When the PGA Tour eliminated Qualifying School, or “Q School” as it was commonly known five years ago, many in the industry worried it could slow down the number of precocious golfers who not only were getting tour cards but winning PGA Tour events at younger and younger ages.
Instead, what has happened is the average player age on the PGA Tour has dropped. According to the PGA Tour, the average player age on the PGA Tour’s top 125 was 32.2 in 2017, compared to 33.7 in 2012 when the change was instituted, representing a drop of 4.5 percent.
When you look at the increase of players in their 20s on the PGA Tour, the youth movement is even more stark. In the last 10 years, the number of golfers in their 20s with full PGA Tour membership grew from 31 in 2007, to 49 in 2017, an increase of almost 60 percent. The Tour’s first event of 2018 was indicative of the trend. At the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, the average age of the field was 29.7 – the first time since 1970 that it was under 30.
Q: Why are players better prepared to play on the PGA Tour?
A: While we do believe players are more prepared due to playing a full season on the Web.com Tour – we also believe this major youth movement is being inspired by the success of students from top golf academies in the U.S. who are truly training student-athletes like IJGA and BGGA.
Q: Where is this major youth movement (that shows no indication of slowing down) coming from?
A: Some claim it’s coming from the growing middle classes of Asia – Japan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and especially China and India – but if Bishops Gate Golf Academy, the emerging dominant force in junior golf, is any indication of where the rising stars come from – they are from every continent.
BGGA boasts 71 full-time students in 2017-18 hailing from 23 countries. While 38% are from from Asia, the U.S. is represented with 31%. Another 16% hail from Europe, 13% from Latin America and 3% from the rest of the world.
While students come from all around the world, they also range in age. The program starts with 8th graders and goes to Post Graduates with a large group stretched between 10th, 11th and 12th grade. The average age of students is 16.27.