inside the ropes

Although it is officially the feeder circuit to the PGA Tour – and therefore offers a key to its abundant riches – the Korn Ferry Tour has never really been a viable pathway for South African rookie golfers. While some might end up there at some point, our players have traditionally launched their careers closer to home, on familiar courses and against familiar faces on the Sunshine Tour.

Better players then advance through the ranks, first to the Challenge Tour, then the DP World Tour and ultimately to the pinnacle of professional golf, the PGA Tour. It’s a long route to the top, but the spoils are certainly worth it.

This year, South Africa’s Aldrich Potgieter has a chance to bypass all these steps and play his way directly on to the PGA Tour. Having gained his Korn Ferry Tour card courtesy of a win in the Second Stage of Q-School, the 2022 British Amateur champion will spend his first full season as a professional golfer traversing North and South America.

It’s a daunting prospect for any golfer, never mind a 19-year-old rookie.

“I didn’t think it would happen this fast,” says Potgieter, referring to the fact that barely two years ago he was just beginning to make a name for himself as a promising junior in the northern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia.

I’ve played at three Majors, so it doesn’t get more exciting than that, but I can’t wait to get going. I want to get that first win under my belt


Before the opening round of the Final Stage of the 2023 PGA Tour Q-School, George and Wesley Bryan give high praise to SA’s superstar.

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A family decision to return to the land of his birth, partly due to the broader golfing opportunities on offer for Aldrich, saw the Potgieters take up residency in Mossel Bay. Within months, the youngster had played his way to the top of the GolfRSA Junior rankings and had earned a spot in the National Squad.

His journey to the Korn Ferry Tour essentially began with his selection to the Squad’s UK Tour team. In what was his first taste of British links golf, Potgieter defeated England’s Sam Bairstow 3 & 2 at Royal Lytham & St Annes in the final of The Amateur Championship to win arguably the biggest prize in amateur golf. With that win came entries into the 2022 Open Championship, the 2023 Masters and the 2023 US Open.

When he made the cut at the latter – a result that convinced him he was ready to turn professional at ae 18 – he earned himself a spot in the Second Stage of the Korn Ferry Qualifying School.

“It was an awesome week,” he recalls. “I was confident going into the event and when I found out that the winner automatically earned a Korn Ferry card, I was really motivated to win. Fortunately, the putts dropped and I ended up winning by four shots.”

The goal now is to play his way into the PGA Tour by finishing in the top 30 of the Korn Ferry moneylist.


See how Potgieter and the Titleist team worked together to determine if it makes sense to switch from the 3-wood in his bag to a new 2-iron.

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“This is where it all begins for me,” Potgieter says. “I’ve played at three Majors, so it doesn’t get more exciting than that, but I can’t wait to get going. I want to get that first win under my belt.

“The goal is to win, obviously, but I want to make every cut and build momentum so that I can take advantage of every opportunity.”

The Korn Ferry Tour launches in mid-January with two events in the Bahamas, before moving on to Panama, Colombia, Argentina and Chile. No doubt it will be a baptism of fire for Potgieter, and will test more than just his game.

“I’m aware that for my first full season I’ll pretty much be living out of a suitcase,” he says, adding that he is looking to find a place in Florida to set up a US home base. “It looks like I’ll play seven weeks in a row, have a week off and then play another seven.”

One could argue that 19 is just about the perfect age to embark on this sort of adventure. There’s no mortgage to pay or family to support, and young bodies tend to bounce back quicker from cramped aircraft seats or dodgy AirBnB mattresses.


Potgieter’s best shots from the 2022 Open Championship at St Andrews.

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I just need to remember that it’s always just another round of golf on another golf course


Highlights of Potgieter’s incredible comeback to win The Amateur Championship in 2022.

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The Amateur champion chats about a tournament to remember.

Yet unlike the case with rookies on the Sunshine Tour, there won’t be many familiar faces for Potgieter as he tees it up on the Korn Ferry Tour.

“I don’t really know any of the guys on the Tour,” he says. “But I think that also helps me a bit. I’m not going to be intimidated playing with a big name and I can just go about my business.”

Fortunately, he won’t have to navigate this part of the journey alone.

“Thankfully my management company [Impact Point] is paying for my dad to travel with me, so I’ll have good company and someone looking out for me.

“I’m really looking forward to exploring new countries and enjoying new experiences.”

Potgieter is aware that the Korn Ferry Tour is highly competitive, with players who are desperate to make it on to – or back to – the PGA Tour.

“At the few events I have played I have managed to get a feel for the quality of players on Tour, so I know I will need to play really well to achieve my goals,” he says.

“I’ll also need to get through the difficult times. I’m playing well at the moment but things can get tough, and when the pressure gets up you start to doubt yourself. I just need to remember that it’s always just another round of golf on another golf course.”

No doubt this year will be a huge learning curve for Potgieter but if he is able to get off to a good start in January, it will come as no surprise to see the rookie playing his way on to the PGA Tour.