Where does a golfer leave the "Weekend Warrior" tag behind?
I am fairly new to the sport and would love some input. Every sport has different levels of athletes: people who aren't very good and don't care; people who want to actively improve, people who do their sport on weekends and for social reasons, and people who want to become or are elite.
For golfing, what ability level or experience level is generally seen as moving beyond a "weekend warrior" label and toward "elite"? Obviously there are different levels of elite. Is it the player with a certain handicap? The player who plays maybe 40 rounds a year but also is actively practicing 3-5 hours a week? Tournament results?
The reason I ask: I used to race a bike at an elite level and it was pretty definitive. Cat 2 was the beginning of "elite"; you had to show good talent to hit that level and even if you were the most gifted person on the planet aerobically, less than 12 hours a week on the bike wasn't going to get you the results you wanted. It was also the point where you started getting free gear and good team sponsorship funding. Cat 2 would be like a low collegiate-level golfer I suppose and 75-80% of the ability of the top pros in the world. I raced elite Cat 1 (pro racing but no need for a pro license and less tied down) which would be like high D1 collegiate golf or low-level full time golf tour (85-90% of European-based pros, as judged by power meter). Pros racing on top teams in Europe are PGA tour-level
Golf is different as a lot of people play just for fun and don't care if they shoot 75, 85, 95, 105, but in bike racing, nobody is going to show up, even for a Cat 5 race, if they aren't the equivalent of someone who can shoot 88 consistently. It is no fun being off the back on your own all day; those types will enter gran fondos and other less competitive events. Probably 12% of all people who race on the road are of the "elite" category but it is a upwardly-adjusted sample size.
So, from a golf perspective, what is your cutoff for "elite" or "sub-elite"? High school medalist? Good enough to play in college? Handicap level? Or does anyone even care (I suppose they do, otherwise a handicap wouldn't exist and neither would the gear industry!).