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As a designation that indicates the involvement of both professional and amateur participates, the pro-am is associated with several different sports events where teams with a professional-mixture engage in competition with other pro-am teams. Most often, the concept of the pro-am is found in the sport of golf.
Pro-ams usually take place within the context of tournaments. In some cases, the exact structure of pro-ams will involve a lead person who is a professional. The remaining members of the team are composed of avid amateurs. With this type of team composition, the professional on the team will often critique the performance level of each amateur member, and provide instruction that helps all the amateurs on the team achieve a higher level of competence. Often, the professional on the pro-am team will actively participate the tournament as well.
In other cases, the pro-am team may include an eclectic mixture of several professionals and amateurs. Instead of a single professional who acts as a team coach or instructor, several professionals will be paired with amateurs and function as a cohesive unit. The internal structure of the team may include a team leader or not, depending on the rules of the tournament and the preferences of the team members.
Generally, amateurs who take part in a pro-am team event are not just casual participants in the team sport that is spotlighted in the competition. Instead, amateur members of pro-am teams tend to be people who play the sport on a regular, if unpaid, basis. The amateurs normally have exhibited a high level of skill or proficiency with the sport, and are recognized as having abilities that make them an asset on the team.
The idea of a pro-am team is attractive for several reasons. Amateurs have the chance to play with professionals that may be leading lights in the sport. Along the way, there is the chance to learn new techniques and approaches that might help the amateur to enhance his or her level of skill. Professionals, particularly persons who are considered to be celebrities in the sport, have the chance to meet and mingle with fans in an environment that is relaxed and just different enough from a professional competition to make the event interesting.