Golf Pro vs. Pro Golfer: What's the Difference?

You say golf pro, I say pro golfer. Are we talking about the same thing? Are the terms "golf pro" and "pro golfer" synonymous, or do they mean different things? The answers are yes, and sometimes.

One way of answering the question is this: When casual golfers and fans, or non-golfers, use the terms, they are typically interchangeable. But when serious golfers use the terms, they can connote different things.

By their dictionary definitions, however, golf pro and pro golfer mean the exact same thing: They apply to any golfer who earns money by playing the game. So it certainly is not wrong to use the terms as synonyms.

But we said that to serious golfers the terms can connote different things. What do we mean by that? It boils down to this: "Golf pro" is a term that serious golfers use to mean those men and women who work as professional golfers at golf courses, driving ranges, pro shops and similar facilities. "Pro golfer" is a term that serious golfers use to mean those men and women whose livelihood is earned by playing tournament golf.

If, for example, you read the sentence, "Molly Hinojosa is a golf pro," and you are reading it in a magazine that covers golf, that probably means she is a club professional. If that golf magazine writes that "Molly Hinojosa is a pro golfer," however, it probably means she plays on a pro golf tour.

That distinction is not followed 100-percent of the time by serious golfers. It's always OK to use the terms interchangeably, given that their dictionary definitions make them synonymous. Just keep in mind that the terms can carry the connotations mentioned above, and are sometimes used by golfers to mean two different things.

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