What Success Looks Like for a Rookie

Last Updated Jan 26, 2011 1:42 PM EST

Scott Stallings's business is golf. He's blogging for BNET as he travels about 300 days a year playing on the PGA Tour. Click here to find all of Scott's posts.
SAN DIEGO, Calif. --

Here's the cold, hard, economic reality of being a rookie on the PGA Tour: I can play on par -- better even -- and still not finish in the top 70 to make the cut. And not making the cut means I make zero money in a tournament.

I've now played two PGA events and earned precisely $0 on the course. I played much better in Palm Springs last week than I did in Honolulu the week before, but I missed the cut by two strokes. When you're playing against the best players in the world, good isn't good enough.

I will play roughly 30 events this year and my fate ultimately rests on how much money I make at the end of it all. At this point, it's pretty easy to start thinking that the odds are against me.

But -- and here's the part where I see the glass as half full -- when you're playing in tournaments where first place nets the winner, on average, $1 million or more, even when the purse gets divided among the top 70 players (including ties), you only need a few good weeks to make sure you keep your spot on the Tour for next year. Here's how it will all shake out in the end: The top 125 players keep their PGA Tour cards for another year; the next 25 players are conditionally exempt on the Tour, meaning they can play events only on a space-available basis; and players who finish between 151-200 head back to the lower Nationwide Tour the following year.

My view this week
When it comes to what I want to accomplish this year, I'm keeping it pretty simple:

  1. Financial: Make as much money on the course as possible
  2. Performance: Play myself into upper-echelon events like Majors and Invitationals
You'll notice "winning the PGA Tour" is not one of my goals. That goes without saying... but one thing at a time.

For now, onto the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego. The weather is beautiful and the course suits me -- it's long from tee to green. (And, yes, Tiger will be there, in case you were wondering.)