Pay For Play: The Guys Making a Living Off 'Golden Tee' - Rolling Stone
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The Professionals: Meet the Guys Making a Living Off ‘Golden Tee’

The world’s best ‘Golden Tee’ players battle it out at the Minnesota Classic

Golden Tee

Chris Thorbrogger competes in the finals of the Golden Tee Golf tournament at Panino Brothers in Eden Prairie, Minn., on Sunday, August 17, 2014. Golden Tee Golf is a golf arcade game that uses a trackball to simulate a golf swing. Photo by Ackerman + Gruber

Ackerman + Gruber

Chances are, you've played a few rounds of Golden Tee at some point in your life. And while you probably teed off for fun (or the next pitcher), there are a growing number of players who are all business when it comes to the game; after all, it's how they make a living.

And the living is good. Over the past decade, players in online Tee tournaments and contests have won more than $50 million in prize money. Sounds like a dream job, but it turns out, it's actually a lot of work…serious players (known in Golden Tee circles as "Bangers" due to the confident way they slam the game's trackball during a shot) grind it out, entering as many as 50 tournaments a day – and chances are, they'd play in more if Incredible Technologies, the company that developed the game, didn't put a cap on the number.

Inevitably, the game's popularity has also given rise to a pro tour, where the best of the best compete for bragging rights, cash prizes and a spot in the Masters of video-game golf: the Player of the Year Tournament in Houston. The Bangers were out in full force at the Minnesota Classic, one of the tour's qualifying events, and Rolling Stone was there to capture the action. And eat some nachos.

In This Article: Golf, sports


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