The difficulty of making it pro

Head coach T.L. Brown talking strategy out on the golf course. Photo credit: T.L. Brown

Head coach T.L. Brown talking strategy out on the golf course. Photo credit: T.L. Brown

Anyone who ever played sports as a child has dreamed about it. Taking the field in the World Cup, hitting the court wearing the jersey you idolized as a kid or hearing the crack of the bat as you get your first hit in the major leagues.

Thousands of children dream of turning their after-school hobby into a profession, but as statistics will tell you, even if you make it onto a college team the chances of going pro are very small.

In golf, the Professional Golfer’s Association tour is revered as the highest level one can reach. Holding a membership card is your token that you’ve truly made it. But getting into qualifying rounds alone is no small feat. Before you can even hope to get to the PGA there is a completely different tour you must get into first, the tour, and before that you have to be accepted to what is known as Q-school or place in a secondary-type tour, such as the Nationwide tour.

Our very own T.L. Brown, head coach for Chico State’s men’s golf team, knows firsthand the difficulties of trying to break through that glass ceiling.

Brown had been associated with the PGA from 1993-2002 and before that played collegiality with Washington State and the University of Idaho. It was at the University of Idaho where he was named most valuable player both in 1991 and 1992.

Although he may not have found his place as a professional golfer, Brown has most definitely found his calling as a golf professional. Since taking over the men’s golfing program in 2007, he has turned the Chico State men’s team around and given the school the high-standing reputation of one of the premier men’s golfing programs in the country.

Head coach T.L. Brown cheers on his team during a match. Photo credit: T.L. Brown


Brown however does attribute some of his coaching style to his experience trying to become a professional golfer.

“It really changed the game for me,” Brown said.

Brown also notes key differences in playing golf in college and making it a profession.

“A good college golfer may be someone who is a little rusty, he may not hit the ball very well but will find a way to score 5 over par or 5 under par, and say ‘I didn’t have my best stuff, but I never gave up.’ Whereas a professional makes golf his entire life.”

Throughout his time trying to make it into the PGA, Brown faced many obstacles.

“Finances for sure…I had to find investors, and being only 22 or 23 most people said no. They take your dream and say ‘no, you can’t do that,'” Brown said.

Just as it is with any sport, turning your childhood hobby into a career requires a lot of devotion, patience and money. Even those who show such promise may never get close.

Brown learned that those who do make it that far are truly blessed and if ever someone came to him with the same dream he had, the best advice he could give is, “Chase the dream,” Brown said.

Gabriella Bermudez can be reached at [email protected] or @gabbybermudez2 on Twitter.