On the green: how the Korn Ferry Tour has expanded opportunities in the game of golf


Mini-tour professional golf was first introduced in 1990 as the Ben Hogan Tour. The main purpose of this was to expand the network of professional golf. Since then, the mini-tour under the PGA has cycled through many name changes including Nike Tour, Buy.com Tour, Nationwide Tour, Web.com Tour, and most recently, the Korn Ferry Tour. The Korn Ferry Tour is comparable to the minor leagues of professional baseball. The ultimate goal for its participants is to receive their PGA Tour cards and remain on that tour for the rest of their careers.

In the early summer of 2019, the Web.com Tour transformed into the Korn Ferry Tour, where it has since become much more popular in the golf world. Amateur golfers must take a different route to become a professional. Unlike the NBA, NFL, or MLB, there is no draft for professional golf. One must climb their way up the totem pole to achieve this status. 

It has been established that the main goal for these lower-level players is to reach the PGA Tour; but how is that done? 

The fact is, there are a million different ways that players can get themselves on tour. The simple answer is to finish in the top-25 on the money list for the season. This grants the player a year’s worth of exemption on the PGA Tour. Another common way is to earn a sponsor’s exemption into the field of a PGA event. This can be done by applying or qualifying for the tournament just a day before it commences. Once into the event, the player must place high enough to earn FedEx points. FedEx points on the PGA Tour are similar to the money lists on smaller tours; however, it involves a lot more money. The player must then accumulate enough FedEx points to earn exemptions into bigger PGA events, and play well to make a case for a PGA card. 

It is a grueling journey for aspiring professional golfers, and many never make it. Between the constant travel and tournament expenses, it’s a back-breaking lifestyle. However, the reward for success is unparalleled to any other feeling in the sport of golf. Few players can come straight out of college and immediately make an impact on the PGA Tour. In the past couple of years, golf has seen this feat accomplished by players such as Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff. 

The evolution of mini-tour events underneath the PGA Tour has expanded the opportunities for golfers around the world to live out their dreams. The growth of the Korn Ferry Tour and other miniature tours beginning to form is proof that this style of professional play is here to stay and improve the game of golf.