Do amateurs get paid prize money when they compete on the PGA Tour?
PGA Tour

Do amateurs get paid prize money when they compete on the PGA Tour?

A photo of Nick Dunlap

Nick Dunlap is looking to make history at the 2024 The American Express, carrying a three-shot lead into the final round at PGA West and hoping to become the first amateur to win on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson in 1991.

No matter how he finishes on Sunday, Nick Dunlap made the 54-hole cut in the unique event. Will he earn prize money from the 2024 The American Express prize pool as a result? After all, the winner of this week's event will earn $1,512,000.

The short answer is no. Currently, Nick Dunlap competes in golf tournaments as an amateur, meaning he, like any other amateur competing in a professional golf tournament, is ineligible to earn prize money in a pro golf event. Players on the PGA Tour are typically paid only if they make the cut, but only professional golfers earn money.

No matter how Dunlap finishes, the prize money he would otherwise win is paid out to professionals in the field. Dunlap doesn't count toward the final payout, meaning he is skipped and not considered to be part of the payout. Were Dunlap to finish, say, fifth in the tournament, he would not be paid and the professional player finishing in sixth place will earn fifth-place money.

There is a circumstance where an amateur player can earn prize money. An amateur can earn or receive a spot into a professional tournament not predicated on them competing as an amateur player, and they can then declare themselves a professional golfer before the tournament begins. At that point, the amateur-turned-professional is then eligible to earn prize money. The newly minted professional golfer cannot then revert to amateur status after competing in the tournament.

Most amateur golfers who have no intention of pursuing a professional golf career will remain amateurs because it affects their eligibility for other competitions at the club and regional level. Many of these events explicitly exclude professional golfers, meaning amateurs are wise to stay as such unless they're planning on a career change.

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Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is a scratch golfer...sometimes.

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