PGA professionals have been pioneers in developing the game of golf worldwide ever since the first Association was formed in 1901. Recently, an increasing number have opted to work in Asia, a band that includes PGA of Great Britain & Ireland Professional at Singha Elite Golf Performance Centre, Andrew Knott.
Here he tells the PGA of Great Britain & Ireland’s International Development Manager – PGA Project China, Matthew Davies, about his experiences of working in Thailand and some of the key differences he sees between the role of a PGA professional in the UK, Europe and Asia.
MD: What key differences do you see between the golf markets in the UK and Asia?
AK: One of them is the business relationship between the golf club and the professional and my circumstances are a case in point. I am not employed by the golf club and I have to pay a monthly rental fee to use the facilities and advertise.
MD: What was your reason for moving to Asia?
AK: My move to Asia was fuelled by other passions in life: travel and an interest in different cultures and religions. I actually came to Thailand and Asia working as a tour leader for a travel company and got paid to travel all around South East Asia!
MD: What would you say are the main obstacles you face working in Asia?
AK: The two biggest obstacles we face as PGA professionals in Asia could be seen to be intertwined. Firstly, the main issue is a lack of understanding throughout all levels of the golfing community, certainly here in Thailand anyway, in what it means to be a PGA member and the training involved.
Secondly, at higher levels of golf establishments our value is not seen. Therefore there are times when you may feel under-utilised. In my opinion the main thing the PGA can do, and Is doing, is work towards raising awareness of what it means to have the words PGA Professional Member after your name.
Having said that, members have to be prepared to help themselves and drive it too. Getting this message across to my clients, and potential clients, is something I have tried to emphasise heavily on my website.
MD: What three pieces of advice would you give to PGA professionals who are thinking about working In Asia?
AK: 1 – Don’t believe everything you read or hear from people who have only scratched the surface – nothing is ever quite what it seems at face value in Asia, so you must dig deeper and experience it first-hand for yourself.
2 – Don’t think or have the attitude that you are going to arrive and make a big splash or have an instant success. Be humble and patient and you will endear yourself to the locals. They don’t work with the same attitudes as you.
3 – Be prepared to work hard for everything you will get, nothing will be handed on a plate to you.
Do these THREE things and you can expect some great golfing facilities, some wonderful culture, and a fantastic experience to cherish.