How Does The Pro Am Work? Costs & Scoring Formats

There are many things that make professional golf unique as compared to other professional sports. One of those things is the pro-am tournament. Amateurs teaming up and playing with professionals is something that sets golf apart from other sports.

How does a pro am work? A pro-am is a golf tournament where professional and amateur golfers play together. They’re typically one-day events held during the week of a tour event. Most pro-ams use the best ball format and are held for charity. You could join if you are willing to pay the fees, ranging from $12,000 to $40,000 for Tour events.

This article will look at all aspects of the Pro-Am tournament.

  • What is a Pro-Am?
  • How Does A Pro Am Work?
  • How Does Pro Am Scoring Work?
  • How Can You Participate in a Pro Am?
  • How Much Does a Pro-Am Cost to Play in?
  • What is Golf’s Most Famous Pro-Am?

What is a Pro-Am in Golf?

A pro-am is typically a one-day event that takes place during the first part of the week of a PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, or other major Tour event. The event consists of teams made up of one Tour professional and anywhere from one to four amateurs.

If you consider other pro sports, such as the NBA, NFL, or MLB, they all only have competitions held with the pros playing. Golf is different. Through the pro-am, professionals and amateurs can tee it up together.

The pro-am has long been part of the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, and the other major tours.

The most famous pro-am has to be the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which you’ll learn more about below. In this event, you see celebrities such as Bill Murray and Ray Romano, and athletes like Aaron Rodgers and Steve Young tee it up.

You could even join them. if you can pay the entry fees, and they’re not cheap.

Read More: How Do Tournaments Work?

How Does The Pro-Am Work

When it comes to the pro am meaning, we’ll first cover how to participate and then we’ll cover the format of the tournament.

How Much Does a Pro-Am Cost to Play in?

Golf fans like yourself or celebrities can play in a pro am. But if you want to play in a PGA Tour or LPGA Tour Pro-Am it is by no means cheap.

According to, the average PGA Tour Pro-Am will set a foursome back $31,000. On the LPGA Tour, between $12,000 and $16,000 per foursome.

The following is a look at what the cost was to play in some noteworthy pro-ams in 2021. You can bet that the price is a little higher this year.

PGA Tour

  • AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AM – $40,000 per person
  • The Travelers Monday Pro-Am – $19,000 per foursome*
  • The Travelers Wednesday Pro-Am – $27,000 per foursome*
  • John Deere Monday Pro-Am – $12,000 per foursome*
  • John Deere Wednesday Pro-Am – $20,000 per foursome*


  • CME Group Tour Championship Pro-Am – $20,000 per foursome*


If you pay up, then you’d be randomly paired up with a golf pro, which would be announced at the pairing party before the event.

Pro ams can make dreams come true for a golf fan and could be an amazing gift and experience if you have the money for it.

Read more on Golf Span: What Are The Four Majors in Golf? Know Your Tournaments

What Is The Pro Am Scoring Format?

University of the Fraser Valley, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The pro-am format is usually best ball. Below, a few of the main highlights of the best ball format in a pro-am are explained.

All Golfers on the Team Play Their Own Ball

It is a given that the professional in the group will play their own ball throughout the entirety of the event. Each amateur will play their own ball throughout the round as well. If an amateur is playing a hole badly, and will likely make a much higher score than the others on the team, they can pick their ball up on that hole.

Your Team’s Score Is Based On The Best Score Per Hole

The best score on a hole from all players on the team will be recorded as the team score. The amateurs or am’s will be playing off their handicap, so their score on each hole will be the net score. Net score refers to the player’s score on a hole after their handicap is taken into account.

  • If an amateur golfer is an 18 handicap, they will get one stroke on every hole. So if they make a birdie 4 on a par 5, they will make a net eagle 3.
  • If an amateur golfer is a 20 handicap golfer, they will get one stroke a hole for handicap holes 1-16, and two strokes on the two hardest holes on the course.

You Play From The Appropriate Tee

The professionals will play from the tees they will play in the main tournament. The amateurs will play the appropriate tees based on factors such as handicap, gender, and even age. This will be determined by the tournament committee.

Do Pro-Ams Use Other Scoring Formats?

Occasionally, the format is a scramble. In a scramble format, the process works like this:

  • All players hit a tee shot from their designated tee.
  • The team will pick the best tee shot to use from all of the tee shots hit.
  • From the chosen tee shot, all players will hit the second shot from that spot.
  • They will continue this format until the ball is holed.

Check this out: What To Wear To A Golf Tournament: Tips for Men & Women

Golf’s Most Famous Pro-Am

Golf’s most famous Pro-Am is the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is different from most Pro-Ams. The teams are made up of one professional and one amateur, and for those that make the cut.

How many rounds are in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am? It is a 72-hole Pro-Am event in the team portion.

The amateurs (ams) that play are made up of celebrities, athletes, and titans of business.

This is a very entertaining event and one enjoyed by professionals, amateurs, and all those that watch it.

Pro-Am Etiquette and Suggested Do’s and Don’ts

For amateur golfers that get to play in a Pro-Am, it can be an exciting experience. It can also be one that can make you a little nervous.

The following are some etiquette tips and dos and don’ts to consider if you are lucky enough to play in a Pro-Am.

  • Pick it up- Probably one of the most important things to consider when playing in a Pro-Am is your pace of play. It will most likely be a slow round anyway, but you don’t want to add to that. If you are clearly out of a hole, and your score will likely not count, pick your ball up.
  • Stay cool and be yourself- Let’s say you get paired with Tiger Woods. Yeah, I know, that would be incredible…but also, potentially terrifying too! Just remember to keep your cool, and be yourself. Tiger and all of the famous golfers on professional tours are human too. Some players may even be just as nervous in meeting the ams in their group.
  • Don’t pester your pro- Do make it a point to interact with your professional. Feel free to ask him about how he got started in the game, or perhaps about his equipment. I would suggest refraining from asking them questions about technique, however. Let them make suggestions to you when they see fit. Remember, they are also preparing for their tournament later in the week too. Too many questions on technique may not be good for them.
  • Have fun and enjoy the moment- Remember to have fun and enjoy the moment! You are playing on one of the game’s best golf courses, in peak conditions, and with a top professional in the game, that is special stuff! Enjoy!

What Is The Purpose Of Pro-Am Events?

guys posing for a picture at a pro am golf event
University of the Fraser Valley, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

When learning, what does a pro am mean in golf, it’s also important to know why these events are held. There are many reasons why the PGA Tour and the other major Tours conduct Pro-Am events. They include the following:

  • Charitable Giving
  • Sponsor Appreciation
  • Business Networking

Charitable Giving

One of the main purposes of a Pro-Am is to give back to the local community. Through events run under the PGA Tour umbrella, including their Pro-Am, the not-for-profit organization is closing in on $4 Billion raised for charity.

Professional golf raises more money for charity than all other professional sports combined.

The game of golf itself is remarkably charitable. Beyond what the PGA Tour, and other professional tours give back to the community, the game has long been a mechanism for fundraising and giving back.

According to the American Golf Industry Coalition, golf as an industry generates an astounding $4 Billion annually for charity.

With the Pro-Am’s conducted in conjunction with PGA Tour events, one of the reasons for having them is to thank event sponsors. Without the numerous corporate sponsors that contribute to making professional golf events what they are, there would not be the success we see today.

The Pro-Am is a chance to thank those sponsors by giving them the opportunity to take part in a one-of-a-kind event. Playing with the world’s best golfers, on some of the best courses in the world, is quite an honor. It is a memorable experience for those lucky enough to take part.

Business Networking

Golf has always been seen as a great way of networking for business. Many deals are made on the golf course. For those that play in a Pro-Am, both amateur and professional participants, there are many potential opportunities for growing their brands.

The golf course is the perfect place to really get to know someone. With most Pro-Am events taking anywhere from 4 to 6 hours, you will have plenty of time to do just that.

Find out more: Everything You Need To Know About The Masters Tournament

In Summary

Know you should know the answer to the question, how does the pro am work? A pro-am is something special and unique to golf. Unlike all other sports, a pro am works in a way that allows both professionals and amateurs to play and compete together.

Pro ams are usually played in the Best Ball format with handicaps taken into account. This type of tournament allows the amateurs to be a major part of the final results. It is definitely not just the professional contributing.

Pro-am events serve many purposes. They are a chance to raise money for various local charities in the event’s host city. They are also an opportunity to thank the main event’s sponsors.

From the most famous, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, to the regular week-to-week Pro-Am events on the various Tours, it is not cheap to play in these. The benefits however are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and giving back to the community.


How Much Does It Cost To Play in AT&T Pro-Am?

It has been reported that it costs roughly $40,000 per person to play in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Just ponying up the money alone won’t get you in, however. You do need to be invited first to take part.

Can Anyone Play in a Pro-Am?

For most regular professional pro-am events, yes. In theory at least. As long as you can come up with the entry fee. However, some require you to be invited. While others are strictly open to those with ties to the event’s sponsors.

Do Pros Get Paid To Play in Pro-Ams?

Yes. The professionals that take part in the pro-am events do get paid a little bit to take part. Beyond that, they are highly encouraged to take part. It is in their best interest to do so as well. It puts them in a good light with the sponsors and fans.

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Brendon is Class A PGA Professional and founded Little Linksters, LLC, and its nonprofit arm, the Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development. He won 25+ prestigious industry honors, including the 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development Award. He graduated from the PGA of America Management Program and has a handicap index of 7.8.

He has played golf for over 40 years and currently plays twice a month at the Eagle Dunes Golf Club near Sorrento, Florida. He loves Srixon clubs and plays a ZX5 driver with Z 585 irons. He's written over 60 articles on GolfSpan and specializes in sharing tips to improve your golf game. You can connect with Brendon at LinkedIn, X, IG, FB, his website, or

  • Best score: 69
  • Favorite driver: Srixon ZX5
  • Favorite ball: Srixon Z Star
  • Favorite food at the turn: Turkey and cheese on white

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