Job in brief
There are many different career options for a qualified PGA (Professional Golfer's Association) professional but I chose the route to become a coach. I teach all abilities from beginners to professionals on the driving range, golf course and in our indoor studio.
I now use IT with videos and we are always learning new techniques for teaching - from lasers to weight machines. As you hit the ball into the net in the indoor studio the lasers measure your swing speed, the spin on the golf ball, the flight trajectory and swing path etc. We measure the weight distribution in your feet as you swing the club. We know that the weight shifts from the back foot to the front foot, but we didn't know whether the weight was in the toes or heels. If you get the weight positioning wrong it can make your upper body position wrong.
Until this year I played in golf tournaments about every other week, but this year, since helping to set up this golf school, I haven't had time. Once you turn pro you have to play off scratch (i.e. have a handicap of zero) because you lose your amateur status. I had top 10 finishes in regional events, and I won some tournaments as an amateur but I haven't won as a pro...yet!
I got all my GCSEs at school. You can't start the PGA course until you have at least a C grade in Maths and English or you have to sit their entrance exam. At college I came away with a NVQ level 3 in Business Administration.
I knew it was golf that I wanted to get into so all my work experience was at golf clubs in the area. I got to see how courses were run and got to play some good ones for free!!
Good communication skills are essential so that you can:
- Communicate with people of different ages and abilities
- Use simple terms to put points across
- Listen to clients
- Set goal for clients
- Be approachable
- Adapt teaching technique to suit individuals
- Teach groups as well as individuals
- Show enthusiasm and be a good motivator
- Be assertive
After finishing college I worked and turned Professional at a local golf club in Surrey. I became a trainee PGA professional which means I entered into a 3 year course to become fully qualified. I had to study the different areas of the PGA and had course work set, as well as training courses at the Belfry followed with exams. You need to pass the exams to move to the next year. You have to stay attached to a golf club in this time which can mean long hours for not much money. But I stuck with it and decided that I wanted to teach and once I qualified I became a full-time coach. I worked for about 6 years in Surrey and got good experience. I now live in Manchester and work as a coach in Altrincham for a Golf School.
Becoming a PGA professional has led to a great career - if you love golf then you can't get much better than this. You do need to have a low handicap of 4 or better to turn pro. There is the opportunity to play in tournaments too. The rewards are fantastic when you see people improve and you are never bored.
You've got to work hard, it doesn't come easily.
BBC Journalist and Television Presenter.
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