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What Paul Dunne Needs To Do To Become A Professional Golfer

Conor O'Leary
By Conor O'Leary
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It's been quite a week for Paul Dunne.

Last Wednesday he was a name that only a small number of people had heard of. By Monday his name was on the front page of national newspapers and had features being dedicated to him during the main news.

Many people think Dunne's brilliant exploits during the Open mean that it will be only a matter of time before he turns professional and ends up joining the likes of Shane Lowry, Rory McIlroy et al at the big golfing tournaments on the professional tour.

In reality though, the decision is much tougher than that.

While it's easy to just declare yourself as a golf professional, being eligible to actually play in the tournaments is another thing entirely.

To be a successful professional golfer you need a Tour card. Only 110 golfers qualify for a tour card on the European Tour every year. Given that Dunne is officially ranked as the World's 896th golfer, it's by no means certain that he can get a card.

There are two main ways that a golfer can win a card:

  1. Earn enough money on the tour the previous year
  2. The dreaded Q-school
Paul Dunne Professional: Q-School

Q-school features over 1,000 talented golfers playing 252 holes trying to claim one of just 25 places on the European Tour - it should really be designated as a last resort.

Unfortunately, the other option usually requires a current Tour card to gain enough in prize money.

Paul Dunne Professional: Tour Invites

There is one other method for non-Tour card players to play in tournaments - sponsorship invites.


When would a new-professional gain a sponsorship invite? After something like a performance at the Open that gets people talking.

Paul Dunne has a chance right now - if he wants to turn pro - to make the most of invitations and start earning money to earn a tour card. This is what Graeme McDowell meant this morning when he said:

He needs starts and has an opportunity between now and the end of the season to perhaps get his European Tour card and those extra five weeks could be beneficial to him.

Both Dunne and his father have indicated that he will play in the amateur version of the Walker Cup in which Ireland and Great Britain face off against the US, similar to what Rory McIlroy did in 2007 after winning the Silver medal at the Open.

That year, McIlroy also waited until after the Walker Cup (which was in Royal County Down near McIlroy's home town) before turning professional. McIlroy needed just three invitations to win his tour card after recording finishes of 42nd, third and fourth.

By playing in the Walker Cup, Dunne is forfeiting the chance to capitalise on being fresh in people's minds and earning invites to play in tournaments that include the European Masters, the Czech Masters, and the KLM Open and a combined prize money of €9.6 million.


This will leave Dunne with just three tournaments to gain his card before he has to play in the first stage of Q-school - including the Alfred Dunhill Links which has two rounds in St. Andrew's.

While the Walker Cup is a special event, McDowell made his feelings clear about what Dunne should do:

If he had a good finish I don't know what he would have needed to have waited for the Walker Cup for.

The Walker Cup is one of the fondest memories of my career but it means nothing as soon as you press the professional button.

Should Dunne take the plunge now, or play in the Walker Cup?

See Also: The Paul Dunne Jordan Spieth Comparisons Keep Rolling In

Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE



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