Two Maine golfers, Jason Harris of Bath and Ryan Gay of Augusta, turned professional this season.

It is easy enough for a golfer to declare that he is becoming a tournament pro, but it is far more difficult for them to enter pro tournaments and actually make money.

For Harris and Gay it is a long road to the PGA Tour.

First there are pre-qualification tournaments, all of which were held this month. Finishing high in those events enables a golfer to move on to the PGA’s first qualifying stage which is four rounds conducted at 12 sites throughout the nation, all in October. Again a high finish is necessary to move on to the second qualifying stage, four rounds being held at six sites in November. Those fortunate enough to finish high there, become eligible for the final stage, which is six rounds of golf Dec. 12-17 at PGA West in LaQuinta, Calif. PGA and tour cards, known as exemptions, go the high finishers at the final stage.

For players like Harris and Gay, who were two outstanding Maine amateurs, they would have to play well in four consecutive events, including the Final Stage, which is professional golf’s most grueling test. All of this is known as “Q School” with the ‘Q’ meaning “qualifying.”

In order to get into the PGA qualifying mix, a lot of money must be spent on entry fees, travel and housing. Players like Harris and Gay need financial backing, as in sponsors, and then Lady Luck must come into play.

It’s an almost impossible qualification run for young golfers with no national amateur reputations. A better route to the PGA Tour probably is for players to join a satellite tour like the eGolf Professional Tour, which finances its prize money through players’ entry fees and the tour membership, a fee of approximately $2,000. That is a starting point for players like Harris and Gay.

The 2013 eGolf Tour has 23 tournaments, the last four of which will be played in the next four weeks. They are 72- and 54-hole events with entry fees ranges from $950-$1,195. A maximum of 162 players can compete. All eGolf competition is being held this year in three southeastern states — Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The current 2013 eGolf money leader has made $64,037, which tells you that no one is getting rich on that tour, but a lot of players are gaining valuable experience. Several current PGA Tour players — Billy Horschel, Robert Karlsson, Roberto Castro and Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey, to name a few — honed their PGA Tour skills on the eGolf Professional Tour, which formerly was known as the Tarheel Tour.

The PGA Tour is the major leagues of golf, which means the Tour is triple-A. That makes the eGolf Professional Tour double-A and the golf equivalent of the Eastern League. If baseball players can go from playing with the Portland Sea Dogs at Hadlock Field to the major leagues, it is similarly possible for golfers to go from eGolf to the PGA Tour. The odds, however, are heavily stacked against this happening.


• The Exotics Pro-Am Series will conduct its fifth and final event of the season Wednesday at Falmouth. Shawn Warren of Nonesuch River, who has shared the championship of one event and outright captured the title in the other three, is the tour leader, having amassed prize money of $7,675.50, more than doubling the earnings of second place John Hickson of Dick’s Topsham ($3,170) …

• The Maine State Golf Association’s schedule this week starts with a senior tour event Tuesday at Falmouth. Then there is a departure from the regular Friday-Saturday tournaments at the same site. Friday the tournament will be at Northeast Harbor, while Saturday’s event is at Kebo Valley.

• During the rest of October, players will have a choice on Fridays and Saturdays, as the MSGA offers tournaments at two sites. Also this month is the MSGA’s annual meeting Oct. 10 at Val Halla. The tournament season concludes Nov. 1-2 at Outlook.

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