Steve was born in Ventura, California. He attended UCLA and was a member of the golf team; one teammate was Corey Pavin, who joined Pate on the PGA Tour. Pate helped lead the team to the 1983 Pac-10 Championship, and earned All-American honors that year. He turned pro and joined the PGA Tour later that year.
Pate has won six PGA Tour events. His first victory was at the 1987 Southwest Golf Classic; and his most recent win was at the 1998 CVS Charity Classic. His best years in professional golf were 1988 when he won twice and finished 12th on the money list; and 1991, when he had five top-3 finishes including a win at the Honda Classic, earned $727,997 and finished 6th on the money list. His best finish in a major is a T-3 at both the 1988 U.S. Open and the 1991 Masters. Pate has had more than 70 top-10 finishes in PGA Tour events. He has featured in the top-50 of the Official World Golf Rankings.
Pate was named the PGA Tour’s Comeback Player of the Year in 1999. In the Masters that year Pate set a record for the most consecutive birdies by making seven straight on holes 7 thru 13 leading to a 65, the low round of the tournament. The record was tied in 2005 by Tiger Woods who made 7 consecutive birdies in the third round.
He was a member of the 1991 and 1999 Ryder Cup Team. As he entered his forties, he began to split his playing time between the PGA Tour and the Nationwide Tour. He has one victory on the Nationwide Tour, the 2010 Pacific Rubiales Bogotá Open, which he won at age 48.
Pate was inducted into the California Golf Hall of Fame in 2003.
Pate will make his Champions Tour debut on May 26, 2011, his 50th birthday, in the Senior PGA Championship.