Club Pro vs. Tour Pro: What's the Difference?

The terms "club pro" and "tour pro" are used to designate two different types of jobs, two different types of golfers who make their livings in golf. And typically, a golfer who is one of the two types is a lot more likely to be famous than the other.

What's the difference between a club pro and a tour pro? At it simplest, this:

  • A "club pro" is a professional golfer who works at a golf course or similar golf facility.
  • A "tour pro" is a professional golfer who makes his or her living by playing tournaments on pro golf tours.
The two terms are not mutually exclusive: A tour pro might also, or occasionally, work at a golf facility. A club pro who is a good-enough golfer might occasionally play in a tournament on a pro golf tour, or attempt to qualify for such a tournament.

In fact, it really wasn't until the 1970s that many of the tour pros who played on the PGA Tour weren't also working club pro jobs. The farther back in time you go, the larger the percentage of tour pros who also held jobs as club pros, because there wasn't enough money in tournament golf to focus exclusively on that. In the 1920s, there probably were zero tour pros who didn't also earn money in some way by affiliation with a golf course or facility, most by actually working at such a facility when not playing tournaments.

What do clubs pros do? They are the men and women who keep golf courses, golf clubs, golf driving ranges and practice facilities, and golf pro shops running. They work as directors of golf, head professionals, assistant professionals, golf instructors, pro shop managers and other positions.

Tour pros, meanwhile, play on (or attempt to play on), the world's professional golf tours. Those include the PGA Tour, European Tour, LPGA Tour, Korn Ferry Tour, Champions Tour, Symetra Tour, Ladies European Tour, Asian Tour, Japan Tour (men's and women's) and Korean Tour (men's and women's), among others.

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