Mini-tour Calculations

Hopeful pro golfers face harsh realities at this week's Reno Open
Mark Baldwin
Mark Baldwin
May 23, 2023

The Asher Tour is a California-based, long-running mini-tour. This week the circuit will host one of its largest events, the Reno Open.

The 54-hole tournament in the northwestern part of Nevada offers $18,000 to the winner and an exemption into the PGA Tour’s Barracuda Championship (also known as golf’s fifth major to cult followers). An exemption into a PGA Tour event for a mini-tour winner is a rare perk, and 150 golfers have entered the field seeking the opportunity. 

Tournaments such as this are held all over America throughout the year. Players without status on one of the PGA Tours rely heavily on these events for competitive experience with the goal of making a living of it. While it’s easy to see how the winner of the tournament makes money, how does the rest of the field fare? 

After 36 holes at the Reno Open, the field is cut to the top 35 percent and ties, or about 50 players. Every player who advances gets paid, but most won’t turn a profit. 

That’s largely because the entry fee is so steep. Professional members of the tour, or professional golfers who pay a membership fee for the season, ante up $1,395. Professional golfers who are non-members of the Asher Tour pay $1,595. A practice round and a three-night stay at the Eldorado Reno Hotel are covered in the entry fee. 

In a perfect world, where exactly 35 percent of the field makes the cut and there are no ties, all players advancing to the final day would receive at least their entry fee back. The more players who tie for the final position through 36 holes, however, the less likely the cut-making bottom-finishers at tournament’s end will be made whole.

Considering the travel costs to Reno, an extra night or two in a hotel, meals and the entry fee, most players are looking at tournament expenses of more than $2,000 for the week. Last year’s Reno Open had a field of 132 players, but only those finishing in the top 10 made more than $2,000. The second- and third-place finishers got $6,100 and $5,100, respectively.

A top-10 finish in an event such as the Reno Open requires high-quality golf. So does turning any sort of profit. 

The popularity of golf in recent years has made hosting a mini-tour event increasingly difficult. A tour pays a cost-per-player fee to the host course, or rents a course for a series of days at a set fee. Those costs have increased significantly in many golf markets around the U.S. and many facilities no longer want to close to public play for multiple days. Some major golf markets, like Phoenix, have hosted fewer mini-tour events this season than at any other time in recent memory.

Those realities make events like the Reno Open so much more important to professional golfers trying to move up the ladder. That’s especially true for the winner, who will get a shot at the big time in golf’s fifth major.

Subscribe to view premium articles

Unlock content
Unlock content
Unlock content