The Struggles of getting a PGA Tour Card

Jamie Broce
Living in Indiana my whole life, I have had the chance to witness many great players, especially on the amateur golf side of things. Whether its playing golf with my old teammate Jeff Chapman, getting waxed at the IGA Match Play Championship in 2000 by Lee Williamson, or watching Jamie Broce hit balls on the range at the U.S. Open Local Qualifier in French Lick, IN, I have had the chance to see many great players in the making.

The Indianapolis Star recently wrote up an article on Jamie Broce and his struggles of trying to get his PGA Tour Card.

I was just entering college at The University of Evansville when Jamie Broce was finishing up his Senior year at Ball State University. He had broken several school records previously held by the likes of Scott Steger of Pebble Brooke Golf Course. He has won the IGA Indiana Open 2 times (2002 & 2003) and currently plays on the Nationwide Tour.

The Indianapolis Star wrote up an article on Jamie and his current experience with mini tour play and his drive to get a PGA TOUR card. He has been attempting to get a tour card for 7 years.

The below article can also be downloaded as a PDF in case the online article is eventually removed.


Broce keeps driving toward goal: PGA Tour

By Phil Richards

As a senior at Ball State University in 1998-99, Jamie Broce tangled several times with Kent State’s Ben Curtis in Mid-American Conference golf competitions. Broce beat him every time.

Yet Curtis, as the 2003 British Open champion, is now in the second season of a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, while Broce is only conditionally exempt on the Nationwide Tour. While Curtis tees it up today in the $5 million Shell Houston Open, Broce will be playing the Nationwide’s $450,000 Virginia Beach Open.

Making it to the PGA Tour can be a grind, a succession of wearisome seasons of hard travel, cheap hotels, marginal golf courses and miserly and irregular paydays. Broce, 28, has been chasing his dream for most of seven years now, through backwater towns like Warner Robins, Ga.; Greenville, S.C.; Paducah, Ky.; and Owasso, Okla.

It’s a long way from Paducah to Pebble Beach.

“It’s been a struggle at times, and yet I’ve had enough successes to hang in there,” said Broce, an Indianapolis resident and two-time Indiana Open champion. “There have been many times I’ve wondered. I have a family. That’s my priority. That’s more important than just playing golf, and I’ve missed some things that I definitely regret.”

The Nationwide Tour had no event the week of March 7, so Broce went back to his roots, back to the NGA Hooters Tour, where he has played the past three seasons. He lost a four-hole playoff in The Landings NGA Hooters Classic in Warner Robins, Ga. He earned $10,697.

Omar Uresti made just about the same money the same day. He tied for 73rd in the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic. Winner Padraig Harrington pocketed $990,000.

That’s a big carrot. Broce beats on.

Why not? It took Loren Roberts six years to qualify for the PGA Tour. He has earned more than $14 million. Fred Funk toiled eight years before he earned his tour card. Funk has won seven tournaments and nearly $17 million. Tom Lehman? More of the same: After 10 years of striving, Lehman finally reached the big time. He has won five titles, including the 1996 British Open, and more than $16 million.

“A lot of times it takes a couple years to get out here,” Curtis said. “It’s only a matter of having a couple good weeks at tour school. All of a sudden, you’re good to go.”

Curtis played the Hooters Tour in 2001 and ’02, then had a couple of good weeks at the PGA Tour’s 2002 Qualifying School. With earnings in excess of $2 million and a range of fat endorsement contracts, he’s definitely good to go.

Of course, it’s not just about money.

“This is who Jamie is,” said Darci Broce, his wife of seven years. “This is what he does. This is the talent God has blessed him with.”

It can easily cost more than $100,000 to play a season of tour golf. Broce has three Indianapolis-area sponsors he declined to identify, and he cuts corners for them.

He carried his own bag on the Hooters Tour. He shared rooms, often with Chad Collins of Cloverdale, Ind., who also has moved up to the Nationwide Tour. The Nationwide requires caddies, so Broce has taken his younger brother, Jeff, on as his partner. Jeff is on break from his studies at IUPUI.

Broce doesn’t fly. He drives from event to event in his 2002 Chevrolet Impala. The odometer reads 77,000, and he will drive another 35,000 this season.

It’s all part of the climb. When you most need it, on the way up, money is at its scarcest. Broce is grateful to have signed a contract this year with Titleist: The equipment manufacturer supplies product and a stipend.

But again, it’s nothing compared to the big tour. Broce estimates that a rank-and-file PGA Tour member earns $150,000 to $300,000 before he even tees it up, depending on his contacts.

You do what you have to do. During years past, Broce mixed the Hooters Tour with a two-day event here and a three-day event there. He has won the Irvin Cobb Championship in Paducah each of the past two years. His check was $7,000 in 2003, $8,000 last year.

“I’m glad to see that he’s stuck with it,” said Bo Van Pelt, a Richmond, Ind., native who played lots of amateur golf with Broce. “A couple of funky breaks here and there and he could be on (the PGA) Tour.

“If he has a good tournament or two this year, top 10, top five, he’s going to realize, ‘You know what? This isn’t that big of a deal.’ ”

That’s what happened to Van Pelt, who now resides in Tulsa, Okla. He had a couple good finishes in Nationwide events. He realized he had done nothing superhuman, nothing out of the ordinary. He realized he belonged.

Each year, the top 20 money winners on the Nationwide Tour earn their PGA cards. Van Pelt finished fifth in 2003. He earned $1.7 million on the ’04 PGA Tour.

That’s the battle. Broce is a big, if sometimes wild, hitter and a deft putter. He has the game.

“It’s taken me a while to realize that these guys are not that great; they’re just people,” he said. “The guys it’s taken so long to get through, I don’t think it’s that they’re any less talented. I just think their minds were at a different stage.

“At some point, they just weren’t scared anymore. I don’t know how to put it. I just haven’t stepped through all the way to find out.”

Maybe this is the year.

Broce was an academic All-American at Ball State. He was a 3.7 student. He earned a degree in business and finance. He has exceptional personal qualities and has amassed a range of contacts in golf and business.

He admits he has thought a lot about his career and his future, his family’s future. When is enough? Is there a timetable?

“Not verbally,” he said.

Jamie and Darci have two sons. Peyton is 5, Preston 11/2.

The packing, the driving, the hotel rooms and restaurant meals, the ups and downs of tournament golf, those a person can tolerate. It’s the goodbyes that never get easier, and until you get to the PGA Tour, there isn’t money, the first-rate day care program, the wherewithal to bring mom and the kids along.

Darci compares it to the life of the career military family. When Jamie is gone, he is gone 24-7. When he is home, he is home 24-7.

“Jamie and I, when we got married, we knew what we wanted to do together,” she said. “It has to be a team effort because both parties have to sacrifice so much.”

Source: Indianapolis Star


Download the PDF Article: Jamie Broce – Broce keeps driving toward goal: PGA Tour

Jamie is an incredible player, but this article just solidifies just how hard it really is to get on the PGA Tour and just how good those players are.

Like he said:

“At some point, they just weren’t scared anymore. I don’t know how to put it. I just haven’t stepped through all the way to find out.”

many mini tour players just don’t have that mental toughness or they currently have a fear of moving onto the next level. I haven’t followed, in detail, Jamie Broce’s career over the years, but I think he will eventually pop through that ‘wall’ into the PGA TOUR.

Good luck to him.