Moving forward, amateurs won't be able to compete for an LPGA card in the eight-round grinder known as Q-Series.
The LPGA announced that players competing in the final stage of their qualifying process will have to be professionals to compete for a shot at LPGA Tour status for the following year.
Up until this point in the Q-Series' relatively short existence dating back to 2018, amateurs were allowed to compete in the eight-round, two-tournament event and could then turn professional if they earned a card and wished to take up LPGA membership for the next season. Amateurs also had the option of deferring taking up their card until July 1 -- after the collegiate golf season the following spring -- giving them time to wrap up amateur careers and still enjoy the benefits of having earned a card.
Now, players will be required to declare up front if they're joining the paid set or not, uncertain how they'll fare in a difficult test.
All players who qualify for Q-Series through Stage II of Q School receive Epson Tour status, and amateur players can remain as amateurs with the ability to compete on the Epson Tour in the following year.
The LPGA says requiring professional status for Q-Series competitors will set an equal playing field for those existing pros looking to gain or regain LPGA status.
“LPGA Q-Series is the final stage to competing on the LPGA Tour, which is a fully professional tour that requires that its Membership competes as professional athletes,” said Ricki Lasky, Chief Tour Business and Operations Officer for the LPGA. “Ensuring all competitors have made the same choice to be a professional player elevates the Q-Series competition and creates the most appropriate options for athletes at different stages of their careers. Providing Epson Tour status to those athletes who advance through Q School but choose to retain their college eligibility provides an appropriate pathway for those players to complete their college season or career and then immediately compete on the Epson Tour.”
Of the 16 amateur players who earned LPGA Tour membership in 2018, 2019 and 2021 (Q-Series was not held in 2020 due to the pandemic), only Jennifer Kupcho and Maria Fassi (both in 2018) elected to defer status. The remaining 14 amateurs all immediately accepted LPGA Tour cards.
The 2022 LPGA Q-Series will be held Dec. 1-4 at Magnolia Grove (Crossings and Falls Courses) in Mobile, Ala., and Dec. 8-11 at Highland Oaks (Highlands and Marshwood Courses) in Dothan, Ala. Players finishing inside the top 45 and ties following the conclusion of the cumulative eight rounds of Q-Series will receive LPGA Tour status for the following season. All players finishing outside the top 20 and ties will also receive Epson Tour status.