Pro Golf: Selling Shares of Yourself
How Carry Golf is aiming to democratize investing in professional golfers.
Every Monday, I write a newsletter breaking down the business in golf. Welcome to the 14 new Perfect Putt members who have joined us since our last newsletter. Join 6,327 intelligent and curious golfers by subscribing below.
Today’s newsletter is powered by 1803 Golf.
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Hey Golfers —
One in 51,346.
Those are the odds of becoming a professional golfer in the United States.
The Professional Athlete Index published a study in 2021 that detailed the odds of becoming a professional golfer. Men from Sweden have the most favorable odds of becoming a professional golfer — one in 8,170.
And I think those odds are generous — but the study gives us some overall perspective.
The NCAA has 814 Men’s College Golf programs across its three divisions, while the NCAA offers 727 Women’s College Golf programs across the three divisions.
The above chart doesn’t include NAIA or Junior Colleges that offer golf programs.
NAIA Men’s Programs — 250
Junior College Men’s Programs — 212
NAIA Women’s Programs — 143
Junior College Women’s Programs — 98
Let’s take a look at Men’s Collegiate Golf. There are 1,276 Men’s College teams in the United States. Assuming the average roster size is ten leaves us with 12,760 Men’s Collegiate golfers.
Hundreds of collegiate men’s golfers join thousands of professional golfers every year in pursuing a PGA Tour card.
Several of my University of Northern Iowa teammates turned pro after their collegiate careers. Their first order of business? Raising money to compete professionally.
I chatted with Jordan Weber — arguably the greatest golfer in Northern Iowa history, about his experience turning pro.
Jordan turned pro in 2008 after a successful collegiate career. He worked with a friend of the golf program to draft a legal agreement on selling shares in his future earnings. He sold 52 shares and raised $26,000. For context — today, you need at least $40,000 per year to give professional golf a run.
This is how Jordan’s contract with investors was broken out:
Jordan would pay out 80% of his prize money until the investor received their initial investment back.
Once an investor was paid 100% of their initial investment, Jordan would pay out 30% of his prize money until the investor received 100% profit of their investment, i.e., $500 turned into $1,000.
Once an investor made 100% profit, Jordan would pay out 10% of his prize money to his investors.
Jordan bolstered the investor money and did a fundraiser at his nine-hole home course in rural Fillmore, Iowa. This resulted in an additional $6,000.
Jordan began playing the Dakotas Tour. The Dakotas Tour is a popular development tour that plays 19 events during the summer months and pays a total purse of $750,000.
Jordan had immediate success and won the South Dakota Open — winning $12,000.
But Jordan ran out of money in 2009 and quit competitive golf for six months. He worked in a marketing position for a chiropractor to save money.
He started playing again — winning three times on the Dakotas Tour and six times on the Moonlight Golf Tour before running out of money in 2012 and officially quitting.
After each year — Jordan would return money to his investors. But instead of taking the money, the investors would re-invest in Jordan. Something fairly common in his situation.
Reflecting on his professional career — it was amazing that Jordan made it four years on an initial investment of $32,000. His parents did help during the end with a couple of tournament entry fees.
Jordan was the ultimate grinder — he rented a room in our apartment during the summer of 2010 for $300 per month. Like so many professional golfers chasing a PGA Tour card — he didn’t practice at elite facilities, he didn’t have a strength coach, he didn’t have a mental coach, and he ate worse (not by choice) than I did as a college kid. Jordan had an elite work ethic — one of the best I have seen. And he was an exceptional talent.
But he didn’t have enough money.
And that is what Carry Golf is trying to solve. Money for early-stage professional golfers.
I’ve known Carry founder Donnie Dotson for the better part of a year. Donnie is one of the most impressive people I have met.
Donnie enlisted in the Marines out of high school in 1999 and was in Iraq during the 2003 invasion. Upon returning from Iraq — Donnie enrolled at the University of South Florida and studied Arabic. Donnie ended up back in the Middle East for several years — this time as a CIA-trained human intelligence officer gathering intel.
Donnie eventually left government work, graduated from Duke with an MBA, and then worked at Goldman Sachs in New York for three years.
So I asked Donnie, “why is a CIA-trained human intelligence officer with a Duke MBA getting into the golf space?”
Donnie had an interesting answer I didn’t see coming.
I love golf — I am a golf junkie. When the sports world was shut down in the spring of 2020 due to COVID, I found myself deep into the weeds of the Scottsdale Open. The Scottsdale Open took place in May of 2020 and a few PGA Tour players played the event. I assumed one of them would easily win. But they didn’t. That is when I realized how deep the talent is in professional golf.
As Donnie started chatting with folks in the golf industry — he confirmed that the talent level is deep in professional golf. But having money to get there is essentially a prerequisite.
Last spring — Donnie raised $600,000 to build out Carry’s proof of concept. Carry backed eight full-time professional golfers with the initial fundraise — $420,000 went to golfers.
The proof of concept went well, and now Carry has reached an exciting stage of its journey. Carry has selected ten golfers to invest in via crowdfunding. Carry formed Carry Golf Club LLC to support the crowdfunding campaign to manage distributions to the athletes and fan investors through the lifespan of the entity.
Carry has built a platform where casual fans can invest in golfers.
This is how it works:
Minimum investment of $250.
15% of players’ gross on-course earnings when they compete in tournaments where the purse is at least $1,500,000.
15% revenue share from managing entity, Carry: Athlete Investing Inc., from advertising and affiliate marketing revenues.
Carry is looking to raise $1,150,000 to support these ten golfers for two seasons.
It is estimated that 50 - 75% of professional golfers don’t have the necessary funds to compete right away. Without the necessary runway — golfers retire prematurely. And at the same time — most golf fans don’t have the opportunity to invest in golfers they believe can make it to the top. Carry is aiming to solve both scenarios.
When I told Jordan about Carry — he said it would have changed his outlook. Jordan said he was playing in the cheap stuff — the tournaments didn’t get him status anywhere. With more money, he would have focused on Q School, Monday Qualifiers, and tried to obtain status in Canada or Latin America to give him a better chance to work his way up.
Have yourself a great Monday. Talk to you next week!
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