If you thought the USGA was the only governing organization in golf doing screwy stuff, listen to this ridiculousness from the PGA of America.
First, a history lesson: Prior to the late 60s when tournament players really broke from the PGA of America, there were many more club pros playing on the professional circuit. Heck, guys like Sam Snead and Ben Hogan were club pros for most of their careers, as they didn’t make enough playing professional golf to do it full time (can you imagine?).
But with the big bucks brought by the television era, by the 1970s, the tour pro was a very different entity than the club pro. Indeed, anyone who has the skill to play professionally earns enough to do so full time today on the PGA Tour…and the Web.com Tour…and the European Tour, etc.
Club pros still compete, when they’re not too busy running their pro shops, attending to the membership, or conducting member guests. But nobody would suggest that the PGA of America events for its members are much more than an opportunity for the better club pros to whet their competitive whistles.
So when a veteran PGA Tour pro shows up to play a PGA of America event, it’s a little like the Boston Red Sox showing up to take on your beer league softball team.
Enter Omar Uresti, PGA Tour journeyman, never a winner, but veteran of 356 PGA Tour events. How exactly did Uresti come to tee it up against a bunch of club pros? Legally, it turns out, but sketchily nevertheless.
There are several classifications of PGA pro, and one of those classifications is A-3: PGA Tour member for more than 20 years. Now, prior to Uresti, nobody really used this classification to book entry in PGA of America events, but technically Uresti is a PGA pro.
Thus, he was able to enter the PGA Professional Championship. Of course, he won (and pocketed 50 grand in the process). And thanks to the victory, “O-Man” earns a spot in the PGA Championship.
Needless to say, this isn’t sitting well with PGA pros who think the tournament should be for, well, PGA pros, not PGA Tour journeymen.
.@PKLPGA I wonder if Uresti or Claxton ever run a golf tournament, bought shop merchandise, managed F&B? I'll bet my salary they haven't.
— Jeff Crabbe (@redskinsgolfpro) June 22, 2017
Here’s what the PGA of America had to say (which again isn’t likely to sit well with the majority of pros)
“The PGA of America has a diversified membership, which includes former and current Tour players. Omar is eligible to compete in our PGA Professional Championship because PGA Tour pros are eligible for PGA of America ‘Class A’ membership.
“He played more than 20 years on Tour. Once he was no longer playing on Tour, like any other PGA Member who had 20+ active years of PGA Membership, Omar became eligible for ‘Life Member-Active’ [and] therefore eligible to compete in the PGA Professional Championship, and in addition, hold PGA office and vote.
“Omar, like all other ‘Life Member-Active Members,’ is required to complete the Member Service Requirements of the Professional Development Program (continuing education and Association activities) over a three-year period.
“We congratulate Omar on his victory and look forward to seeing him compete this August at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club.”
And you thought the USGA was the only golf organization engaged in absurdity! Most Class A PGA pros have to complete years of training and study, often paying out of pocket. Most pros competing in the PGA Professional Championship sneak away to hit balls between lessons or before their pro shop shifts.
It simply isn’t appropriate for a former PGA Tour member to use a loophole to take a legitimate professional’s spot and make off with a pocket full of cash and a spot in a major championship.