Is Bypassing College To Turn Tour Pro A Prudent Choice?

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The road to riches and fame is alluring but also a precarious rocky road. In golf, there are no guarantees (outside of some promised sponsor exemptions) as you have to earn your way to the Big Show via mathematical reality.

18-year-old Austin Connelly from Irving, Texas carries dual citizenship in the U.S. and Canada. He was on the Golf Canada Natioanl Amateur squad and is exempt from the pre-qualifying stages for its Q-School via making two cuts this year on the PGA Tour.

Committed to the University of Arkansas, Connelly then asked several Tour players–including Jordan Spieth–about their thoughts on going pro immediately.

The result? Goodbye Arkansas. Hello, Mackenzie Tour’s PGA TOUR Canada’s Great Waterway Classic. Anyone heard of the Mackenzie Tour? I surely did not.

Oh, and he coincidentally signed with Spieth’s management company Lagardère Unlimited.

“I knew my path was not going to be by the traditional route. I felt it was time to be a full-time golfer,” Connelly explained. “I feel like my game is already good enough to be out here, it’s just a matter of taking advantage of opportunities.”

He lost in the first round of the U.S. Amateur last week, but said if he had made it to the finals, he would have stayed an amateur in order to participate in the Masters.

“That’s too good an opportunity to pass up,” he said.

“At some of the amateur events, you find yourself bored. It’s such an incredible atmosphere on TOUR and on the amateur circuit sometimes you’re not playing in front of anybody, even though you’re playing these incredible course,” Connelly said. “Once you get a taste of the TOUR, that’s where you want to be.”

There are certainly successful examples of young bucks going pro and bypassing college. The 2014 Euro Ryder Cup team had only one player attend college (Graeme McDowell). But that Tour is far chummier than its PGA Tour counterpart. The competition isn’t as stout either. Danny Lee learned over on the Asian Tour.

Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods at least attended college for a bit. Have fun. Be a kid. And if you consistently beat the other college golfers, then go pro. Which makes you wonder what Jordan suggested to Connelly.

Austin Connelly is a good kid from a great family. And sure, the lure of the Tour is strong and intoxicating. But, there’s plenty of time for him to mature a bit before swimming with the professional sharks. Ty Tryon is the leading example of why you shouldn’t rush it when he infamously attempted to (while receiving millions in endoresments) gain Tour status before burning out in quick fashion.

Hopefully, this kid made the right decision.


Written by Rick Arnett, posted on Thursday, August 27, 2015

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