What it takes to make it as a touring pro golfer

Travel, steep expenses, and hope fuel first-year pro golfer Davis Bryant

By Jim Bebbington

Professional golf is a tough gig.

Tournament success is very hard to achieve. The travel is relentless. The level of shot-making required to consistently score well is difficult for most mortals to comprehend. The money at the game’s highest levels can be life-altering. You get to compete on some of the greatest courses in the world. But you can only sleep in so many motels and eat road-Chipotle so many times before the day-to-day life starts to get old.

Davis Bryant of Aurora is starting this month on his journey as a touring professional golfer.

Bryant was a high-school phenom and 2017 Colorado High School player of the year. He went on to five years playing on the Colorado State University golf team, finishing with team records for career number of rounds at par or better (80) and rounds in the 60s (35).

His entire family is golfy – his dad Matt is a career teaching and club management professional at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club, his sister Emma plays on the University of Denver golf team and his mother Julie is the tournament director for the Inspirato Colorado Open tournaments each summer.

Davis Bryant

“I grew up (at Green Valley Ranch) and that’s where I learned how to play,” he said recently from his grandparent’s home in Arizona that he is using as a base camp to begin tournament play this winter. “The game certainly wasn’t forced on me or my sister. Growing up at the course, I think I remember having success at 9 or 10 years old. I remember having fun and remember realizing I’m a little decent at golf. I had a very successful summer before my sophomore year at high school, qualified for junior Americas Cup tournament. That summer I realized my potential. It wasn’t one event or tournament. I (just) always enjoyed practicing and being a student of the game. I love watching golf and being around it. Once I saw some success and consistently shooting around par or better it didn’t feel like a job or work – obviously it feels like work now and it’s a job – I felt it was something I had a passion for.”

Bryant is just one of many Colorado golfers trying to succeed professionally this year.

Jack Castiglia from Lakewood, who played at Northern Colorado last year, is out there on the Asher Tour this winter alongside Bryant. So is Trenton Leany, an amateur from Fruita, CO., near the Utah line. Gunner Wiebe, son of PGA Tour winner Mark Wiebe, drove an Uber in Denver for a while before going back to touring golf; he’s on the European Tour in 2024.  Becca Huffer of Denver played on the LPGA’s Epson Tour last year, and this year earned partial qualification for LPGA Tour events. Derek Fribbs of Thorton, a 2013 CU grad and golf team member, won a tournament on the All-Pro Tour in 2022 and played in four tournaments last year. AJ Ott of Fort Collins, Jim Knous of Littleton, whose PGA Tour career was sidelined by a wrist injury, and Bryant all made it to the second stage of the Korn-Ferry Q-School last fall. None made it to the finals.

Colorado sends out its best every year, and many have plodded the same path Bryant is heading out on. But with the glare of TV lights and huge paychecks dominating so much of golf coverage, his experience will be a window for readers on what the majority of young touring professionals go through.

His own father, Matt, opted out of touring golf early. A college golfer himself, he turned pro in 1996 but almost immediately chose a career path of working in the club industry. He began as an assistant teaching pro and has risen through the ranks to now being the general manager at Green Valley Ranch.

“Travel wasn’t really up my alley,” he recalls. “I never had a burning desire to play golf on the road as a touring professional. After kids (are born), your priorities change.”

To play this year Bryant first needed to raise between $75,000 and $100,000 to fund travel and entries for his first year. He got backing from family and a host of Colorado investors. Combined with plans to share hotel rooms with other young pros and every money-saving trick he can think of, he has enough to get started. He’s going to play in two mini-tours this year at least – the Asher Tour on the West Coast, and then the All-Pro Tour in Arkansas, Missouri and Texas this spring.

From June to August, he hopes to have qualified for the PGA Tour Americas events in Canada and Latin America. Then, as he did last fall, he wants to head back to Q-School, the insanely competitive annual tryout for a handful of PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour cards.

He expects to compete in about 20 tournaments this year before the Q-School regimen begins.

“I’m working on how you prepare best for tournaments,” he said. “I have a lot of experience but you’re traveling a lot of tournaments, you’re by yourself, you have to fly yourself or drive yourself week in or week out. It’s a lot different than college golf where you really with your buddies for a week, where now we’re trying to make a living out of this game. It certainly is a little bit more challenging and different. I don’t have any scar tissue right now.”

Colorado AvidGolfer will bring reports from Davis Bryant’s rookie season to readers all year in 2024


Colorado AvidGolfer Magazine is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via coloradoavidgolfer.com.

Contact Colorado AvidGolfer Content Director Jim Bebbington at [email protected]

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