The PGA Tour's Oldest Rookies

Allen Doyle tees off during the second round of the U.S. Senior Open at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas on July 7, 2006. (Photo by G. N. Lowrance/Getty Images)
G. N. Lowrance/Getty Images

Most golfers currently entering their first, or rookie, year of their PGA Tour career are between the ages of 18 and 30, but a few golfers who got a late start have also gone on to great success on the professional golf circuit.

Still, it's unusual for golfers to be over the age of 35 when competing in their rookie year of professional golf, and the person who earned his first PGA Tour card the latest of any golfer in history was Allen Doyle who was 47 years, five months, and six days old when he completed his rookie season in 1996.

Jim Rutledge was just a month off from this record when he competed in the 2007 season at the age of 47 years, 4 months, and 6 days — literally one month to the day from tying with Doyle's record.

A Late Start, but Successful Career

Although Doyle had been top of the amateur circuit for years, he didn't venture into the professional league until much later in his life. In his early days, Doyle played mostly in the south and won tournaments in his home state of Georgia, and notably won four significant championships in the amateur league in 1994 before moving to the professional circuit two years later.

In 1995, Doyle turned pro and took home three victories from the Nike Tour, including the Championship title, which boosted his reputation enough for him to be considered for the PGA Tour the following year, at the age of 47, though he didn't win any of the events that season.

Still, Doyle's career exploded when he joined the Champions Tour, designed for professional golfers over the age of 50, three years later, and Boyle went on to win 7 senior tournaments, two U.S. Senior Opens, and an additional two other major senior championships throughout his later career.

Notable Players Over 35 in Recent Years

Although many rookies enter the professional golf field between the ages of 18 and 30, there are a few older players who make their way to the PGA Tour — though rarely to great success — still, every once in a while someone like Doyle or Jim Rutledge come along and score well enough in the amateur league to be considered for the professional leagues.

In 2015, 37-year-old Rob Oppenheim finally earned his chance to play in the 2016 season after narrowly scoring a good enough score in the Tour Championship game, which concluded a decade-long quest to be invited on the PGA Tour; once there, though, Oppenheim has since to win an event.

Currently, the oldest professional golfer still taking part in the PGA Tour — well, at least in the seniors' Champions Tour — is Hale Irwin, who at 70-years-old still competes annually in the tournament for golfers over the age of 50, though Irwin was a rookie over forty years ago, entering the game in his early 20s.