered apprentice and go through the PGA Professional Golf Management (PGA PGM) Program. It takes up to three years to complete all 11 steps. Step 1 is pretty self-explanatory. To register into the PGA PGM Program, you have to register or re-register as an apprentice and complete a Background Check. (Cost: $58.99)

Step 2 – You’re not considered a PGA Apprentice until you satisfy all the requirements at the Qualifying Level and register as an apprentice. At the Qualifying Level, applicants must complete three online courses: Introduction to the PGM and the Golf Profession, PGA History and Constitution, and Rules of Golf 1 as well as pass a knowledge test based on the three courses. (Cost: $200)

PGA Qualifying Test – This 90-minute, 75 question test is administered by PSI Exam centers nationwide. The test covers three online courses: Introduction to the PGM and the Golf Profession, PGA History and Constitution, and Rules of Golf 1. A clean, unmarked copy of the Rules of Golf is permitted into the testing center and a score of 70% is required to pass. (Cost: $40)

Apprentices registered after January 1, 2010, can view and/or download PGA PGM 2.0 curriculum information online.

If you’ve been convicted of a felony, misdemeanor or equivalent, you should submit documentation to the PGA Membership Department to determine eligibility for PGA Membership prior to proceeding. Per the PGA Code of Ethics, certain transgressions are cause for permanent preclusion to PGA Membership.

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